Finding your true north in a crowded world

Ritual is the passage way of the soul into the infinite.   Algernon Blackwood

In our society many of the old rituals have lost much of their power. New ones have not yet arisen.    R.D. Laing

Each year it’s the same. The new year rolls around and the tabloids and media are brimming with the latest trends, top ten things to help you get fit, be happier, smarter, more likeable. What we really need is less input. What we really need is less information, fewer overwhelming statistics, fewer fads to follow, superfoods to eat or workouts to try. What we really need is some simple rituals.

Rituals? I don’t mean dancing around naked under a full moon. Though you could if you were inclined. I refer to small practices that hold meaning for us. Small truths we can return to daily, weekly or when needed to replenish us. Practices or customs that allow us to step away from the constant focus on the physical and material. Everyday rituals act as compass points that bring us back to ourselves, not our personas as mother, executive, fitness fanatic. But truths that help us shrug off all the labels and hats we wear and remind us of who we are under the layers of societal silt. Small, everyday rituals allow us to settle into our skin and know who we are.

I have written before about the void a lack of religion has created in our daily lives. Many of us would not recognise or admit this. But I believe the constant seeking, looking for more, trying to have more, be more, do more is a result of a shift in our society away from community, ritual and ceremony. If you aren’t particularly interested in returning to dogma inspired worship you can enrich life with some everyday rituals.

Ritual is not to be confused with routine. We have routines that help stave off chaos: we rise and eat breakfast at the same time each day, we catch the bus from the nearest bus stop, and we go to the gym or yoga on certain days of the week. Routines keep us on track and make us feel in control. Routines provide structure and order and allow everything to run like clockwork. Routine is good; it reduces decision-making and ensures things get done. It can also strangle and constrain. Rituals, while also offering a stabilising anchor in the craziness of an overcrowded life, are gentler, less rigid and bring a sense of mystery and, dare I say, magic to life.

Ritual strengthens me spiritually. You may prefer to think of ritual as providing a sense of belonging and stabilisation. Ritual brings the beauty of life back into focus. Ritual reconnects us with the natural world, the inner world and rewards us in ways status, money and the latest HIIT workout cannot. In essence, ritual provides time out from daily routine, it helps us re-evaluate our path and provides us with ways to author our own lives.

Certainly some rituals may become habits and thus thought of as routines but the distinction is always there. Rising early to watch the sunrise could become a habit but the ritual comes from being present and enjoying the sights, sounds and the emotion of the moment. Soaking in a bubble bath each Friday could become a routine but the ritual comes with the intention for the week’s worries and stress to recede as the bubbles pop. Other everyday rituals might include investing in our loved ones by setting the table, serving a meal without television, phones or distractions but a focus on conversation and listening. Lighting a candle on the anniversary of a loved one’s passing. These small practices enrich us.

Like many, I suffer when my inner world is ignored. I love tarot, astrology and psychic stuff. I am also a realist. I work in the mainstream, need to address people in a range of settings so I understand and respect conventional societal norms and boundaries. I don’t have the luxury of casting off and living atop a mountain to brew my potions and commune with the elements daily, though I am invested in developing spiritually because it makes me whole points me toward my true north. With this in mind I’ll share a couple of rituals I have been practicing in the following posts that aren’t too ‘woo woo’ or freaky that help create balance in a crowded, information driven world.  Do you have some you could share?

A year of inspiration. Inspired by: Sunday Telegraph January 7, 2018

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Our ageless spirit

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You are not merely the physical body that you identify with out of habit. Your essential state is a field of infinite possibilities. Deepak Chopra

Do you ever look in the mirror and have that split second where you don’t recognise the face you see because it’s an older version of the self you feel you are?

I have, on a few occasions,  been momentarily surprised by the mature face reflected back at me.  You see, in essence, I don’t feel any different to how I did when I was younger. Oh, I’ve experienced a lot, learnt many lessons and grown as a result but the core of me, my true essence, my spirit if you will feels ageless.

I recently had a birthday and was reflecting with a friend that I felt no older but the image in the mirror tells a different story. My friend shared a conversation he had with his grandmother before she passed away at the wonderful age of 97. He asked her if she felt her life had gone quickly and she said it had “been a flash”.  She went on to say that she felt no different then, in the last stages of her life, to how she had felt as a young woman. She did, however, lament that her body could not keep up with her spirit.

I too remember visiting with my beloved grandmother, also in her late nineties when she left this world, and having the distinct sense of her spirit; her young and vibrant spirit. My Nana, despite her beautiful, soft, lived in skin and frail frame reminded me of a young girl. It was obvious over the years her body was deteriorating and she was losing mobility but she was always in essence a young woman in my mind. Her eyes twinkled with a youthfulness that belied her earth years.

Grandmothers are simply antique little girls.

Grandmothers are simply antique little girls.

My friend reminded me that while our bodies age our spirits do not. I find that at once sad and yet incredibly miraculous. Sad, because the husk that is our body changes so very rapildly and often before we are ready. Miraculous, because I believe we have a soul, a part of us that lives long after our body.  I’ve seen the soul of another shine through the eyes of a 95 year old woman, my friend has also. I’ve seen a body without the life force within it and it truly was just a shell. I’ve felt my soul, within this body of mine.

As my body ages and skews out of shape; as my hair turns silver and my face looks more like a hiking trail than a smooth untrampled plain; I am buoyed knowing my spirit, my soul, doesn’t  age. Each day I become more aware of my spirit. Each day I sense my own essence more deeply. Each day I understand better that there is a part of me that will continue long after my body retires. Each day I learn to trust and to embrace this knowledge and each day it brings me a greater sense of peace.

Within each of us lives a fascinating, vibrant essence that shines brightly.