Tag Archives: ritual

Chuck’s Place: The Key To Connection

Robert Monroe queries his out-of-body guide:

“Can we meet again?”

All you need do is ask for our help.”

“You mean meditating? Saying prayers?”

The words and rituals are meaningless. It is the thought… the emotion… that is the signal. If the proper signal is given, we are able to help.”*

In this vignette, Robert Monroe is taught that the key to connection with a life-force beyond our physical body lies with the power of our intent. It’s not specifically the words we recite or think but the quality of our feeling and thought behind those worlds that matter.

Always reach out toward that greater mystery... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Always reach out toward that greater mystery…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

This quality is characterized by a confidence, a calm knowing, beyond any clouds of doubt, of the existence of a link to a greater mystery that will indeed respond to our innocent asking. It’s not really the technique that matters, but suspending limiting beliefs and opening to the possibility in peace and modesty.

Marie Louise von Franz, Jung’s closest collaborator writes, “Easterners would call that being in Tao. If you are in Tao, that is, if you are in harmony with the deepest layers of your personality, with your totality in the Self, then it acts through you in this way. But you mustn’t have ego intention… with your ego you block this effect. You put yourself between the natural possibility.”**

Transcendental Meditation (TM) has been an effective method to transcend the limits of conventional thought and effect changes in the body not thought possible by mental means. The practice involves a simple relaxation process combined with a special word or mantra assigned to the meditator that is thought to be imbued with spiritual intention.

Many years ago, Dr. Herbert Benson, then a Harvard cardiologist, was able to replicate the effects of TM by utilizing the same relaxation procedure, coupled however with a simple word, like the word “One,” versus a specialized mantra. He titled this method the Relaxation Response. The suggestion here was that results were achieved due to the power of the intent behind the word and not necessarily the word itself.

Many religions suggest the use of codified prayers to connect with saints or the highest deiety. While some individuals may find benefit in such practice, others find the words rote and meaningless, preferring instead to simply talk to God directly, oftentimes getting a direct response!

In the Catholic religion, the ritual of Mass includes the rite of Communion whereby a practitioner is offered direct connection with God through physically consuming a consecrated host. For some this ritual leads to a spiritual connection, for others there is great disappointment as the experience falls short, completely devoid of connection. Perhaps, once again, the key to connection lies not in passive expectation but in active intention.

Years into his apprenticeship, Carlos Castaneda asked his teacher, don Juan Matus, about his extensive use of ritual during Carlos’s early training, with such props as mescalito, “the little smoke;” the wind; the spirits of the river, mountains, and the desert chaparral. Carlos reports that Don Juan said “he had gone into all that pseudo Indian shaman rigamarole for my benefit.”***

Don Juan went on to say, “I knew I was doing it for your benefit… I tricked you by holding your attention on items of your world that held a profound fascination for you… All I needed was to get your undivided attention.” *** And with that undivided attention Carlos was able to transcend the limits of time space reality and interact with a life-force beyond ordinary reality.

Ready for the great mysteries to be revealed? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Ready for the great mysteries?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Ritual is effective if it serves to gather our attention. Our modern world has lost interest in ritual, however, as it simply doesn’t deliver on-demand, and our scientific minds can’t help but judge its worth in such a manner. However, if we allow our attention to be galvanized, by directing it in the form of a spirited intention, it indeed becomes a pathway to connection.

I recall my own young innocent intent to know God. Simply put, I stated: “I do not believe in you. I have no reason to. Send me a definite sign tonight and I’ll know you exist.”

My final warning here, be careful what you ask for. If the intention is in the right alignment, from an innocent heart, you may be blown away by the response. I still am!


*Quote from Robert Monroe, Ultimate Journey, page 19.

**Quote from Marie Louise von Franz, Shadow and Evil in Fairytales, page 198.

***Quotes from Carlos Castaneda, Wheel of Time, page 23.

Readers of Infinity: Time For The Self

Here is Jeanne’s message for the week:

A cushion on the floor may be all it takes to establish sacred space... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
A cushion on the floor may be all it takes to establish sacred space…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

It is not necessary to be overly strict, to be held down too tightly by the reins of rules, processes, and dictum. Yet discipline is necessary in a spiritual practice or in simply instigating change.

In the beginning, use rules and well-deserved practices to gain footing, to learn how to do something new, but don’t forget to allow the Self, the deeper self, to be part of the process, especially whenever that deeper self begins to show signs of awakening. Rigidity may not be beneficial in the long run. After a while, fluidity in everything is more helpful as you evolve a spiritual practice, as you learn a new skill, as you bend your mind to accept new ideas.

If the world is to change then each one of you must change. And if each one of you is to change then you must challenge yourself to take a step forward, to move beyond the self you now are. It is time for all beings to open up to the greater flow of life and the energy that moves through you all. And so I challenge you all to begin a new practice that will open you in a new direction, a direction of your spirit.

Dance. Take a class. Take a walk. And then do it again. Read a book. Write a letter. Think a new thought. All of these simple things may be just what you need to open a door to a new self.

Once the door is open, the next challenge begins—to keep going! And that is where discipline comes in. Set some rules that you know are doable and then do them! Once you get into a rhythm, challenge the self to go deeper. Go to many classes. Take longer walks. Sit in silence for longer and longer. Read more; write more.

