When I speak of "Ritual" I want to be clear that I am not thinking of a bunch of people walking around in bath robes carrying candles. Or stone rooms filled with smoke, and evil eyes peering out of dark corners.
When I talk about something being "Ritual" I mean, very clearly, that one is doing something with clear intent, and a full presence in the moment, and then continuing that sort of practice and mindfulness. I don't want to confuse this with meditation, as I wrote about previously. Though the concept that I am talking about is similar in very many ways. In point of fact, I think that they are parallel ideas.
If you recall my meditation writing, you will see that I talk about being FULLY present in the moment, and taking the time to clear your mind of everything else, even in the midst of chaos and the pressures of living a modern life.
The importance of ritual is significant in many ways in our culture. Large events in our lives are deeply steeped in the idea that things should be a VERY certain way. The "White Wedding" is the largest one in our culture. But think over to yourself, and your daily life, because even that is steeped in much smaller rituals. Your drive into work is a ritual. You take the same road to work EVERY day - you don't think about it, you just do it, because that is just the way you go. If you take a different route, it just feels strange. The same with bucking larger rituals. There is a reason behind this.
Ritual is comfortable.
We find comfort in the familiar way that something happens, or the way we eel when listening to a familiar piece of music, or that hot cup of soup on a cold day when you are feeling particularly crummy.
Ritual ideas are comfortable and easy, and they don't require thought.
Now, let's circle back to our morning meditation while we have a cuppa.
Have you been meditating while making your tea?
Have you started doing it every morning?
Have you found yourself just becoming mentally silent while you make your tea in the morning? How about while making tea throughout the rest of the day? Because THAT is the point, in the end.
Meditative action begets ritual action, which in turn begets further meditative action.
What I mean by this is that, as you make your cup in the morning, and just clear your head of all of the nonsense rolling about inside of it, you will start to carry that mental clearing-out over to EVERY time you make your cup of tea. Soon enough your 6 AM tea and mental break will also become your 9 AM tea and mental break too. At some point your Tea will become your Clarity of Mind.
It's actually pretty cool how that happens. At some point the tea becomes the meditation. And the meditation becomes the ritual. And we take comfort in the ritual, ergo we take comfort in the tea. It's circular, for sure, but I don' think that is a bad thing. Especially when that circle includes tea.
How about a different view on this!
When I am feeling sick, I take time and have a cup of spiced tea with honey and lemon. That provides a very high degree of physical comfort, as well as it takes a moment to drag me out of my misery of being sick, and into a place of emotional comfort, because the ritual, the habit, of making that cup of tea, is associated in my life with the eventual improvement of my health.
I want you, dear reader, to take a moment and think on your cup of tea, and look at it as not only your delicious and hot moment of personal reflection, but also as your gateway to future moments where you can find comfort and peace in our amazingly fast paced world.