Creating New Rituals: Honor Your Whole Self

I had an Energy Release Ritual this morning. Spur of the moment, totally unplanned, but absolutely inspired. I've been reading a few mind-body healing books ever since attending Dr. Mitchell Gaynor's workshop at CIIS this weekend. Dr. Gaynor is an integrative oncologist based at Cornell Medical Center in New York City and is the embodiment of physician-healer, embracing all of his life experiences and learning from diverse traditions in order to create healing partnerships with his patients. I don't see myself working with disease, but still find myself fascinated by healing stories. Disease is merely one form of communication, through the vehicle of our bodies, to help us become more aware of ourselves. Some people experience healing through a financial crisis, or a job loss, or the death of a loved one. Any time our expectations about life are challenged or even shattered, we are being handed the gift of an opportunity to heal and grow. Somehow this morning I was inspired to let go of some of the energies that I am still carrying and am no longer in need of. I knew that I wanted to have a total body experience of this letting go - not just writing it, or saying it, but experiencing it with all of my senses. I created an altar, which incorporated items representing the five elements - earth, fire, air, water, and ether. I also included a symbol of inner peace, which to me is beautifully exemplified in the image of the Buddha. I turned on music. Two types of background music seemed appropriate for what I was about to do. The first: fiery, warrior music. I imagined drums beating and war cries. I scoured my CD collection and came up with the Brave Heart soundtrack. Perfect! The second, for the calmer, more healing part of the ritual: healing harp sounds by Diana Stork, a Bay Area healing musician. I then created small pieces of paper with words to express the different qualities and energies I would honor during the ritual. One group was everything I wanted to embrace about who I am, in this moment: The next group was everything I wanted to release. All the old energies I have learned from, I am grateful for, and I am ready to let go of: I held a vision of honoring each of these old energies, thanking it for bringing its lessons into my life, and then letting it go, into a flame. I started just listening to the music, and invoking the power of the four directions: North, South, East, and West. As I turned my body toward each direction in space, I spoke aloud an invocation, honoring the significance of each of the directions in connecting to nature and the earth. As the drums beat on the track from Brave Heart, I felt my own strength and calm building within. I then used my Tibetan Singing Bowl to connect with the Divine Energy within me, my completeness as I am in this moment. As I chanted "Om" and listened and connected with this energy, it was effortless to make a beautiful continuous sound with the bowl, my voice, and my breath. I felt whole. Next I spoke out loud each of the qualities I choose to embrace in my life in this moment, as I become who I am becoming, as I heal and create my future from this moment. I breathed into the qualities that I know I already possess, that are always there to be expressed when I access them through the openness of a calm mind and relaxed body. Finally I began to look at each item in the old energies pile. One by one, I spoke aloud, "I honor you, I thank you for your lessons, and I let you go," before putting each slip of paper into the flame. I could feel the power of watching the words on paper transform, through fire, into air and ether. I could smell the smoke as I breathed in. The warrior music still played, giving me strength and a constant rhythm with which to keep releasing. After each paper went into the glass jar, I sounded a chime, symbolizing the merging of that quality with the ether, and my own release. I sat and watched the papers burn, breathing in the smoky air until I had to open a window. And I emerged with a sense of commitment and clarity. I felt that I had honored myself at many levels, and that I had a sensory experience of letting go of the energies that I no longer to need to carry. They were never mine to begin with. I had just chosen to carry them as if they belonged to me. I've begun to appreciate the value of rituals, not only in groups, as they were typically performed in indigenous traditional cultures, but for individuals. As I build strength and trust in myself, and choose to honor all of who I am in my life, rituals help me ground into my own commitments, even as I venture into the world. What rituals will you create to honor yourself this holiday season, or in the coming new year? You can listen to a recording of the entire ritual here>>

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