The Importance of Ritual

noun rit·u·al

  1. 1 :  the established form for a ceremony; specifically :  the order of words prescribed for a religious ceremony

  2. 2 a :  ritual observance; specifically :  a system of rites 
    b :  a ceremonial act or action 
    c :  an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner

    (from Merriam-Webster)

Ritual. We see them all around us, some conspicuous, some slightly obscured. We see them in our religions, in our businesses, in our clubs and sports. Some of us may even have rituals that we do. 

A good example of a ritual is in sports. A lot of athletes go through some sort of pre-game ritual. Maybe they listen to their favorite inspiring music, or meditate, or have talisman/lucky charms with them. They may get dressed in exactly the same way each time, for example, always put the left sock on first, keeping things in the same order.

We may look at these rituals as outsiders and think they are silly or meaningless. We might also snarkly refer to them as voodoo or superstition, but this shows a complete lack of understanding. 

A ritual is a symbolic set of thought/motions/procedures designed to create a certain mindset. 

The art of the Mandala

In the case of an athlete, it's designed to put them in the frame of mind of peak performance. Think back to any group you may have joined, like a fraternity/sorority, or a business group, or even the military. There may have been some sort of initiation ceremony that you went through. This ceremony was more than just a show for people to see. The idea of ceremonies like this is to create a certain atmosphere that creates a certain mind set. And in this capacity, it's very important. Buy going through the ritual/ceremony, you enter into the group mind, you become a part of something greater.

Think about your own practice. Do you go through some sort of ritual before each session, or do you just show up and get started, jumping right in? 

Take the time to think about if ritual is a part of your practice.


If you don't currently have a ritual, you might want to think about developing one. Look at what you do that helps set the mood, getting you into a positive frame of mind. It might be as simple as listening to some inspiring music, or reading your favorite poem. You might use scents, like burning incense or sage, or using essential oils. 

For me, I like to set everything up and then check it all to make sure everything is tight, with no squeaks or rattles from a loose wing nut. Then I like to either read or listen to some music, also doing some Mudras (hand gestures), using sacred oils, and evoking various spirits, among other things. I often bring various talismans, that I have collected over the years, that mean something to me. These are things that I've collected in my travels presenting sessions and concerts all over. This is all done in order to get me focused on playing my Gongs/Bowls/Bells. I really like to have a clear head that is open to the vibrations. And this can be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes—all depending on how much time I have after setting up.

What rituals do you go through?

~ MB

Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™


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