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Jon Robertson

Find Your Real Self with Bedtime Rituals
by Jon Robertson

Our most life-changing experiences take place in the bedroom. Many of us are born there. We cry there, make love there, pray there, and some even die there. The bedroom is home to our prayers and dreams, our solitude and sexuality. In this inner sanctum, where secrets and spirituality merge, we shed the masks we wear in our public lives and every night become whole again.

The Sacred Bedroom

Stop and think of the bedroom’s awesome power. Whatever occurs during a busy day, we ultimately return to the bedroom after we leave in the morning. This quiet curtained chamber, with its bed, dressers, and closets, is where we release a breath at day’s end, change into soft clothes, or go completely naked without a care. For many of us, the bedroom is our stress-free zone of solitude and relaxation.

We share our love in the bedroom and create life itself there with our bodies and our hearts. So intimate, private, and personal is the bedroom, it is the perfect place to reconnect with your soul through personal rituals and celebrations that you can create yourself.

There is a link between what we do in this mystical, powerful space and the harmony or disharmony in our lives. If we rediscover the bedroom through its hidden symbolism, we can begin to heal much of our confusion about life, love, and personal identity. Discovering the potential of the sacred in our bedrooms can help us in every other aspect of our lives.

To use your bedroom for personal rituals and celebrations, begin by arranging the room simply, using the principles of feng shui, if you wish. Next, bring into the room symbols for what you hold sacred: emblems of your spirituality, religious images, figures, or Scriptures that you hold dear. Find a dresser top or small table on which to display them, and let this be your altar — a special setting for your sacred objects.

With your sacred objects displayed, next create new daily habits for practicing a more sacred life through ritual. Rituals help us fully live what we believe in our hearts by creating the outward evidence for what we think. Without the visible demonstration, there is only the idea, however noble it may be. Like enthusiasm, ideas can fade in time, but the use of ritual can keep the spirit of the idea fresh in our minds. In simple terms, a ritual is a prescribed ceremony repeated for a specific intention, using meaningful words, actions, and objects that symbolize concepts, teachings, or events.

Rituals are part of our daily lives whether we realize it or not, and not all of them are religious. We practice rituals getting ready for work in the morning, preparing for a date, or before stepping up to the plate during a baseball game. Many of us practice rituals before going to bed at night. Using rituals in our lives makes us feel good. They connect life in the outer world to the testing ground of meaning in the heart. Rituals and ceremonies, in fact, help us become better acquainted with our authentic self, the spiritual self that returns when we practice them. They add the practice to what we preach.

The best bedroom ceremonies are the ones you create yourself for your particular needs and situation. They need not follow strict rules but can follow some general guidelines. Above all, they should be meaningful to you. Your bedroom rituals can be simple or elaborate, and you may personalize them with any of the following traditions:

  • Wear a piece of clothing that has some meaningful color or design. (This can be as simple as a scarf or neckpiece, a special shirt, or robe.)
  • Sit before your altar during your ritual. (This symbolizes presenting yourself to the Highest Power. Sit in a chair, or on the floor in the yogic lotus position or on a sturdy pillow made for meditation.)
  • Say a few words to declare a ritual’s purpose, such as, "We join together in this ritual to consecrate our sacred bedroom." Use any prayer, affirmation, or blessing that has special meaning for you.
  • Light a candle. (Light symbolizes consciousness, understanding, and awareness.)
  • Ring a bell. (The pure tone of a bell clears the mental and emotional space and attunes you to the frequency of higher consciousness.)
  • Take three slow deep breaths (Breath makes you one with the rhythm of the universe. Breath breathes Spirit in, discord out.)
  • Meditate. (A moment of meditation before your ritual helps you focus on the intended purpose of the ritual.)

Be creative in designing your rituals and be aware of purpose. Here is a ritual that partners can use in the privacy of the bedroom:

Honoring Each Other: Couples can create quality time together by periodically formalizing their respect for one another through ritual. There is no better place to do this than in the bedroom — the single most powerful symbol of your partnership. In such a ritual, couples can write into the service as many elements of their relationship that they wish.

For this ritual, be seated in front of the altar and face each other. Raise your hands and place your palms together. Look into each other’s eyes. Ring the bell after each statement is read or recited.

Together: "I sit before the throne of I AM THAT I AM to honor the divine Image within my partner and myself."

Place your hands on your knees or fold them on your lap. You may read a passage from scripture, a vow, or a prayer of gratitude. It may be a statement of conviction about your relationship in the future, or a restating of your marriage vows. You may express gratitude for an accomplishment or some milestone reached. Use this model for an honoring ceremony of your own design:

Partner #1: "I honor you, [name], for the divine image within you and in the name of true love by which I care for you."

Partner #2: "I honor you, [name], for the divine image within you and in the name of true love by which I care for you."

Now, meditate for a moment more on the meaning of these statements and then both of you read or recite:

Together: "We commit our love, time, energy, and resources to the success of our relationship, in accomplishing our mutual goals, keeping our household holy, and our bedroom sacred, for the greater outpouring of love to all every day."

As your personal refuge within the house, you can use the sacred bedroom to experiment with rituals that can help deepen your spiritual practice, explore the masculine and feminine energies within you, or simply add a sacred dimension to romance. With the right attitude, you can keep yourself in the light of spiritual awareness in the bedroom: and then use what you practice there to thrive in modern life.

