refurbished rituals in a time of change

Charles Massy, Australian author and practitioner of regenerative agriculture, describes the need to shift from ‘mechanical mind’ to ’emergent mind’.

It’s a time of massive change. I heard Terry Real, US relationship therapist, talk about it as the last throes of patriarchy – the model that has prized dominion over collaboration, assertion rather than dialogue, the individual rather than the collective.

These descriptions suggest the urgent need to move beyond exclusive reliance on masculine, literal, mechanical and intellectual models towards embracing and prioritising intuitive, feminine, future-focused and responsive ways of being in the world.

Habits, even helpful ones may need changing. My partner and I have a habit I’ve described in an earlier post, a way of attuning ourselves to serendipity and receptivity on a daily basis. We had found it useful for a couple of years but over the past few weeks, we began to hanker to make the ritual even more active and relevant to our lives.

Instead of the three cards expressing inner qualities that we chose and then defined according to our current context, we now choose just one card each. We’ve moved beyond definition, to reflect on how the quality we’ve chosen fits in our lives. What needs to change within us to express it more clearly and cleanly? How are we challenged to express it? How does the second quality relate?

Today I chose flexibility and he chose commitment.

I love flexibility. Response to new demands has always felt easy for me. What struck me today was the way that going beyond flexibility can lead to losing my shape. I feel ‘floppy’ rather than supple. I thought of the way I had recently agreed to a (needless to say Zoom) meeting which I didn’t want to attend, because I felt my loyalty to the group more strongly than my own needs.

My capacity for flexibility needs to be both sufficiently open and bounded or grounded. Without that groundedness, I can ignore my intuitions and go along with something that isn’t true to my values or needs.

Commitment anchors flexibility. Commitment to my values and sense of what’s needed. It gives me roots from which I can move in a comfortable circumference, like a plant in the wind. Strong winds and severe weather can blow a shallow-rooted tree to the ground. In a subtle and intricate dance, flexibility requires commitment to purpose and not just unlimited openness.

A second part of our shared daily practice now includes a deeper and more explicit self-reflection based on the work of contemporary researcher and alchemist, Dennis Klocek. It takes just three steps and ten or fifteen minutes:

  • Firstly, reflect on what would you like to do better in your life. Alternatively, ask the question how did your life come to be this way. Ponder this with openness and objectivity.
  • Next, spend a few minutes visualising yourself enacting or embodying whatever it is that you would like to do better in your life, or what is asking for change after the first step.
  • Finally, listen into the wide spaces of the universe. Is there anything you could be grateful for? Take some time and see what comes.

These practices are conducted in a spirit of playfulness and without attachment to outcome.

For me today, the question of celebration came up. How do I acknowledge with appreciation what has arisen in my life? My reluctance to celebrate seems to come out of a need to hide my true self, something which may have a source I need to investigate. My visualisation is a creative and idiosyncratic ritual for an achievement in my life I haven’t celebrated. I imagine how it could happen, what I would do or say, what I would wear.

Gratitude today arose for our shared practices of reflection, these morning sessions where we keep teasing out the areas of stuckness in our lives, knowing this is an ongoing journey. There’s always more to learn.

When practiced regularly, check-in rituals like these become an unthreatening way of learning about who we are, where our life is guiding us, and what we haven’t seen before. They keep us connected to the source of all creativity.

As human beings, one of the mysterious truths is that we are infinitely capable of creativity, transformation and learning. Throughout our lives.

We can create habits and rituals to suit our particular needs. And we can refresh them in the changing seasons of our lives.

Each of us can be part of the great global movement of change-makers seeking to embody greater wisdom and responsiveness in the world.

If you want to explore learning and transformative technologies in-depth you can sign up for the Presencing Institute’s annual mooc, u.lab 1x. It’s now open and the first live session is on 24 September. More information here. I’m also offering video call sessions of generative coaching with people who long to explore areas of stuckness with creativity and courage.

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