Today I'd like to take a little departure from the usual, here. I've been thinking a lot about how rituals and spirituality play a role in my creative process. I don't know if others feel this way, or not. I would like to share some thoughts on this topic. I hope you get something out of it!
Part of our nature is to embrace rituals. We look forward to rituals great and small. Holidays, Graduations, and seasonal chores are all externally taught rituals. Other rituals are ones we create for ourselves. They bring us comfort, give us something to look forward to, and help us define our social circles. From decorating the Christmas tree to brewing a cup of tea, rituals are comforting and familiar. I am a big fan of rituals. I embrace them and use them to bring comfort and structure to my life. I bet you do the same. In this post, I am asking you to think about your rituals.
Most of what we think of as rituals are taught to us, handed down from our ancestors. Having had another person created the ritual, then pass it on, gives it value and legitimacy. Consider for a moment the fact of this. Someone developed the sequence of events and passed it on. Some have meaning, some don’t. In many instances, it is more the repeating of a familiar pattern that brings comfort than a firm belief, or commitment to, the act. This doesn’t make the actions good or bad. I’m just saying that we should really think about how we spend our time, what we devote our energies to.
So far, I’ve only talked about the positive rituals that we embrace. Think for a moment about any rituals you have devised, or capitulated to, that are negative and harmful for you. Do you beat yourself up emotionally? Condemn your motivations? Or, maybe you’ve fallen into a pattern like drinking to excess or smoking? Simply using negative language on yourself by way of self-talk can be a very destructive habit. Oddly, these bring comfort similar to positive rituals, but they tear down and destroy. “Living life on purpose” includes rejecting what doesn’t serve us as well as developing what is uplifting. Beginning to recognize those negative habits, and starting to eliminate them, will help you feel better about yourself in so many ways.
Rituals can help us set our intention for just about any activity we choose to engage in. Getting ready to go on a trip, going to work, headed out to school… each activity has a list of behaviors we engage in before we begin. These help us transition from one activity to another.When I create art, I have a little set of rituals I usually go through. I get a beverage, put on some music, sometimes I light incense… That’s just me. I’m sure you have a ritual of your own. It helps to define the space and time as “creative.” Taking the time to define our intention, through thought and action, helps us to focus our energies on a specific intended purpose.
I don’t believe that we are stuck with just our own taught rituals, or making up our own. I love to learn about other cultural rituals and adopt those that feel right for me. For instance, I have adopted the custom of smudging to bring a positive vibe to my space. What can I say? It makes me feel clean and light filled. It’s a form of prayer to me. Another ritual handed down by my ancestors, and probably yours. J
To wrap this up, I just want to say that I, like most every person, embrace rituals for their ability to bring comfort, celebration, and help me to define my intent. My message here is simple.. Become aware of your rituals, embrace those that empower, let go of any that don’t. Feel free to invent rituals for yourself, too. They can be fun! As long as you’re choosing your behavior for the value that it brings into your life, you’re on the right track.