One major technique for calming yourself is to perform a ritual. This ritual should involves a location that makes you comfortable and happy – perhaps even inspire a little wonder – like a beautiful work of art. This area should be alive with positive feelings - items that help you focus and inspire you should be maintained on your altar.
I have a table that measures about 4’ x 2’ and it is tucked in a nook where the stairway reaches the second floor of my house.
Put a cloth on it. Use one that pleases you, as if you were setting the table for someone both beloved and very important. You can use more than one cloth as I prefer so that if one becomes smudged, you can change it. It can be of any color or print that moves you.
Have available near your altar a few candles in colors that will go with your cloths, a candle holder – plain or fancy –, a ritual goblet for wine. You will use this at the end of your ritual. If you are going to ritualize paperwork, which I will have to do if I ever expect to get it done, gather some colored pens and a couple of pencils with erasers. I like those “Joy Ink” pens, the big package that holds lots of colors. They come in handy when you color your mandalas[i] If your table has a drawer – which you might find quite handy – you could put them in the drawer along with your checkbook, or leave space for your laptop if you pay bills electronically. Perhaps, if you have always wanted to be a writer, you could include writing in your rituals.
Place a journal on your table so that you can write notes on how the ritual has gone for you. Maybe you will want to change the order or your ritual because it will work out better for you. if they inspire you, you may want pictures of your family or places that you want to visit. If incense helps you work, that would be a nice addition.
You will need a timer, either to keep yourself in a state of mindfulness long enough or to keep you from getting lost in mindfulness too long.
If you don’t have a place that you can set up permanently, get a briefcase type carrying case that you can put your things in it when not in use.
It is also nice to have a way to shut out the rest of the world while you’re working. A curtain or a door. Have some comfortable clothes that you like for longer rituals.
Your First Ritual
For you first ritual we will set up your altar just to get the feel of it.
- Place the cloth on the table.
- Place a complimentary candle in your candle holder and light it.
- Place it on a part of the table that will not get in the way of other activities that you plan to complete.
- Take any pictures and place them so that they will provide the inspiration you need.
- For example, if you are paying bills and want to save up to go somewhere, place a picture of that location or person you want to see prominently.
- If you are planning your calendar of social occasions place a picture or pictures of those you want to spend time with.
- Light your incense.
- Pour a half a goblet of wine (or a whole – your choice) and place it on the altar. Think of it as a gift to your higher self.
- Now set your timer, sit back and mindfully look at your altar.
- Watch the candle flicker, notice the wax melting.
- Smell the fragrance of the candle or the incense.
- Which individual fragrances can you smell.
- Does the smoke travel in a somewhat straight line or does it wander around like some Arabian dancer?
- Look at the cloth you have chosen. Is it still pleasing with all of your items on it or would you use another one next time?
If other thoughts seem to want to intrude, just let them come up – and identify them – and let them drift away. If an incident from your past comes up and brings you joy, just identify it – oh, I know you – Joy. And let it move on. If you remember something that makes you feel sad, do the same – identify it – sadness, sadness, and let it pass. Don’t try to hang on to either one. Don’t try to push them away. Just return to observing your altar.
If ideas come from your future about something that is scheduled to happen, treat them the same way. Bow to happiness, sorrow, joy, fear, whatever comes up. You know it. You have felt it before. Just let it drift up and then go away like the waves of the ocean.
When your timer tells you that enough time has passed. Bring yourself to the present.
Sit in your quiet mood and drink your beverage and think about what has just happened to you. You might want to make notes at this time.
When you are done put out your candle and consider the ritual over for now (I would let the incense finish burning). Straighten up your altar or pack it away for now.
I hope you feel the calm.
Our next page tells you how to turn a regular bath into a Self Soothing Ritual Bath.
[i] Mandalas were first used in therapy by Carl Jung, who found that the act of drawing mandalas had a calming effect on patients while at the same time facilitating psychic integration. There is a scarcity of controlled empirical studies of the healing impact of mandalas on mental health. …the purpose of our study was to examine the benefits for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of processing traumatic events through the creation of mandalas.
How did your First Ritual go? How did it make you feel? We would like to know. Use the Comment form to tell us.