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Vision 2011: Cultivating Presence and Connectedness Through Ritual

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Every weekday around 6 p.m., I enter my front door to find my three-year-old, absolutely adorable Cavalier-Poodle ready to greet me, never any less excited than the day before. I swoop her into my arms, we turn on the first slightly upbeat radio station we can find, and we dance. We dance like we're at the best, most happening wedding we've ever been to. We rock out. I release the pupster to our kitchen floor so we can be free to do our best dance moves. Her little feet tap, tap, tap-dance on the kitchen tiles. She wags her bottom and dances in circles, throwing in a few jumps here and there. I do my best Tom Cruise slide in my socks across the kitchen floor, then swing my arms and hair all around. She wags her tail in approval. It's that time of day, the best time of day. It's our ritual. We're releasing the old of the long workday, and dancing for the dinnertime gods. Albeit, dancing to Katy Perry rather than my tribal belly dance music. Still, we're pretty sure the ritual is working because by 6:08, the pupster and I feel amazing.

After spending a weekend with Barbara Biziou at her annual Vision workshop, I realize we all have our own rituals that bring us joy and comfort, and that it's important that we don't take them for granted. At Biziou's Vision 2011, everyone from hedge fund managers, to teachers, to psychologists shared their simple and not-so-simple rituals. It was clear that all of us desired a deeper connection to our life's purpose and greater prosperity. Biziou led her Vision guests through a process of uncovering true desires and imagined obstacles. From there, her guests spread across the room to make vision boards with creativity flowing. Biziou has led this vision board ritual for 15 years.

Now think -- How do you connect to yourself amidst life and work? What do you think about when you brush your teeth? What do your morning coffee and newspaper do for you? Chances are you already engage in some kind of ritual each day. How do you feel if you skip your personal, much-needed moment of peace?

At Vision 2011 people from all walks of business had a shared intention: to release the old and call in the new. Biziou is sometimes asked if she is a witch, or if her rituals are some kind of "hocus pocus." Both ideas make the energy of her smile and voice just beam with sweetness and wholeness. I believe she knows that she can make just about anyone love and understand ritual. As she says in her book,"The Joy of Ritual," "[T]o some, the word ritual evokes a vision of frenzied, naked savages beating tom-toms as they dance around a blazing fire..." There were no naked savages at Vision 2011, and only a slightly blazing fire.

Each guest wrote down a list of things they would like to see changed in the coming year. After a group meditation, with the intention of cleansing, we tossed our lists into a pot of fire. There is a part of our psyche that doesn't know the difference between real and imagined. Rituals can have a great power over our minds, allowing a seemingly simple act to give us a feeling of letting go. By destroying a symbol of limiting negativity, we open our minds to possibility. Mmmmm, possibility. The word itself is just so juicy. I have to say it again. Mmmmm, possibility. Delicious.

Rituals connect us to a higher consciousness. They help us to check in with ourselves. Biziou says that although we all have rituals such as morning coffee, holiday traditions or Sunday family dinners, it's important to acknowledge these things as rituals rather than obligations. In Biziou's book, "The Joy of Family Rituals," she explains how children and their parents can begin to "regard even the mundane -- a bath or family dinner -- as sacred moments of connection and togetherness." A bath can symbolize washing away negativity or anxiety and beginning fresh and new. Celebrations around food have occurred since ancient times. Parents can explain to children why people might take a moment of gratitude before dinner. Rituals become something to look forward to, a source of peace and connectedness. Rituals help us to feel connection to our own spirit and the spirits of our family members, but also to the knowledge of our ancestors. Rituals have existed since ancient times. Making ritual a part of our daily lives also gives us perspective on our place in the scheme of the universe.

Ritual Suggestions from Barbara Biziou

1) Clearing Out the Old, Welcoming the New

In Tarot, 2011 is the Year of the Emperor. It's about foundation and leadership. Begin by creating stronger foundations in your own life, and taking leadership of your own possibilities.

It's very important to make sure that we open up space so the new energy can come in for 2011. Clear out clutter. Take time to write down any negative thoughts or things you want to change. Write without censoring yourself. Reflect on it. Sit quietly and think about what energy you would like to bring in. Rip up the paper and throw it away. Then, to purify, Biziou suggests taking a bath with white rose petals and sea salt. Be very conscious of setting clear intentions for this next stage. It's important to remain in a state of gratitude during this time.

2) Create Your Own Ritual, or Bring Back an Old Ritual

Rituals have five key elements that work together to create what Biziou calls a "ritual recipe."

  1. Intention -- This is the ritual's purpose. Perhaps at breakfast you can set goals for the day. At a birthday party, your intention may be to review the past year and envision what you want for the year to come. You can write a letter to yourself, then instruct, "Do not open this until next year." Be sure that your intention is based in purity and sincerity. What do you really want.
  2. Sequence -- Every ritual should have a clear beginning and a clear ending. Many of Biziou's rituals begin with lighting a candle, and end with a quiet moment of reflection to acknowledge the experience with gratitude.
  3. Sacred Space -- Rituals create a change in consciousness; therefore, it is important that they take place apart from ordinary life. Transform your everyday surroundings into ritual space by simply clearing an area and lighting a candle, decorating a small space for yourself, or safely lighting a fire.
  4. Ingredients -- Rituals can include candles, colors, scents, food, music, cherished objects, and crystals. Be creative and incorporate things that speak to your intention.
  5. Personal Meaning -- Make sure that the rituals you do are inspiring and comforting to you.

Tomorrow, as stretch yourself out of bed to face the new day, take a moment to embrace the new day. How can you make the little rituals you do each day just a little more powerful? A bit more meaningful? Honor your big and little rituals with intention, and you will find yourself deeply present and open to possibility. Mmmm, there it is again... possibility.

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