I just read the most wonderful quote from Pema Chodron’s The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness:
Ritual, when it’s heartfelt, is like a time capsule. It’s as if thousands of years ago somebody had a clear, unobstructed view of magic, power, and sacredness, and realized that if he went out each morning and greeted the sun in a very stylized way, perhaps by doing a special chant and making offerings and perhaps by bowing, that it connected him to that richness. Therefore he taught his children to do that, and the children taught their children, and so on. So thousands of years later, people are still doing it and connecting with exactly the same feeling.
All the rituals that get handed down are like that. Someone can have an insight, and rather than its being lost, it can stay alive through ritual.
It reminded me of my friend Barbara Biziou, who has made the study and teaching of rituals her life. Through rituals Barbara has helped me to appreciate the small, everyday things that we tend to overlook and take for granted. Water, for example: It not only hydrates the body but is also used for cleansing. One of my favorite rituals is letting my morning shower cleanse my body and my mind. I ask that the water remove all my impurities, troubles, and aggravations, and I pay attention as they’re washed down the drain. There’s something about seeing it happen—seeing my worries go down the drain—that empowers me to begin my day with a clear head and heart.