Rituals have largely been lost in the Western world, and the ones that remain are most commonly connected with birth and death, but there are many good reasons for us to use rituals within our daily lives. There’s quite a bit of neurological evidence regarding how we learn and store information that underpins the potential of ritual to help us implement life changes.
The intention of meditation or other “non-local” healing work is frequently to glean information from what may be labelled Source, God, the cosmic consciousness, the holofield, the Akashic records, or the inforealm, to use just a few of the labels that are attached to the energy field that is omniscient and omnipresent.
After we connect with this field, the information we need is installed at our mythical and energetic levels, but we need to install it at the physical and mental levels too, if change is really to be manifested in our lives. A ritual can be both the transmitting and anchoring method between the energetic and the physical, and the more any ritual resonates with the individual performing it, the more successful the anchoring will be.
The left and right brain hemispheres: differing functionalities
It has been known for many years that the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice versa, with the nerves crossing over in the medulla oblongata. Beyond that, there’s growing recognition, arising from neurological research, that the two sides of the brain actually have quite different functionalities. Dr. Iain McGilchrist’s highly acclaimed work, The Master and His Emissary, describes both the physiological and functional differences in great detail.
McGilchrist quotes from dozens of studies that together demonstrate left-brain dominance regarding local, narrowly focused attention, and right-brain dominance regarding broad, global and flexible attention. The right hemisphere continually attends to the peripheral field of vision and the learning of new information or skills. However, once these skills have become familiar, they shift to being the concern of the left hemisphere, which is more efficient in routine situations when things are predictable, but less efficient when assumptions have to be revised.
Meditation and “non-local” healing allow us to access the functionality of the right brain and connect with “the Other,” however we choose to label that. During this work in the inforealm, change is installed in the wide-ranging, empathic, emotional, non-verbal right brain, but then needs to be communicated to the narrowly focused, linear, logical, abstract, compartmentalized left brain. Ritual seems to be a powerful way of helping us connect the energetic and the physical, or, in other words, the right and left hemispheres.
It’s well known from modern neurobiology that we see what we believe, rather than believing what we see, due to the formation of neural attractor pathways. Rituals set the scene for changing our perceptual state, for stepping out beyond the attractors and into the world of infinite possibility—the world of the mythical.
When we want to achieve a brainwave state that will enable us to optimally ask for and receive information from the energy field, and then install it through ritual, it’s important that we create a safe, sacred space for our work.
Preparing for and engaging in ritual
Rituals take as long as they take—they don’t run on a timetable. We must take any amount of time that we need to set ourselves up for honouring nature, the ancestors, or whatever or whomever we will be working with during a ritual. Often, setting ourselves up will include making the space around us beautiful by using our creativity. It’s necessary that we collect the right tools, clothing, props and accessories.
When we engage fully with a ritual through our minds, bodies, clothing, and actions, we’re honouring something sacred and often ancient. This creates energy and intention that beams out of us and connects to the inforealm, resonating with all those who have performed the same ritual in the past, calling in the ancestors and the guides, calling for help. Our energetic transmissions need to be as strong as possible to achieve the maximum amount of resonance in the inforealm, and hence, maximize the power of our ritual.
Examples of helpful rituals
» Letting go of that which no longer serves us by focusing on it, then blowing it into a stone and giving it to Mother Earth, or blowing it into a stick and offering it to a fire. This represents an acknowledgement and then an intention of release, of not carrying a particular wound or burden anymore.
» Recognizing gifts and lessons received from people who may be leaving our lives in one way or another, or from events that have passed, and then releasing a certain person or event while retaining and integrating the gifts and lessons. This signifies acceptance of non-attachment, but is also a closure ritual that allows us to offer blessings rather than ill thoughts or psychic daggers.
» Acknowledging qualities that would assist us in our lives, or qualities of a lost part of the self that we are reintegrating, by bringing these qualities into the energy field through one of the chakras.
» Respecting the fate of others—leaving them their dignity and their choices. This may involve giving others back burdens that we’ve tried to carry on their behalf.
» Rituals that include and acknowledge people who’ve been excluded from their family systems (often, including people who have borne illegitimate children, who have committed suicide, who are mentally ill, or who have been perpetrators).
» Fire ceremonies: We can offer things to the fire for closure, we can take things from the fire in renewal, and we can feed our energies from the fire. We can even use fire to connect across space and time. This latter phenomenon is why shamans and healers around the world, even today, hold global vigil fire ceremonies, during which fires are lit and tended across the world simultaneously, usually for a minimum of 48 hours and perhaps for as long as a week. With these, we create a strong signal with our intentions or prayers for change and healing, acknowledging that these can be picked up where they are needed as they create a cosmic, resonating, coherent wave.