Brian Sullivan



Life is full of rituals. We create them constantly, although we often like to rename them routines. True some routines are nothing but habits. Nothing other than conditioned responses developed over time. Other associate ritual to religion and minimize them as if they are meaningless. Certainly, having been raised in what many would call a form of Protestantism, I dismissed religious ritual until I realized that in my upbringing there were also traditions and routines that had taken on their own life.
It was then that I realized that rituals can be empowering. If they empower will of course depend on whether we consciously chose rituals that serve us. There are of course many cultural rituals that we inherit however I suggest that these too can empower us. Perhaps it depends on whether we reach a point in life where we examine the purpose of the ritual itself.
If I substitute ritual for the word routine, then I can see that routines can help in time management. Do I switch on the coffee machine, quickly check my email or polish my shoes. The actions in themselves can become automatic.
Yet what about rituals that empower. What of bringing a spiritual dimension to the day? A Muslim, considers salat, or ritual prayer as the second pillar of Islam binding him to the Islamic community. A practicing Jew, commences his day with the Modeh Ani, his first words in gratitude, while still in bed, for the return of his soul in the morning.
In a western, materialistic society, these attitudes are often dismissed as archaic. I would have to admit, that previously, I saw them in a negative light. However, a positive and grateful spirit benefits not only ourselves physiologically and psychologically; it can also benefit those around us.
Now I understand that for the Jew, for example, every prayer, uttered when washing the hands, blessing a food, or praising the Divine, is full of a symbolism that transcends habit but is imbued with meaning.
It is the understanding of the meaning that when repeated throughout life becomes part of the psyche. The question is whether our use of ritual; builds up or negates our life.
Business trainer Brian Tracy, explained that ever action, or failure to act, adds or negates our success. It is the constant daily routines that empower or dis-empower us. Do we habitually act, or habitually, procrastinate? Do we take a few seconds to smile at our kids, or do we tell them we will speak to them when we are not busy.
A ritual of prayer, meditation, or yoga, can help train the mind, a ritual of a few minutes exercise can add strength and endurance to our body. Perhaps th ritual of listening to upbuilding music at the commencement of our day will motivate us. Or do we just hope that the radio has a few good tunes as we allow other to impose their mood on our day?
Perhaps chanting, or repeating affirmations or intentions may help. I already mentioned prayer which can help us look beyond ourselves and direct our introductory thoughts toward serving a purpose beyond ourselves. Perhaps that sounds a little too ‘out there’ for you. In life we are measured often by what we do, not airy fairy nice intentions. As the Chassidic writers said:“Our potential is measured not by good intentions, but by what our feet and hands do.”
However, in all our conscious actions, thoughts no matter how brief preceded them. Therefore, there is merit in developing the habit of developing thought processes that motivate us to act positively. One could do so meditatively, reducing distractions within our thoughts so that we can slip the positively framed affirmations into our lives, or enhance the affirmations emotionally, stirring up our physiology and anchoring our desires to a repeatable action. Personally, I believe both tools should be used. The ritual begins to draw upon the energy and inspiration within us, be it our collective community identity, a collective consciousness, or the enthusiasm within our soul.
Rituals can also help release negative patterns. A useful ritual is to write or verbalise the negative pattern and then symbolically destroy it. This ritual often involves writing or verbally addressing what it is you need to get rid of in your life, A useful ritual is to write, with all the negative emotion, the issue you want resolved and then to burn the paper it is written on. Sometimes motivation specialists will use board breaking or fear conquering activities as a means to overcome a negative belief. For example, a person who breaks aboard may have written on it a belief that they wish to destroy thus symbolically linking their emotion to the successful victory over the board. In both examples, the action links a negative belief to an object that is overcome.
Of course, many negative responses are so conditioned within us that our responses are automatic. Actions and responses that are, triggered by reflex are a little harder to deal with, often because they are not fully understood., however meditators have shown that increases meditative awareness can aid in gaining greater understanding and control of our impulses. Also, breaking wood is not something you can readily do daily, or when a negative thought enters your mind, but simple anchors can be quickly rand discretely repeated as the need arises. It is the neurological linking of a conquest over a negative belief gives us a device to trigger success again and again.
One last point – and yes I know I am repeating this. Find a reason for gratitude. There has been a lot written about gratitude since the release of the movie The Secret Its nothing new of course. Anthony Robbins has been speaking of the attitude of Gratitude for 20 years and it can be traced back centuries. However, many find the repetition of reasons for gratitude soulless. Of course, if emotively psyching yourself up with joyful thoughts works for you go for it! Yet many of us don’t jump out of our skin with over the top exuberance. Perhaps you’re the quiet sensitive type. This is where reflective rituals are magnificent. Earlier I spoke of the culture of prayer in Islamic and Judaic culture. Of course, there are so many other wonderful examples. Prayer has the power to bring forth our emotional being. It can also have a negative effect if not used well. How is that? How can reaching out to the divine be negative? Reaching our inner divinity is in no way harmful. However, repeated emotional states, when repeated in the same way, become anchored physiologically. So? You already said that Brian. Consider if every time you pray all you do is pour out your woes. ‘”I don’t have enough money …. Aunt Mary picks on me … I am so unworthy a sinner …” Now all these topics are important facets of prayer. However, ask yourself, ig the only time you spoke to a friend was when you winged or complained do you think they will want you around after a while? If you only speak to the kids when you discipline them then chances are they will stop listening/ Well, if your prays are interpreted bu your body as another time for stress, drama and anxiety perhaps your inner voice may start to shut off and not hea r the positive parts of your prayer.
So spend time praying in gratitude. Give thanks. Praise God, for all the altruism received from the divine grace.
I’m not religious? Meditation as a means to still the mind works just as well. I am not here promoting religion per se, rather the deep emotional experience that religion can offer. There are many other ways to touch the inner voice within. Perhaps set up a peaceful corner in the home, be it a place of solitude, or if you are inclined a sacred corner. Walk amongst nature daily. If you live near a beach, as I do, then spend the evening dangling your toes in the water edge.
So, I encourage you to find your ritual. Develop patterns that reinforce your life, enhance your view of the world and expand your spiritual awareness.



Mind Power Masters

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