Archives For ritual

 “Prayer is joyous breathing, by which the heavenly atmosphere is inhaled and then exhaled in prayer.” Andrew Murray

Recently I participated in a sweat lodge and was invited to pray out loud with witnesses. I found myself feeling very exposed by allowing others to hear my conversation with the Divine.  For as long as I can remember I have had a private inner-conversation with God. In my mother’s home this was cultivated and encouraged. We had permission to pray in a natural way.  Mom shared by example the sense of relief, healing and support we can experience through prayer.

Although I have this easy natural prayer life, I have been hesitant to show this side of myself to others.  Prayer has been so intimate for me that praying out loud was like being naked in front of strangers.

Part of the fear of revealing my prayer life has been fear of judgment.  Fear that outside of religious organizations, prayer is shunned or seen as weird, uncool.  Prayer is vulnerable. Through it we are revealing our needs and desires in the most intimate way.  Yet prayer is our strength.  It helps us grow a sense of greater certainty with our inner-guidance.

When I am struggling with anything in my life and finally pause to converse with the Divine about my struggles I find immediate relief.  There is a shift in the tension I’ve been carrying, a sense of support from the universe, even if nothing has changed in the outside circumstances.  Often the outside circumstances do change once I have surrendered the outcome.  And at a minimum I feel my perception of the circumstances changes.  I feel less stuck.

When I’m stuck in a space of stress it is hard to see clearly for myself.  It’s hard to see all my options or a way out.  I unconsciously have given my power away to some situation or circumstance that feels bigger than me. It is in the simple act of prayer, sharing my heart with the Divine, that the breakthrough comes. Light shines into the darkness and helps me see clearly again.

Yet even with a lifetime practice of inner prayer I still forget to pray.  It generally is when life is most challenging that I go long periods without remembering to ask for Divine support, without surrendering my will to the will of the Divine.

So I encourage you to pray. Regardless of your belief system, this conversation with a Higher Power is transformational. It frees us from our burdens.  It clears space in our heart and mind so we can see the answers and hear our inner-voice.

Breathe in the breath of the universe. Breathe out your prayers of gratitude and requests for support from the Divine.

Intention and energy infuse sacred spaces.  It may be a place where something miraculous occurred or a corner of our everyday life that we set apart with a potency that allows us to quickly return to alignment with our Self.  Places of worship, temples, shrines, ashrams, grottoes and mountain tops become infused with the prayers of all who congregate there.  Prayerful intentions have a common theme across belief systems: giving thanks, surrendering burdens to the Divine, asking for good to come in our lives and offering to be of service to a higher power.

Sacred spaces fed with these vibrations have a way of quickly shifting us to center when we enter their aura.  I was recently on my annual visit to Shambhala Mountain Center and hiked to the Great Stupa a spiritual monument supporting the path to enlightenment.  As I entered, a muffled silence with the power of sacred commitment pulsated so strong that my ears rang.  They were being cleansed of all wasted frantic thought, followed by pure silence and stillness.  Breathing, sitting and being present, my body arrived in the moment instantly.

I hadn’t noticed that I had been ahead of myself, body, mind, spirit moving at different paces as I climbed the hill to the Stupa.  Inside my body went through a series of awareness’s, ringing silence, bits of tension in one shoulder, forehead and souls of my feet released with pings, like medal warming in the sun after a cool night.  My mind accepted the futility of trying to control anything by pre-thinking it and came back to the moment I was living.  My spirit smiled at my body and mind and said, “thank you.”

Being in the flow of life is good.  We meander or sprint through the choices we make each day, deciding what to cook for dinner, maintaining focus while we work and walking the dog.  In the midst of our routines, life’s demands and the non-stop flow of needs from those around us, pausing in a sacred space allows all of the activity to become more centered.  Sacred spaces have a magical ability to presence us to our needs in the midst of busyness and help us quickly release what isn’t important.

Creating a personal sacred space such as a home altar is one way to bring this experience into our everyday life.  An altar can be dedicated to whatever we intend, an inspirational altar, a self-care altar, a gratitude altar, a love altar or an altar that changes with the seasons.  Materially it is a collection of items that remind us of our soul’s creative desires, fresh flowers and beautiful object that evoke the vibration of love, symbols for space holding and clearing such as candles, sage and bells.

