Participating in a ritual is an act of letting go. By creating sacred space every day, even for 5 minutes, we consciously choose to step into a space of no interruptions, of respite from the urgency and the demands of the day. We let go of the busy self.
Have you noticed that each of the major events in our lives calls for a ritual that has storytelling at the core? We get married, and special friends are chosen to tell stories about the bride and groom; at a funeral we honor the ones who passed with stories of remembrance; at bat and bar mitzvah we tell stories about possibilities, love for and protection of the young.
Yet there are too many difficulties and transitions in our modern, hectic and complex lives, situations through which we go alone, without a tribe or a community to hold us tightly, without creating sacred space where we acknowledge and release that which does not serve us anymore; without a ritual to call onto new, fresh possibilities, without being seen or heard, trying to put on a brave face, hiding our perceived failures, and trying to move on. With many internal and external old and new “stories,” competing for our attention, it is easy to get stuck
In this space of quiet time, the ritual space, we make room for the magic of the possibility– we transition from asleep to awake, or vice versa, from lack of clarity to having direction, from being stuck to inspired, and from being busy to being relaxed. We make coffee, or tea, stretch, light a candle, read a poem, dance, meditate or breathe, tell ourselves a grand story about how the day will go, and for a few minutes we live in universal time.
In the Art of Letting Go we invite people to join in a ritual of play, acting and storytelling. The participants embody old emotions so that they can let go of them. They embody new possibilities, to be able to embrace them.
We guide the participants through a process that helps them expand their breathing, their choices, their inner space, so that they can get to a place where they feel comfortable in their own skin. The role of the guide is to point towards possibilities, and to support the participant to structure her own process, not to give her solutions.
Yet, how do we manage to create a ritual for a group of strangers who are working on different things and who may not feel at ease to share their personal stories or inner struggles with others?
We invite them to tell stories through archetypes, or through archetypal characters. One such archetype (both male and female) is the Hero. The dark side of the Hero is that she is battling on behalf of the others, always, and unless she sets strong boundaries courageously, her vital energy may be depleted. Most of the times, modern Heroes are depleted.
The participant starts telling her story from a larger perspective (The Hero), and does not need to give personal details to make her story true and poignant. As she delights in storytelling, she is able to detach and see some blind spots, she may become inspired, and she may experience for herself what letting go feels like, and what her transition and possibilities may be. Furthermore, by telling the story of her own “battles,” and doubts (it is really difficult to abdicate from the Hero’s role), she may inspire others to experience and welcome their own “Hero.”
Telling the “story” from the perspective of an archetype frees the participant from defensiveness, from repeating old patterns and allows her to connect with her higher self and with the larger community in healthier ways. We do not need personal details to be able to understand the essence of a person’s story. Love. heartache, sadness, lust are universal themes. In this environment, one person’s epiphany becomes another person’s release.
In such a group, synchronicity abounds. One person may live the Hero’s difficult story and may yearn to become the Hermit in order to hide from the world for a while, and to replenish. Yet another person in the same group, may have lived the Hermit’s story for a while, and now may yearn to return to the world and be a Hero. Through shared experiences, these two strangers meet in the middle of their transition path. Embodying fears and desires they may experience catharsis and personal healing. The release of old stories, in a space structured as a theater play, becomes easier, magical even, and opens possibilities for deeper vitality, compassion for others and for one’s Self.
In one workshop, the “Hero” was depleted and experiencing painful physical symptoms. As she started exploring the journey from Hero to Hermit, and as she was embodying her personal deep emotions and releasing them, her physical symptoms subsided considerably.
Transitions, loss, coming together, moving apart, letting go of all desires or dreams, all these important moments need and deserve a ritual that allows one to close old chapters and to open new ones.
A ritual can be something as small as preparing coffee or tea mindfully, every morning, taking a moment to relax, to breathe deeply, to pay attention to one’s body, to read the news or simply to enjoy a moment of peace before the day begins.
To make the small ritual just a bit more elaborate, one could add an intention daily—for instance to be a better artist, a better storyteller, a person who is good with money, a better parent, partner, or sibling. One can add a series of repetitive actions that engage the physical and the creative self, such as stretching, writing a paragraph, drawing symbols, or mandalas, solving a puzzle, etc. Directing the mind and the body towards a goal daily, even as briefly as a few minutes, helps one realign with one’s larger purpose in life. As we step into the daily ritual, we have an opportunity to let go of fears and anxiety and to become centered, strong, back into “the body.” We don’t always, but we have THE opportunity to “embody” new possibilities, literally.
A ritual can be something larger and more elaborate such as a reunion, a retreat or a planned w-end meeting with brothers and sisters, blood siblings, or chosen “siblings. During a larger ritual, participants may tell stories, be “seen” and “held” inside the sacred space of love and empathy. The rules that work best are simple: no judgement, no advice and no interruptions. Being “seen” and “heard” works miracles as it allows us to find and trust our inner voice.
I have developed The Art of Letting Go as a performance, as a ritual in itself, where the participants bring old and new identities or “selves”, learn how to transition into new situations, by embodying emotions, and by releasing them. We use creative means such as storytelling, psychodrama, enacting archetypes, drawing and mind maps.
If you are inspired to create a small ritual for yourself, at home, this is easy to do. You set up a space where you can be alone for even 5 minutes, you create an intention (even something easy such as breathing 20 times mindfully, works), you connect with your body and spirit in any way that gives you delight and enhances your aliveness. If you wish, you can write a one paragraph story about the great day ahead of you, a day when you conquer a challenge, for instance. Try it consistently for 30 days. Observe what happens in your life during that time. You may be in for a treat!