I was brought up in a very religious home. We went to church three times a week and prayed multiple times a day. As I entered my adult years, I trained with a Lakota Medicine Woman who was beyond the most influential person in my life. I’ve studied yoga, meditation and various spiritual disciplines since my late teens and I’ve found one of my greatest life’s passions in assisting others through their process of self-awareness by utilizing yogic tools and other consciousness expanding philosophies and spiritual teachings. The interesting common thread that anchors these keystones within my life is the concept of ceremony, ritual.
Even when I officially renounced the religion I grew up in, there were certain aspects that I missed. I missed the sacredness around the Sabbath. The idea that there should be a day of rest, of contemplation, devoted to turning ones actions more directly to god. I missed being in the congregation when someone was on the pulpit sharing their raw truth, their moments of anguish and triumph, a person publicly surrendering to their most vulnerable selves. I missed feeling like I was special, like I held onto a knowledge that unlocked eternity.
When I studied with Kunchi, the medicine woman, everything was ritual. Before we entered her land we had to sage, in the traditional way. We had to come right. When we gathered as a group each person knew their place and had their role. When we performed traditional ceremonies, every single piece of the ceremony was painstakingly prepared. For example, tobacco ties are a common ceremonial tool in the Lakota tradition. The 104 ties consist of small squares of fabric holding a pinch of tobacco all strung together on one continuous string. The squares are a specific size and color(s), depending on the ceremony. The string was cotton and each pinch of tobacco was a prayer. Our steps in ceremony were counted, our clothing symbolic, our cardinal position in the medicine wheel, Tipi, or the Sundance circle was significant to the medicine lesson we were learning. Everything was intentional. Kunci taught me that this sacred life is ceremony. Just like the formal ceremonies, in life, we gain wisdom, and personal power based on what we bring to the circle. If we do the work we receive the healings, the guidance.
My yoga practice is also an intensional ceremony. A moment in time of conscious connection to the divine through the unification of body, breath, focus and heart based spirit awareness. But my time on my meditation cushion, on my yoga mat is a reflection of what I try to bring into my daily life. These gifts of ceremony, discipline, devotion, bring a richness to my experience with creation. We live in such a magical multi-dimensional existence, why not get the most you possibly can out of it by living ceremonially. Move with intention, speak with intention, eat, work, play, dance, love, create, connect with the intention of being fully present. Through the ritual of conscious living, we are connecting our physical being to spirit, our singular life, connecting to the collective - heart to source. I encourage you to contemplate the roll ritual, ceremony and intentional living play in your life.