One practice that has completely transformed the way I connect and communicate with others, with myself, and with reality is ceremony.
First I will say, I find that although daily practice can be very rewarding, I have often set myself up for failure in declaring that I will do something every day. I’ll use meditation as an example. There are few things I do every single day, and I have tried to incorporate meditation into daily life with the same discipline and effortlessness that I use for those other things (i.e. brushing my teeth). I’ve completed several challenges to meditate daily for 10, 30, 75 consecutive days, and I’ve even accepted that it doesn’t have to be so rigid and to let it happen naturally. However, when I decide to take on something like this, especially when its extremely beneficial to my health and wellbeing, I can’t help but grow to resent it.
Here comes the change…I found a way to meet ritual halfway, something that works for me. Two years ago I was trained to a shamanic practitioner. Part of the initiation process in my training is developing a sacred alter, a Mesa, that represents and facilitates healing. Twice a month in congruence with the moon cycle, I open my Mesa and create a ceremony full of gratitude and manifestation. In this time I naturally incorporate all of the practices I strive to do every day, deep meditation, yoga, and even speaking Spanish. Yes, I could do all of these things more, but showing up twice a month on full and new moons makes them even more sacred. I notice that since I’ve started these ceremonies I naturally do the other practices more often. So, I encourage you to find a semi-frequent ritual you can look forward to that can balance everything you do or “are meaning to do.”
I invite you to try ceremony. Maybe when you think of ceremony you imagine something religion-related or a rite of passage: going to a holy place of worship, a wedding, a funeral, a graduation. This kind of ceremony I’m suggesting is less….organized. There are three major components that structure it.
- Create a setting. This can be as elaborate or as casual as you’d like. The aim is to make a space for yourself that is comfortable and undisrupted. I like to light candles and incense (if possible have a small bonfire), have a bowl of water, sit in front of my bookcase or outside in the grass, and play some grounding music.
- Have something special. Again, this does not need to be elaborate. The aim here is to separate this time from your daily grind. I like to have at least one special thing that is constant and one that is spontaneous or according to how I’m feeling. Every time I go into ceremony I open my Mesa, most times I use tarot and oracle cards, and each time I add more thing(s) that may not be in every ceremony but feel special like wearing a certain color or mala beads, journaling or burning hopes and fears, etc. I celebrate the full and new moon phases and the changes, emotions, and happenings of the month. This is your celebration, so be creative!
- Use intent. I always open and close the ceremony. Maybe you believe in a god to talk to, or you can simply say “I am opening this space” then “I close this space with gratitude.” Sometimes as you speak, the intentions flow out. I call to the four directions (south/fire, west/water, north/earth, east/air) and greet the sun and moon. To close, I give thanks. My intent is in the form of meditating, inviting insight and guidance into the space, beating my drum and rattle, and having fun with it. There’s no need to overthink anything, but be sure to have loving, curious intention. When you show up open and present, there is so much to receive.
How does this help communication?
A personal ceremony, like other communal ceremonies and holidays, is a way to connect. Even though your personal ceremony is held in solitude, you are grounding yourself. You may find after however many ceremonies that you feel more connected to nature and to all beings. Or, you may seem to feel nothing at all. At the very least, giving yourself a special time and place naturally increases your sense of compassion, appreciation, and peace which then naturally improves your interactions in general. When I speak my intentions, I learn to speak from the heart. This means not having to think about what you’re saying. It’s not the same as blurting out whatever and regretting it or “I didn’t mean it,” but instead speaking with your “true voice” that flows perfectly, confidently, kindly, effortlessly and never with afterthought (“I shouldn’t have said that,” “I wish I said this”). When you practice speaking this way on your own, it becomes “safer” and easier to do it “out there” with other people. We communicate more clearly when we speak with truth and integrity. Confidently saying what’s on your mind and speaking your truth can be differentiated. Do you need a ceremony to do that? From my experience, it’s a great option with gradual results.
When I open my Mesa and set up a place twice a month, it feels expansive, empowering, and full of possibility. It becomes a metaphor for my life. I hope your ceremony, whatever and whenever it may be, connects you to the feeling of expansiveness, empowerment, and possibility that is your life.