Honoring Life Itself as a Ceremony and Spiritual Practice
An excerpt from A Ceremony Called Life
We weave in and out of ceremony throughout our entire lives. Between our very own births and deaths, we celebrate rites of passage, we lose loved ones, and perhaps we get married, birth our children, engage in personal rituals, attend support circles, or sit in indigenous ceremonies. No matter what sort of ceremonies we find ourselves in, once we are there, we sense we’re in the midst of some sort of tangible meaningfulness and at the feet of a mysterious invitation, and for that, our presence heightens, our hearts begin to open, and we’re more likely to recognize our role in creating our lives.
But then we weave out of these sacred moments when we mistakenly believe that all of life could ever be anything other than a procession of sacred moments, an inherently divine ceremony. We compartmentalize the spiritual nature of our lives, squashing it into one specific corner, rather than allowing it to course the waters of our whole lives, as it naturally does. We build spirit dams, and because of that, we become dry, tame, disjointed, and we do not feel whole. It is so easy to read self-help books, go to yoga class and workshops, and sing Om Shanti Om, but at the end of the day, until we realize all of life as the spiritual practice—we don’t feel the completion we crave. When we begin to see the altar is all around us—in the rocks, the magic of numbers, the miracle of other people, the sound of crunching leaves beneath our feet, our morning showers—all of life is again meaningful, and each moment carries within it the invitation home.
I was first confronted by the seeming deficiency of the sacred nature of my own life when I was working as a day-to-day manager in the music industry. Since I was a little girl, it had been a fantasy of mine to work directly with musicians, and living it out was a dream come true, until it wasn’t. At twenty-six, I realized the path I was going down had begun to cut me off from the spiritual nature of life. I tried to talk myself out of leaving for as long as I could, but eventually, the call of life was screaming through my soul and was impossible to ignore. It is time to follow your heart. It is time to get yourself in order and know and live your truth. So I followed the wild call of my being to a commune in Central America to see what would happen if I listened to that mysterious guidance one again. As crazy as it seemed to leave such a promising career and head to the jungle, with no plans and very little money, it was undeniably time to let go and dive into the unknown.
Allowing myself to listen to that magical call of life and trust it again, no matter how unreasonable or insane it sounded, proved to be the beginning of my return to the true nature we all share: that of a wise, intuitive, joyful free being; part God, part human, home to the true master that lives within; destined to create many good things. Indeed, since walking off the cliff of that secure life and into the free fall of following my energy wherever it takes me, of allowing life to be a meditation, I have remembered to appreciate each step of the journey as just as sacred as the next. I have remembered that every tear and challenge is just as meaningful, benevolent, and welcome as every gust of bliss and surge of joy. I have remembered that our presence and our accountability are the weavers of our best destiny.
I have also remembered that when we keep our attention inward with the stillness, remembering the life we experience to be a reflection of what we hold inside, and work with what we see in that mirror for our freedom, we are empowered, we open more, we move away from fear and into love, and we are able to do our best. And finally, I’ve been reminded again and again that our willingness to show up for it all without judgment—our willingness to keep our eyes and hearts open and our awareness sharp—is the current that keeps us harmonized and going wherever we are best off going, continuously delivering us to the sweetest, most fulfilling visions of our lives.
I invite you to remember how to wake up each morning— whether you’re happy or sad, whether you’re lonely or in the arms of your lover—knowing that you are in a unique ritual and gift of life, and how that, in and of itself, is profoundly and inherently miraculous. We have the opportunity to wake up not only through the profound and dazzlingly spectacular moments, but also through the mundane, the challenging, the seemingly meaningless or please-can’t-you-just-end-already moments that make up the expanse of our lives. Indeed, it’s about discovering the miraculous through the mundane, the Godself through the humanself, and the beauty that abounds when we stop denying our humanity and instead integrate the two.
May you come to see that all of life is a ceremony for your awakening, your expansion, your joy, and your love, when you are present to it. Something happens in your day—an emotional trigger, an argument, a boring lunch break, amazing sex, unexplainable tears, weirdness, a profound joy, laughter—and there begins a new moment in the ceremony. You are learning, you are expanding, you are appreciating, you are opening and contracting, only to open again into more to love. You are infinitely wiser from your connection to the teachings of the Guru of Life. And what is more worthy of awe, what is more worthwhile, what is more ridiculously and absurdly miraculous than that?