Finding the Rite Way

Yanzi incenseWe watch with careful attention as the Master surrounds each student with incense smoke and recites in a magical tone, “enlightenment, purification, protection.” Knowing that we will each be individually responsible for performing this ritual correctly each day, we focus intently on his every movement to make sure we don’t miss a thing. Looking up at our eager faces with a smile, Daniel says, “this act and the incense is all bullshit, you know.” To calm our surprise and clarify, he adds “it’s all about the intention behind the action. Calling forth enlightenment, purification, and protection daily and by really meaning it, that’s what makes it a ritual. The call, the movement and the incense just helps to invest our whole attention to it. Ultimately it is not necessary at all.”

As we continue our qigong training, we learn repeatedly that for an exercise to be done correctly, one must engage and focus not only the whole body, but the mind as well. By doing this, we add intention to help focus the holistic being in a single direction. Doing an action repeatedly is a routine, but by doing an action with INTENTION repeatedly, it becomes a ritual. Our daily incense routine is a ritual in the guise of a ritual, but we are learning that even mundane routines become ritualized by fully engaging in the task. So, after morning meditation is finished, this is exactly what has happened with our breakfast routine, and we all couldn’t be more thrilled with the results!

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