Recently, I saw a patient- we'll call her Lily- at CLEAR Center of Health, where I practice holistic women's health. Lily had recently transitioned into menopause and experienced a big loss when she stopped following the rhythms of her body. She didn't realize until it was gone how much she yearned for the cyclic life rhythm her menstrual cycles brought to her. Her menopause coincided with the end of a relationship and her only son going off to college, so it was a time of loss already, and she sensed the need to renew her connection to the earth’s cyclic rhythms.
A New Cycle
Lily is an avid gardener and tends orchids. She also loves star-gazing. One night, she conceived an idea for a new monthly ritual. She had always followed the phases of the moon and felt different energies in her body during the new moon and full moon, with subtle but real energetic shifts in between. Now that her menstrual cycles are no longer there to remind her of the monthly possibility of life, she takes her orchids for a moondance. Really! A moon dance. I love it.
During different moon phases, she takes her orchids outside, holds them up in the moonglow and let’s her freak flag fly. Her orchids represent a monthly rebirth, a transition from bloom-less stalk to delicate flower. So while she can’t bear children anymore, she can bear orchids. Celebrating them in the light of the moon fills her with a sense of monthly connectedness, with her body and Mother Earth. Doing so has filled her with the cyclic energy she craved, and the psychic loss she experienced with menopause ameliorated.
Lily's story filled me with awe and wonder for her strength, beauty, ancient wisdom, and innovative creativity. It got me thing about the power of ritual. How might we help utilize ritual to honor, nourish, celebrate, mourn, or deepen our experience with life. Our Marin Pink Posse gatherings resonate with loads of ritual. We bring talisman's to represent our mojo or our creativity. We then pass them in circles while one of us rings a bell and we all honor our talismans in silence. We dance across the Pink Threshold. Ritual symbolizes the deeper essence of Owning Pink for us.
I also celebrate my own rituals. Every morning before I sit down to write for Owning Pink, I ignite a candle on my home altar. light incense, and kneel. I offer up the heavens anything I need to release in order to stay clear and open, and I pray for guidance as I interact with you Pinkies, to make sure my heart remains filled with love. Every day I set an intention. Often, it is merely May I find inner peace and be in service to the world. Sometimes it is more specific, such as when Mojo Mentor Fred told his story about his communion with angels and I set the intention that Fred feel love and acceptance all day long. This daily ritual allows me to step out of the mundane that often precedes this ritual, such as wiping my 3 year old daughter's bottom and letting the dog outside to pee. It elevates my awareness to a higher plane and awakens me to the magic that is all around me.
Replacing Cravings With Healthy, Healing Rituals
Rituals can also replace things we crave. Are you menopausal and miss your menses? Try moondancing! Are you trying to quit but crave the chance to go outside and have a moment of silence? Then go outside when you would have smoked and meditate. Are you trying (like me) to give up that evening glass of wine? How 'bout a ceremonial cup of tea while listening to your favorite soothing music instead? Or a guided imagery session on CD?
As doctors, we're always asking our patients to give up things they cling to, such as that extra cup of cappucino or that obesity-inducing ice cream or that bagel when they have a gluten-allergy. But we often fail to realize that what we’re asking them to do is to give up a ritual they are using to medicate a need. What if we could help them replace the cappucino with a ritual that meets the same need? What if we could help our grieving menopausal patients by inviting them to moondance? What a concept.
5 Rituals To Fill You Up
1. Kneel at your home altar and express gratitude for three things that make you joyful and bring you mojo.
2. Go outside and ask a question you want the Universe to answer. With this question firmly in your mind, choose a stone, flower or other object in nature. Sit down with your object and describe it in detail. Write the details in your journal if you wish. Now examine those details. Chances are, you'll find the answer to your question is in those details.
3. Designate your favorite candle as your dream candle. Before bed, light this candle and invite your dreams to share with you the wisdom of what you need to know to live your life fully. Just before you're ready to go to sleep, blow out the candle and close your eyes. Get ready to dream.
4. Buy a bell whose sound you love. When you feel tense, anxious, fearful, angry, or sad, find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and ring your bell. Listen to the sound it makes. Ask God to bring you inner peace through the sound of your bell. Keep ringing the bell until you notice a shift inside.
5. On little strips of paper, write down anything in your life that no longer serves you, those things you wish to release. Take a metal bowl or trash can outside, and ceremoniously light each slip of paper, before dropping it in your fireplace metal container. Watch the ashes float into the sky, as the embers of what you've released turn from gold to red to black. Honor what you've released. Now let it go. (Be careful, Pinkies. Don't hurt yourself or burn the house down! But this is a very powerful ritual. Have a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case.)
What if YOU could discover what you really need in order to fill that void. Imagine the moon dance!
How do you use ritual to nourish, heal, and celebrate life, Pinkies? Please share with us...
Kneeling at the altar of what we've created together,
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