Personal sacred space allows us to take a few moments each time we pass it by to remember that our spirit is on this journey with our body and mind.  Rituals re-align us to our Self due to their intention and the repetitive nature. By returning to the same place with intentions we infuse it with those beliefs such as gratitude, surrender, trust and a willingness to listen to the Divine through our inner-voice. We create our own unique healing space to center in our authentic Self.

As we begin a New Year I like to apply the “Be the Word” practice I learned in training at Inner Connection Institute. This involves choosing a word that’s vibration inspires me to live with it for the entire year. One I can learn from. My word for 2012 is devotion.  I don’t use this word often, so I received it with curiosity, interested in discovering what it meant for me. The definition that resonates with me is the act or state of being devoted, committed and loyal to an intent or cause. I believe devotion is essential to living a passionate life.

What are you devoted to in 2012?  Are you devoted to something internal, external, one or many intentions?

Devotion is true passion. The fire of our creative energy applied that manifests into demonstrable life experiences. Internal devotions consist of cultivating some aspect of your human body-soul experience such as physical health, a state of inner peace, increased patience, self-love or creativity.  External devotions involve community, planetary or relationship focused commitments to a cause.  You might be devoted to growing a tasty plump non-genetically modified tomato in your garden or contributing to the quality of education available in your community by sharing your skills and getting involved in the political process.

The word devotion has a spiritual definition as well, linked to worship, an expression of gratitude to a greater power.  Your devotional intentions gain power and solidify to bear fruit when held in the context of gratitude; gratitude that we have the opportunity, time, energy and freedom for passion found in purposeful intent.

Devotion can only come from a true heartfelt desire with a clear focus.  Our life gains a greater sense of purposefulness when we are devoted to cultivate internal and external intentions.  Like the old adage, it’s the journey not the destination. Having focus, passion, devotion on our journey, draws out the flavor of life as we take a bite, the juiciness drips down our chin. And we don’t mind the mess because it tastes so good.  This level of purposeful commitment pays dividends in joy.

It’s the perfect time of year to clean cobwebs and dust bunnies out of the corners of our life.  The budding of spring evokes a desire to let go of what no longer matches our vision to make room for something fresh and new.  Both in our physical world and our spirit, clearing energetic space lightens us up and brings us into the present moment. 

To prepare ourselves for new opportunities that show-up along our path in love, at work or home, there are some spiritual spring cleaning tools we can use that don’t cost much more than time and intention. 

In ancient spiritual traditions energy is cleared and healed with ritual smudging. Smudging is the act of burning sage, sweet grass or other plants, such as those collected near a place where a lightning strike burnt the earth. The sacred smoke purifies an area or object.  Combined with spiritual invocation the smoke absorbs and neutralizes any negative energy. It cleanses the space to make way for new creation. 

In The Smudging and Blessings Book Jane Alexander writes, “Cleansing a space or our bodies with techniques such as smudging clears away all the emotional and psychic ‘garbage’ that may have gathered over years or even hundreds of years.” Begin with a lit smudge bundle or braid of sweet grass and something to catch ashes, walk through each room of your home or office and take the smoke to each of the corners of the room.  If the weather is nice, open doors and windows to allow fresh air to flow through, moving energy with the planet’s breathe. 

After you have smudged the space take a moment to sit meditation.  Clear your mind of distractions with deep breathing.  Notice the grounding cord connected from the base of your spine down into the center of the earth.  When you feel clear and centered visualize a large rose in the center of the home or office space. It’s stem running down through the floor, through the layers of the earth and rooting into the core of the planet. Then see a gold thread coming from each of the top four corners of the building or property into the center of the blossom of the rose.  See four more gold threads connecting from the bottom corners of the space to the blossom of the rose.  Mentally intend that the space is set at your vibration, in present time, today’s date.  If you share space with others you can include their energy. 

Clearing and owning the space we live and work in can be done as often as we like.  It keeps the vibration current and in alignment with our energy.  It makes the space more cooperative with our movements and rest.  It removes the distraction of energetic holdovers from past inhabitants or events.  Ultimately, cleaning our energetic space increases our intuitive clarity.