"I'm sorry for the pain and suffering that I caused to you, Jacob [my eldest son] through my incompetent and ignorant early parenting." This post is about recapturing the juice of life by discovering the performance of ritual.
I felt on edge today.
It started well enough. A day at home, lots of time, sunny weather, working through the superficial tasks that I'd set myself as if meaningful.
But by the evening, I was agitated and irritable. Not myself.
I stood looking around for something that would give me that missing sense of joy. Not the fun of sensory distraction, but the joy and juice of life.
"What the hell is missing!?" I wrote in my journal as I tried to reflect on something that felt somehow so obvious but somehow so elusive.
I couldn't summon any motivation to go for a run, or lift weights, or read a book, or write a blog post.
I then remembered a note to self that I made a couple of days ago: "weekly hot yoga/chi bath" - it was a shorthand reminder to explore the use of rituals.
Suddenly I felt that spark and I knew exactly what to do next.
Hot water on.. Beeswax candle.. Cedarwood oil.. Frankincense oil.. Epsom salts.. Symbolically meaningful gemstone given to me recently after an ordeal..
I've never had a bath with a candle before. That's never been my thing. But what I recently learned about ritual is that it is a performance.
Just like a movie or a meal or magic, ritual appeals to deeply basic and powerful parts of us that in adults are usually buried under the clutter of the modern mind's logic, knowledge and schedules.
The word I hold is 'cinematic' - make your inner experience cinematic. I discovered that for myself a number of years ago for making guided visualisations work really well. Make it dramatic, or cool, or whatever appeals to the sensation-seeking kid inside you.
Remember: It's a performance. You are putting on a show.. for yourself.
This does not mean it's fake, or that you're tricking yourself. This is an act of connection and communion with the deep parts of yourself which hold the purse strings on your power and life force and which also happen operate at this level of magic and mystery and madness.
Note - my head is also full of 'evidence-based science knowledge' about the effect of candle flicker rate on the mammalian nervous system, the pharmacology of essential oils, the psychophysiology of thermal exposure and breathing patterns, and so on..
But rather than discard these thoughts aggressively, I hijacked them to further fuel the heady biology of belief that I was conjuring in my bathtub. I ensured that what I was doing made full enough sense to myself on every level. No part of me was quietly thinking, "this is really silly... what the heck am I doing.."
Ok, so let's set the scene up:
This was not to be a relaxing soak in the tub. That's not what I mean by ritual. This was intensely hot. My heart was pounding. The lights were off but for the candle which was now sputtering from the condensation that was starting to rain back down from the ceiling.
Building the intensity:
Then I started with the special breathing. I don't know what it's called - maybe the power breath or something like that - deep and fast. Full, fast and deep inhalations and exhalations. Not easy, not comfortable. Likely not medically safe for some people.
After a couple of minutes of this, I started to feel this powerful tingling sense of energy coursing through my forearms and hands. I've felt this before from related practices.
Progressively I was working myself up into an intense state with the combination of the hot water and breathing, compounded by the strong deliberation and intention set by the intricate preparation involved.
Getting to the next level:
Now I start with the 'confessions' - declaring audibly albeit quietly - "I'm sorry for the pain and suffering that I caused to you, Jacob through my incompetent and ignorant early parenting".. My mum.. My dad.. And on..
Not losing the plot altogether. Still consciously purposeful. The 'confessions' whilst in this state achieved through the heat and breathing, readily led me to cry. And with that, I felt the hand energy thing burst into a new level intensity as if to confirm that 'it was working'
Not bad for a bored Monday night in the bathtub, eh?
I didn't hang around or draw it out any longer than that. I had recaptured that missing sense of life force, released some emotional stuff, and was inspired to write this blog post. Plus, my rational, time-keeping mind still wants me to get to bed at a reasonable hour.
Night folks x