The Power of Ritual and Intention

Authored By: 
Tracee Stanley

What are your rituals? How do you consistently invoke a feeling of sacredness and meaning into your life and yoga practice? How can you connect to your intentions and goals in a meaningfuland powerful way?

We have many rituals that we perform daily, from brushing our teeth to drinking our morning tea or coffee. Anything can become a sacred act, even washing the dishes. When we approach daily tasks without intention, reverence, or devotion, they become mundane. That even includes our yoga practice! If we can practice rituals at the same time in the same place and with reverence, we can begin to taste the sweetness of a sacred and intentional life.

When we marry intention with ritual, it allows us time to pause, reflect, let go, and recreate our destiny.  Rituals are a way to continually propel us toward our highest purpose.  Otherwise, we may never take the opportunity to deeply reflect or set intentions until perhaps the end of the year. But by then, we have continually reinforced so many unhelpful patterns and thoughts that we are bound to stay in the same cycle for yet another year because we have nothing consistent to anchor us to a higher purpose. With intentional ritual, we offer ourselves an opportunity to renew our intentions daily andto connect with something greater than ourselves.

Have you noticed seeing more sacred rituals and ceremonies being shared on your Facebook and Instagram feeds? It seems that we are collectively reclaiming the practice of ritual. This newfound love for ritual has been taking many forms, from participating in traditional puja and Vedic fire ceremonies, to mandalas made of flowers, to altars created from a collective of items gathered from students at the beginning of a retreat. Why is it that now we are being called back to the power of ritual?

The answer is we have lost the connection to our ancestors, to their rituals and rites of passage.  We are no longer connected to the seasons, moon phases, and harvesting in meaningful ways.  We are severed from the rhythms of nature and from our own elemental nature. We have all but forgotten that the elements are alive within us and they need to be nurtured. Maybe we are being called to remember our divine nature by seeing it reflected and honored outside of us to helps us recognize that the earth and all living beings are a part of a beautiful web of resplendence and beauty.

The sacred practice of ritual informed by intention adds richness to our practice and to our lives. It can lead us into the cave of our heart and connect us to the deepest and most ancient part of ourselves. A place where we can know steadiness and peace. It is a practice for uncertain times.

Here are a few ideas on how to bring ritual and intention into your daily life:

6 Tips to Activate the Power of Ritual and Intention

1. Create an intention in the form of a prayer, something that leads you closer to fulfilling yourheart’s desire or purpose. Ask yourself to define the highest intention that you can set for yourself.  Remember you are not arriving at your ritual with expectations, but with humility and an open heart. Your prayer might be something like: “Please lead me closer to my heart’s desire.  May everything I do be in alignment for my thriving.”

2. Create an altar or sacred space.Tune into the elements and choose one item to represent each one of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and empty space.  On your altar, place framed pictures of your teachers, relatives, or other loved ones who inspire you and whom you would like to honor.  You may even choose to make physical offerings of fresh flowers, water, or incense each day.

Place your altar somewhere where you will see it daily and be inspired to spend time with it.  Make the space comfortable.  It should feel like you have created a welcoming seatthat feels like coming home.

Make a commitment to visit this altar once a day, offering your love, prayers, gratitude, and blessings. Take this time to connect with your intention and ask for clarity on at least one thing that you can do that day to move you closer to your intention. Notice how you feel each time you sit at your altar.

3. At least once a month, connect with nature: go outdoors for an extended period of time to renew your commitment to your intention.  Take time to journal about what you have learned in the last thirty days. Connecting with the Full or New Moon is a great time for this practice. Try a Full Moon hike, swimming in the ocean, or sleeping under the stars.

4. Ask others to join you in sharing a practice. Creating a space for ritual is already powerful; when you share this space with others who are likeminded it becomes even more potent. Invite others to share their traditions. Ask the elders in your family about traditions and rituals that might have been lost.  Consider finding a teacherwho is trained intraditional puja or fire ceremonies to lead your group.

5. Commit to 40 consecutive days of meditation or mantra practice. The power of practice is cumulative. If you miss a day start again from day one.

6.Listen to and then act on any inspirations you receive. The divine is constantly pointing the way towards a fulfilled life in the form of inspiration. Our job is to act upon it as soon as it is received. Always keep a journal nearby.

Tracee Stanley is the creatrix of the Empowered Life Self-Inquiry Oracle. She teaches yoga, meditation and yoga nidra. Her offerings are informed by the teachings of Yogarupa Rod Stryker and the tradition of the Himalayan Masters. Find her at www.traceeyoga.com

Resources In Los Angeles:

Sivananda Yoga Center http://www.sivanandala.org/  seasonal events

Yogini Ashram   www.yoginiashram.com  online puja classes

Kali Mandir https://www.kalimandir.org  home puja course

Laura Amazonnehttps://www.lauraamazzone.com - online puja classes

Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions by Catherine Bell

This article originally appeared in @layogamagazine

About the Author: 

Tracee says:
I have been studying Yoga and Tantra since 1995. My introduction to yoga was through the practice of Kundalini Yoga where I was fortunate enough to practice with Yogi Bhajan on several of his visits to Yoga West in Los Angeles. Being in the presence of this great teacher gave me a glimpse into the true power of Yoga. Soon after I was introduced to the practice of Hatha yoga and became passionate about sharing how yoga had changed my life with anyone who would listen. At the time I was a high level executive in the film industry and my practice provided the balance, clarity and perspective that I needed to stay calm in the midst of chaos. After reading a translation of the Yoga Sutra's, I went on a quest for a teacher who could impart the deeper teachings and the promise of Yoga. It was then that I met my teacher Yogarupa Rod Stryker and was initiated into the lineage of Sri Vidya.

Since 2001 the focus of my teaching has been empowerment, sankalpa (intention), self-mastery and healing. The teachings are sourced from my many years of practice with Yogarupa, study with Gary Kraftsow and my personal journey and study. As a ParaYoga® Level I Certified Teacher and a Certified Four Desires Trainer I utilize the unique practices of the  ParaYoga® and the Himalayan traditions to guide students towards the door of awakening to their true nature, creating positive momentum and accelerating the trajectory towards fulfilling their destiny for an empowered life that is full of purpose and joy. I enjoy sharing the profound practices of Yoga Nidra, Meditation and Self-Inquiry informed by wisely sequenced asana, mantra and kriya practices to create a fertile environment and safe container for transformation and growth.

It is my greatest honor to be on the faculty of Esalen Institute and to teach at festivals like Wanderlust, Symbiosis, Lightning in a Bottle and Bali Spirit Festival. I love leading teacher trainings, retreats and holding space for you to remember your radiance and power!

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