“Rituals set apart a time and place to celebrate our right to profound, cathartic emotion, emotion that is hard to express in the dynamics of daily living. Feeling these emotions allows us to let go and move on.”
– Ingrid Bacci, Ph.D., The Art of Effortless Living (2000)
A ritual is typically an act of honor or reverence that is observed or performed on a regular basis. Rituals often define the customs and traditions of cultures, religions, and belief systems. However, a ritual can be something as simple as a routine that one follows on a regular basis. The repetitive, care-free nature of rituals can be very healing as they provide an opportunity for effortlessness, and even enable you to surrender to a higher power or act. The term “ritual” sometimes has a negative connotation; this is unfortunate since most rituals send positive energy, thoughts, and actions into the universe.
Many rituals are practiced in order to attain spiritual enlightenment and improved health. The following are some examples of healing traditions that lift the spirit:
Prayer – a simple daily prayer of reverence or gratitude can work wonders. More than 1,600 studies have demonstrated that religious practices can greatly enhance health.
Meditation – meditations are best performed on a regular basis so they become routine.
Tea Ceremony – tea is a healing drink on its own, but making your cup of tea into a moment of peace and appreciation enhances its benefits. Consider these words from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: “You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea. Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup. Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, and appreciate the delicacy. If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea. You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.”
Burning Incense – the basic act of burning incense brings in the healing elements of aromatherapy, and is a tradition that has been practiced for centuries.
Ritual has been a particularly powerful component of Shamanism. Most Shamanic rituals aim to honor and invoke the spirit of the natural world. The following are some examples:
Full Moon Release – Meditation – a full moon signifies completion and is an ideal time for letting go of things that you no longer need.
New Moon Creation – the new moon is said to represent a time of rebirth and growth, and an ideal time to create something new.
Dancing / Chanting – dancing, singing and chanting are prevalent in many cultures. Shamans often use these tools to move the spirit and universal energies in a positive direction.
Smudging – Burning sage is often done in a ritual known as smudging. This act is said to drive away negative spirits and energies.
Water Ceremonies are a beautiful way to honor and celebrate the healing waters of the earth. Water is our most vital life resource and by taking a few moments to let go of what is bothering us, releasing it to the waters and also give thanks for all the blessings and abundance in our lives we can find a place of inner peace and serenity.
This can be a very simple ceremony in which we fill a bowl of water and light a candle, taking a moment to reflect on the power, beauty and life giving qualities of water. We may want to tune in closely to the fact that much of our bodies are made up of water, just as the earth is covered in water.
Fire Ceremony – The Powerful Action of Energy Healing Ritual
By Lahra Tatriele, Co-founder of Fivelements
At Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa, healing is inspired by the Balinese way of life, which encourages us to nurture a greater harmony with spirit, the environment and with one another. Similarly, our holistic approach is designed to tune in to the physical, emotional and spiritual levels, allowing an organic healing process to naturally unfold. We collaborate with our guests to activate, facilitate and nurture a new healing path, and this begins by honouring our highest potential.
Fivelements embraces holistic Balinese-inspired therapies administered by traditional Balinese healers using ancient wisdoms passed down from direct lineage. Following the Balinese principle of Sekala-Niskala, which holds that we all live equally in two worlds; the seen or conscious world Sekala, and the unseen or psychic world Niskala, the Balinese healers engage the help of the higher divine source during each healing session.
Healing rituals include a combination of meditation, deep bodywork and prana energy performed by healers whose gifted talents have been handed down through generations of Balinese families. Energy Healing introduces the powerful Panca Mahabhuta (The Five Elements) in which healer Pak Wayan works to balance the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether within the body.
Chakra Balancing sessions are for activating and balancing the body’s seven energy centres, while in Prana Healing, healer Pak Dewa will scan and clear the aura of imbalances.
Massage therapies include Holistic Massage with Prana combination, Deep Healing Reflexology, Acupressure, Invigorating Bodywork and Muscle Release, all of which synchronise intuitive body and energy work to identify, balance and heal.
I Nyoman Sudanta, the High Priest at Fivelements, plays a vital role in each guests’ stay – one of the most memorable experiences at Fivelements is the fire ceremony, or Agni Hotra. This initiation into the healing space that is Fivelements, this opportunity to experience one of the highest Vedic rituals, and to set your intention for your stay, is incredibly powerful and healing, and you’ll find it resonates in your memory throughout your retreat.
