"Grief has a quality of
healing in it that is very deep
because we are forced to a depth of emotion that is
usually below the threshold of our awareness."
9/11--and, in fact, every crisis humankind
confronts--teaches us that healing in the face of lifeís
challenges is not a luxury but a necessity. Healing
rituals are the universal lifelines that offer us
deliverance from fears, real and imagined; they
resurrect us from the heart of despair and return us to
How can we find positive sustainable comforts in our
age of anxiety? A comfort that connects us to the
Divine, regardless of our religion or spiritual
tradition? In my work, ritual is the key that turns the
lock and opens the mind and heart and shifts us from
unconsciousness back into consciousness.
Today we are dealing with healing from natural
disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, floods,
wildfires, droughts), mass violent victimization (riots,
terrorist bombings, biological terrorism) as well
illness and disease. The challenge is daunting.
Healing from 9/11
Healing from disasters, especially those like 9/11
and Oklahoma City, require their own unique rituals.
Since our basic assumptions about humanity; that the
world is safe; that danger can be kept out and the loss
of illusion of invulnerability have been shattered, many
people need to redefine their relationship with Spirit,
their friends and family and their community. In New
York City I have found a real need to talk about events
and feelings associated with 9/11. This need has not
gone away and our healing rituals allow space for this
expression. It is important to remember that healing can
take many years--one to 5 is typical from a major
disaster, although it can be longer. Therefore, the
rituals we choose will change and evolve over time
Connecting to Community:
There is also a great need to feel one is a part of
the community and its recovery efforts. Many of the
altars expressing concern and prayers for the firemen,
policemen, victims and their families still remain
today. These altars were, and still are, rituals of
comfort and connection.
When an event is as far-reaching as 9/11 there is a
need to mourn collectively as well as personally.
Millions of people were impacted around the world and
spontaneous prayer vigils (many multi-cultural), altars
and support groups have sprung out of our human need to
be a part of something larger than ourselves.
Rituals of Silence
A moment of silence to reflect, become aware of
feelings and to send prayers is a powerful healing.
Rituals of Remberance
Getting together to tell stories of the people we
lost allows their memory to live on. Bring pictures and
stories to share.
Keep a Journal
Writing in a journal is a way to experience your
thoughts and feelings as they arise. It is like having a
best friend to confide in. It can be a release of
anxiety and a solace in aloneness.
Rituals of Release
In a Safe Place, try the following
- Write down your feelings on a piece of paper and
burn it. Make sure you burn the paper in a fireplace
or fire-proof bowl.
- Pound a pillow
- Have a temper tantrum
- Hit a punching bag
- Release your sorrow to a fast moving stream
(symbolically place sand, stones or dirt into the water
to express your pain)
"During times of anxiety we must take very good
care of ourselves. This is a time when we are most at
risk for accidents, illness, or misusing substance that
we hope will help us control the feelings."
--Anne Brener, Mourning and Mitzvah
Create Nurturing Rituals
Find ways to nurture your body and spirit that are
healthy and will sustain you. Get massages, take long
baths, exercise, eat nutritious food.
Healing the Body: Mind-Body Healing
The amazing power of the mind-body connection has
been recognized in many cultures throughout the ages and
more recently, confirmed by modern medical research.
Practitioners and patients alike know that by opening
your heart, calming your mind, and directing your
thoughts toward positive outcomes, you encourage your
body to activate its natural healing mechanism.
Multi-Cultural Healing Rituals
Over time, healing rituals have taken on diverse
forms. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks poured water over
sacred statues and then collected it in small urns to be
sipped by the afflicted. In parts of Greece, Asia and
Africa, people still leave pictures, metal
reproductions, or carvings of diseased parts of their
bodies in temples and churches, hoping that prayers of
the faithful will cure them. Millions of pilgrims visit
Lourdes, Fatima, and other Christian shrines every year,
seeking healing in return for their belief.
Cultures around the world utilize the power of
collective energy for healing rituals. Ruins of healing
temples have been excavated in Greece, Turkey, and
Egypt. Native American shamans still employ sand
painting in elaborate healing practices, using powdered
sandstone of different colors to paint sacred patterns
that attract healing spirits. The patient sits on the
painting while a chanting shaman invites the relevant
forces to enter the painting and cure the patient. In
the end, the sand, which has absorbed all the negative
forces, is thrown away.
In a similar fashion, I attended a Healing Prayer
Mandala ceremony, by the Buddhist Monks, sent by the
Dalai Lama to NY and Washington DC. For days, they
prayed and chanted as they created a vast sand mandala.
