Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Importance of Ritual
A ritual is any action we take that has meaning beyond its appearance. The word “sacred” comes from the Latin word sacrum, which relates to power or strength. So, a sacred ritual is an exchange or action that you imbue with meaning, thus giving it power. In this unpredictable and always-on-the-go world we live in, rituals provide us with a sense of security, stability, connectedness and belonging.
Ritual is something you can count on. Ritual practice is as old as humanity, developing from people’s compelling need to understand and connect with the infinite, archetypal, unexplainable mysteries of life,
It’s important not to confuse habit with ritual. The former is simply mindless behavior while ritual is intentional focused action. It’s a ceremony of sorts which begins with thought, purpose and an identified aim. Also, it’s not passive, but participatory.
In India, every morning women step outside their home at 5 am to clean the entrance way and draw a Yantra on their doorsteps which settles the ground for welcoming visiting gods, preparing an atmosphere of reverence for guests to come. Every single day the same ritual, at the same hour, who knows with what intention? But you feel in their action the devotion to it.
When we carve out a niche in our busy lives to establish a ritual practice, we produce beauty, order, harmony, reverence, patience, and appreciation, which enriches everything that we do. 
In Yoga tapas, or austerity, the third Niyama in the eight limbs of Yoga, means to create heat, to create a discipline through which heat is created. Heat, fire in Ayurveda is a tool of purification. We use tapas to create a ritual for ourselves that helps us come closer to our true essence, Atman, our inner light.
Committing to a daily Yoga practice can be a form of tapas, we bring our hearts and presence to the space, and we dedicate a window of our time to it.
All spiritual traditions involve some form of inner and/or outer ritual. Why? Because a ritual returns you to what matters. The very act of beginning a ritual puts us in a state of mind where we can break with the routine patterns of the mundane and remember the sacred.
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