The following ideas for rituals and celebrations can be used by anyone, with or without a partner. They can help you deepen the connection to your soul in a sacred bedroom environment.

Schedule regular rituals in which you honor the Divine within you. If you share your bedroom with a partner, you can modify the rituals to include that partner by sharing the activities and prayers. For example, let one partner light the candles and ring the bell while the other reads the prayers or favorite passages. You may also read prayers in unison. Then take turns leading the rituals.

Entering the Bedroom: Adopt a simple ritual for entering or leaving the bedroom in order to formalize your higher purpose for entering there. Place some small sacred symbol on the door or doorframe — Jews use mezuzahs, which contain prayers from the Bible — and make a habit of touching it to remind you of the sacred setting you have created in your bedroom. In that moment, recite a simple prayer such as:

"I enter this sanctuary for healing and peace. I shall bring no disharmony here."

Consecration of Objects: Each time you add a new object to the altar or elsewhere in the bedroom, celebrate and consecrate that item. For example, when you purchase new linens, why not light a candle and claim them as part of your experience in the bedroom?

I consecrate this [linen, candle, etc.] to be part of the sacred purpose of my bedroom.

Adapt the affirmation above for use with all new objects, such as art, photographs, statuary, anything at all that brings honor to the sacred bedroom.

Meditation: Meditation and prayer are the "please and thank you" of our communication with the Creative Force, and there is no more ideal setting than the bedroom. Prayer is asking and offering, while meditation is listening for the answers. Meditation helps you discover a quiet space within you that you can cultivate with practice and visit whenever you need to truly rest your mind, recharge your energy, or touch base with your genuine self. From that stillpoint within your consciousness, you can more wisely judge what is going on around you and what to do about it. At the close of meditation, express your gratitude for this time and place apart from the hassles of the world with another affirmation or expression of how you feel. Officially close your meditation session by ringing the bell and extinguishing the candle.

With practice, the peaceful center you achieve during meditation can accompany you throughout the day, or, at least, stay within reach with brief meditations during the day. While you are at work, take time in your office, outside, or even in the washroom, if necessary, to keep "in touch" with your authentic self, the one you practice in the bedroom. If possible, keep some small reminder of what you hold sacred on your desk or near your workspace. Remember that regular meditation can reduce stress and its effects on your mind and body.

Prayer: People pray in many different ways the world over. Unless your beliefs specify some singular practice, you can explore these rich traditions of prayer. The idea is to find for yourself a practice that keeps the spirit of prayer fresh and genuine. The simplest act of prayer, if it constitutes repetition of words or is framed within a set of customs, is already ritualized. You can establish a prayer ritual for yourself that is brief or lengthy, depending upon your purpose. You can repeat prewritten prayers, as is done in the Catholic rosary, Buddhist chanting, and many other religions. However, remember to include a moment in which you talk to God the way you would talk to a trusted friend — just use words that express what is in your heart.

Going to Sleep: One thinks of the holy life lived by monks and how they are taught to live each moment of their lives prayerfully. Of course, most of us do not live in an environment conducive to such concentrated dedication. However, we can mark certain touchstones during the day for little practices that remind us of our innate divine origin and selfhood. In this way, we can keep closer to the image of God within us. Bedtime is one of those touchstones. It is an excellent opportunity to ritually end your day and ease your transition into sleep.

A number of well-known prayers for going to sleep have comforted children for centuries. As adults, we are assured that our souls will indeed keep until morning. Bedtime is an excellent time to commemorate gratitude for the completion of the day.

Upon Waking: Our mornings are filled with rituals from throwing open the curtains to brushing your teeth. We do not consciously attribute higher meaning to these rituals, but they serve to orient us from the realm of sleep to the beginning of our day out there in the world. Instituting even a brief intentional ritual in the morning, however, helps start the day according to the principles you hold dear.

Before you dress in the morning, sit before your altar, light a candle, and intone the bell. As the sound diminishes, bow to the Source of All, vibrating in your heart as in the heart of the universe, and dedicate your day as follows:

"This day I seek the door of Wisdom, so I may make choices that benefit the good of all."

Now begin your day, fresh from the sacred chamber of your bedroom, your very destination when day is done.

Bedtime Stories. Many people have used reading to relax before sleep. In this ritual, make it a point to read aloud before you go to sleep. Partners may alternate on different nights or during each session. Read some uplifting or inspiring passage or poem. If you are without a partner, read aloud to yourself with flair and meaning.

*  *  *

The more you use your bedroom space for spiritual practice, the benefits begin to mount. You become an active participant in the spiritual universe, draw closer to the divine within you, and truly be in touch with the Creator every night and morning. You can discover the Divine within you by practicing these rituals and celebrations in your personal sanctuary — your bedroom.

This article is adapted from The Sacred Bedroom by Jon Robertson and used by permission © 2001, New World Library, Novato, California, www.newworldlibrary.com.

The Sacred Kitchen

Jon Robertson is a writer, editor, journalist, and speaker who has spent a lifetime studying religion, philosophy, and Eastern thought. He is author of The Sacred Bedroom, co-author of The Sacred Kitchen, and author of The Golden Thread of Oneness.



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