On the last day they destroyed the work as a symbol of
the impermanence of all beings and ceremonially brought
the sand to the Hudson River where it was released to
The Power of Positive Thoughts
The more often you send positive mental messages to
your brain, the more your physical body will respond and
facilitate your healing. Sometimes healing occurs
instantaneously; other times it is a gradual process. In
some cases, it is the spirit--not the body--that is
Sometimes we inherit a tendency toward a certain
disease and sometimes our lifestyles threaten our
health. In any case, be gentle with yourself. Donít
blame yourself or feel guilty about being sick. It is a
waste of precious energy. Use this energy to connect to
Spirit and create healing rituals that can support our
psychological and physical determination to heal.
Dealing With Serious Medical Procedures
When we are ill and/or going through a serious
medical procedure, we experience understandable anxiety
about the unknown: going into the hospital, the cold,
sterile environment, the alien practices and routines,
the outcome of treatment, the side effects of
medications. During the treatment, our anxiety
increase--we usually lack control over our body and whatís
being done to it. Weíre overwhelmed and usually
Healing rituals allow you to become an active
participant in your own healing process. Immediately you
boost your immune system and activate your bodyís own
natural healing abilities. Studies show that people who
use imagery and music during surgery lower their heart
rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. The same holds
true for radiation or chemotherapy treatments--common
stress-filled experiences for most people
Create a Healing Stick
Gather together some close friends and family. Ask
each person to symbolically place a blessing for you on
a bead, a stone or some other small object. Allison may
want to imbue the objects with her sense of humor, while
Jason blesses his crystal with courage and patience.
Attach the objects to a piece of string, colored yarn or
leather thong. Then tie these pieces onto a stick in any
pattern that pleases you. The stick should be 6-12
inches in length.
You have created a healing stick. Bless your friends
and their virtues, which now reside in your stick.
Drawing on these strengths, tell your body to relax and
to work with, not fight against, the treatment. Imagine
strength coming to you from this sacred object.
Many patients I have worked with take these
"healing sticks" to the hospital and to doctorís
visits. Some keep them by their bed or in their purse. Iíve
found that most doctors and nurses support any means to
make their patients more positive and even allow these
healing sticks into the operating room.
Music has the power to transform
Music helps create or alter a mood, touching your
physical, emotional, and spiritual being. Certain
rhythms emulate a heartbeat and their repetition can
help adults and children feel more balanced. Don
Campbell, author of the Mozart Effect,
documents the fact that music can slow down and equalize
brain waves and can generate a sense of safety and well
Try listening to Prayer--A Multi-Cultural Journey
of Spirit, Deva Premalís The Essence
(chants from around the world) or Healing by
Anugama. Create your own healing music by finding sounds
that soothe your spirit.
These are some of my favorite essences to use in
Cinnamon-uplifting -boosts the immune system
Cypress: comfort (especially for the loss of a
Juniper: health, vitality
Lavender: calming, helps access grief
Lemon, lime, orange, vanilla- uplifting- good for
Melissa-balance emotional blocks
Neroli: stabilizes the nervous system
Rose-balance and harmony-opens the heart
Sandalwood: relieves anxiety and depression
Donít underestimate the power of collective prayer.
Set a time each day or once a week to get together with
a group to pray for healing for individuals and for the
world. "Feel" the emotion of peace and healing
spreading out throughout the globe.
When doing a healing for another person, it is
advisable to have their permission. If you donít know
if they want others to pray for them, you can simply set
the intention to make this healing available if they
choose to receive it.
and adoration of the "Lightí compels illumination
to take place in the mind--health, strength, and order
to come into the body--and peace, harmony, and success
to manifest in the affairs of every individual who will
really do it, and seeks to maintain it."
--Godfre Ray King, Unveiled Mysteries
Barbara Biziou. All Rights Reserved.
Barbara Biziou, America's foremost ritual expert, teaches us how to restore
ritual to its rightful place as food for the soul. Through practical, easy to
use ritual recipes that are powerful and inspiring, Barbara teaches people
how to effect remarkable changes in their lives. Since 1981 she has traveled
the globe, showing individuals and companies how to incorporate spirituality
into their hectic lifestyles. Whether you're releasing fear, creating a new
career, bringing deeper meaning to a family or community gathering, or
celebrating life's passages, her books, The Joys of Everyday
Ritual and The
Joy of Family Rituals, are like wise best friends that can reconnect you to
your heart and soul. Website: www.joyofritual.com.
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