The Art of Ritual
We all have ritual in our lives. Ritual might be the side we sleep on, which chair we sit in at supper, or the route we drive to work. Everything in life, if you do it enough, creates a sequence of movement and thoughts and becomes a ritual.
Now let’s talk about ritual in finding your path to enlightenment. I have rituals. When I sit to meditate I sit in the same room, in the same chair, using the same opening thoughts that I have used for the last twenty years. There is nothing wrong with ritual. In the beginning I looked for ritual because I thought it was going to bring me a better practice or a better meditation. I mixed and matched different meditation practices and philosophy, trying to make the right ritual for me.
As I kept adding on to my ritual for beginnings and endings of my meditation, I had less time to meditate. My ritual started to over power my meditation. It became long and a waste of time. Meditation is about finding the silence in between thoughts. What does ritual do? One answer that comes to mind is it is for giving thanks to the power outside of yourself that you believe has power over you. When I realized some of the external routine was just taking time away from my practice and looking within, I adjusted my ritual. Now ritual for me is about having my mind know that in the next few minutes I am going to be meditating and it will be acting accordingly.
My ritual is about going into my meditation room and sitting in my chair that happens to be real comfortable for me to sit in as I meditate. My mind is now conditioned to my ritual so that when I walk into my meditation room and sit in my chair, it knows that it is time to meditate. I have other short rituals that help me when I am away from my room and my chair too, like when I place my feet flat on the ground and watch my breath. These actions send a message to my mind telling me it is time to meditate. When I am walking and talking in life, like at work or home, my ritual is finding a second to feel my breath and notice the silence and understand the silence’s name is Enlightenment.