Ritual Spirituality

Alex Robboy, CAS, MSW, LCSW
Individual, Couples & Family Therapy
IMAGO Certified Marriage Counselor
AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor
Founder & Director of the Center for Growth Inc.

Posted by: Alex Robboy
CAS, MSW, LCSW Individual, Couples & Family Therapy IMAGO Certified Marriage Counselor AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor Founder & Director of the Center for Growth Inc.

Ritual Spirituality: Tools for Positive Change

Spirituality is mystifying to many because of its unseen qualities. That something so abstract could carry such a profound affect on the human psyche makes the spiritual quest both enticing and a bit unnerving. Choosing a spiritual path is not always simple or definite, but it is important. Particularly when trying to accomplish a sense of overall well being or wholeness. Once on that path, navigating it becomes the next great challenge. Because of the highly individual nature of the course, guidance is not always easy to obtain. Even more tricky is attempting to use the intangible experiences of the spiritual journey to effect substantial changes in concrete life. Harnessing the elusive qualities of spirit to create positive physical change may sound impossible, but it’s actually much simpler than many realize. Rituals are the tools whereby we can connect our spiritual life to our mundane one, in order to produce a constructive impact on our world.

What are rituals exactly? How do they harness spiritual energy and how do they affect physical outcome? Rituals are carefully designed sets of behavior that speak directly to our subconscious mind. Whether they are performed once or repeated daily, they have the ability to change our lives and the world around us. By tapping into our latent selves, they focus our energies and those that surround us on accomplishing certain tasks. What is often perceived as a spontaneous product of ritual is usually the result of redirected energy and focus leading to a series of naturally occurring events. In other words, it’s a bit like knocking over a line of dominoes- one thing leads to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Though this may be occurring under our noses, we aren’t always totally conscious of it. In the end, we find that what we had hoped or desired seems to magically appear.

Examples of rituals can be found in every culture and in every age. Many rituals are adopted and performed by large groups, such as prayer in connection with varying religions. Consider holidays and their culturally rich rituals. How many years have you decorated a Christmas tree or lit the candles on a birthday cake? Superstitions are usually disguised rituals. Did you throw salt over your shoulder the last time you spilt it, or blow on a set of dice before you rolled them? While we may recognize and participate in the rituals that surround us all the time, what many people have still failed to realize is that we can design our own rituals. Creating and using rituals is a great way to suffuse everyday life with spiritual joy. It’s also a powerful tool for positive change.

Designing a personal ritual can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. Though they don’t have to be connected to spirituality, there is something intensely enriching about doing so. Think of a problem you are currently facing or a need that you have. As an example, let’s consider that you are looking for a job. Now, consider your spiritual path. In order to design a ritual that is spiritually enriching and aimed at helping you find a job, you will need to pinpoint a symbol for both your need or goal, and your spiritual path. Symbolism is the secret language of ritual. It’s the undercurrent of exchange and communication that happens while you go about your daily life and brings you closer to your goal. Money could be quite symbolic of your need for a job. A simple ritual could involve dropping a penny (the symbol of your need) in a jar every morning before you go out to interview. The spiritual side can be included by perhaps pasting a picture of your idea of God or deity on the jar, or by reciting a simple prayer to that deity as you drop in your penny. It can even be represented by something simpler, like a color (purple is commonly associated with spirituality) or a word of your choice (perhaps “Possibility” or “Success”) written on the jar.

Once the job is obtained, you can take the pennies and go shopping for something nice to wear to work as a reward. Or donate them to your local church or an organization affiliated with your spiritual path. This gives the ritual a definite end.  There are few limits on personal ritual design. Be creative and have fun with it. Think positive and remember to visualize your desired outcome as you participate. By doing so, you are not only connecting your spiritual side to the rest of your life, but you are utilizing all of your resources to bring positive change into it.