Let’s say that each morning you will meet the rising sun and set an intention for the day. Do it religiously for a month. Then add something else to your practice. Read from a meaningful book, something that inspires you. Take your reading with you into your day. Let it ruminate. Begin to see its significance. Let your thoughts flow through you without attachment. Begin to observe the self. You might notice changes, subtle at first, but gradually you will notice that they stick.

Allow the self time for the self each day. Begin with establishing that practice: time for the self. Make this time important, sacred, set, not to be missed. Make it ritual. Make it personally relevant.

Sacred time can then be brought into everything you do. Make your chores sacred time. Make your work sacred time. Make your routines sacred time. Just be where you are, comfortably present.

Begin to observe the self as you allow sacredness to enter your life. I speak of personal sacredness, meaningful to you in your modern life, in anything and everything you do.

If you change life, life will change you! Try it!

A Day in a Life: I Am Here

I focus on staying present. I am doing yoga.

“I am here,” I say. “I am here in this body, in this moment.”

“I am me,” I say. “I am me in this body.”

“I am this body,” I say. “I live here on earth in this body.”

“I am here,” I say. “I am me.”

I am present in this moment...

As I move and breathe, I bring my attention back again and again to the moment, to being present in my body. I thank myself for giving myself this healing time and I thank the universe for providing the paths I took to get to this moment of this day. I take each moment as sacred, as ritual.

I take a moment to write down my thoughts of awareness of being, of being in my body, of being in the moment of doing yoga somewhere in the world, a small speck of awareness in the universe, one small speck of knowing that I am alive, intent on being fully present in my body.

Sometimes I am pretty aware of being present in my body, but most often I am not. Most often I am somewhere else, my body along for the ride. But in this moment, I am aware that my body is my natural environment, my beingness resides in it and depends on it, needs it, trusts it. I am in the moment, present and enjoying the rituals of doing yoga, of breathing, and of being consciously aware.

Ritual of Fire

After I do yoga, I carry the wood from the woodpile. I build a fire and light it, another ritual. I am aware that this is a ritual performed by millions of others. Since fire became a part of human life this ritual has been important. As I carry out the steps of making my fire, I am aware that I am partaking in an ancient practice of firemaking for the same reasons that eons of people have made fires. I do not cook over my fire, but I seek warmth. I am part of an ancient ritual today as I make my fire. I honor the ritual and I honor myself in the process of partaking in this ritual. I honor all who have done this before me.

I take time to notice that I am present. I am me. I am in my body, present in this moment doing this ritual. In the next moment the fire is burning well. I can turn to other things now, back to my writing, back to preparing for other rituals that come throughout the day, if I care to see them as such.

I remind myself to slow down and take the time to feel myself in my body often throughout the day, present in the moment and in my awareness of being, as often as possible. I remind myself to remain aware that my daily activities and chores are part of my ritual life too.

Honor and create ritual

I remind myself to invent new rituals as I go along, making life sacred, simply because it is and it deserves to be lived in sacred fashion. I deserve it, the earth deserves it, all creatures—man included—deserve the honor of sacred ritual. If we all slowed down and made our personal lives sacred rituals, if we all invented our own personal rituals—honoring and thanking ourselves, our bodies, others in our lives, the universe—perhaps we’d end up with enough pauses full of calmness and peace to temper the otherwise busy and fast-paced world we live in.

When we slow down enough we realize we don’t really need that fast-paced world. We discover we don’t really want to live like that. When we slow down we discover that we, by our very animal nature, are more connected to the earth and the sacred ritual of a simple life than we realized. When we slow down we walk and breathe the pulse of the earth and it calms us and nurtures us beyond anything else we might have available.

We desire our vacations by the ocean, a lake, in the calmness of the mountains or meadows because we are animals who crave nature’s slow pace and the beat of our heart knows this. By establishing our personal rituals we automatically slow to the beat of our heart, and automatically our perception of our personal place in the world shifts too. We actually become one with nature, connected and aware of being in the moment, in our bodies, in the right place: in total beingness.

The Sacred Beat of Nature

No matter what is going on around us or inside us, when we slow everything down and take a sacred moment we are at peace. Even if only for a moment, it is enough.

Tomorrow I will build a different fire, but the ritual, the process, will have the same ancient energy in it. Whether I focus on the ritual of it or not, whether I am as aware as I am today, I will still be tapping into the energy of ancient ritual. I know this energy of infinity, as ancient as the tapping of my own heartbeat. It is as ancient as the tapping of your own heartbeat, one pulse, beating for eternity. The ritual is already present. We just have to make ourselves available to it and tap into it.

As humans we have so much available to us. Our creative energy begs us to pause and pay attention to its insistence that we are not so modern as we might believe. We are ancient energy and we know instinctively how to connect with it and what to do with it.

Find sacred ritual in life, in nature, in self. Be in the moment. Be present in the body self. Breathe with awareness. That too is ritual. Be thankful to the self and the universe and then pause and listen to its reply. In the calm beat of your own heart you will hear its resonant beat.

Present in the moment, in calmness, in beingness,