In Sanskrit, Agni means ‘fire’ and Hotra means ‘healing’, and the practice is currently undergoing a renaissance.
Throughout the ceremony, I Nyoman Sudanta performs symbolic actions and mesmerizing recitations of Sanskrit mantras. Offerings of ghee and rice, to invoke health and abundance, are thrown into the fire by guests as well as the priest. Add the enthralling qualities of the fire and your internal intention, and the experience can deliver a profound spiritual healing. You may uncover a guiding life direction or intention.
Born in Penarukan Singaraja in the north of Bali 64 years ago, I Nyoman Sudanta is a high priest, Pandita Agni in Balinese. Descended from a family of priests after his father and grandfather, he started his spiritual career in 2003 following a strong and life-changing intuition. Since then, he has undergone several rituals as he has ascended the priestly hierarchy and his current full title is Pandita Agni Bang Wiwekananda Baskara.
While many Balinese priests serve as mediators between the earthly and spiritual realms, (sekala and niskala, the seen and the unseen, the sacred and the profane, the mortal and the divine, man and gods), I Nyoman Sudanta possesses higher and wider authority, and is sanctioned to use esoteric incantations and sophisticated rituals and symbols during his ceremonies.
Singing Bowl – The Healing Rituals of Vibrational Sound Therapy
By healing expert, Dr. Buathon Thienarrom
The singing bowl was originated from pre-Buddhist Shamanic Bon Po culture in the Himalayas, and it was often called “Tibetan” Singing Bowl, the bowls were made in various societies such as Bhutan, Nepal, India and Tibet.
Traditionally, the bowls were made of seven sacred metals, corresponding to the seven planets of GOLD – Sun, Mercury – Mercury, Iron – Mars, Lead – Saturn, Silver – Moon, Copper – Venus and Tin – Jupiter. Indigenously was mentioned that, Iron was from meteorites found in the top of Himalayan Mountain, Metal was from the heaven. Unlike some of the Tibetan sound devices that were well-documented as part of Tibetan Buddhist Cannon, there was absolutely nothing written about the singing bowls even though they have been found in both monasteries and private homes.
The Tibetans mentioned the bowls were simply bowls for use as food containers traditionally; Tibetan pregnancy women would eat out of these bowls so they received a homeopathic dose of the metal elements to maintain their mineral intake. It was hard to believe that the handmade object that vibrating each substances and simultaneous the tones as its own consistent frequency and sustaining a range of vibrations were intended as a container for food.
In a deeper understanding in Tibetan culture, the Singing Bowls were not just a food container, the highest Lamas were also using them as ritual offerings to their Gods and Deities, and some folks said; the highest Lamas used these bowls for their rituals to travel to another level of consciousness, but it was forbidden to talk about these bowls, even within the monasteries themselves.
The sound or vibration of singing bowls is pure and universal, allowing the frequency of the sound vibrating the water in our body, it helps the body to relax and slow down the busy mind, allowing an inner peace.
Singing bowls can be a good tool for meditation practice. Nowadays many healers or spa industries have integrated the singing bowl into their treatments, as the sound vibration will vibrate water in our body at the cellular level internally, distracting the mind and allowing the brain waves to slow down from normal waking state of Beta waves (14-20 Hz) to day dream, associated to state of mediation at Alpha waves (8-13 Hz), thus calm down the thoughts and able to facilitate a deeper state of relaxation.
The Master grade healing singing bowls are handmade on a Full Moon evening of each month by enhancing the subtle moon energy for subtle healing vibrations. The singing bowl can be used either for simply meditation practice based on personal use or for healing purposes.
It begins with one bowl to distract the mind prior to the spa treatment to sound massage by using the sound vibration to massage the body, and till now become seven chakras healing bowl as the sound chamber to vibrate the energy from root chakra till crown chakra, thus promote a sleeping enhancement and allowing the mind to rest and facilitate “no thought” moments.
Singing bowls have seven notes similar to musical notes and vibrate for seven chakras healing, the identification of singing bowl note related to the sound that is produced from each bowl while the identification of each note to each chakra is based on vibrational practice of each school of training.
Most singing bowls that are specialized on healing purpose are handmade and crafted by singing bowl musicians and shamanic healing families in the past two generations, all bowls are seven metals consisting of Gold, Silver, Mercury, Copper, Iron, Tin and Lead.
It is an integrative practice that must have a proper training to work on their own energetic level. It is not just to hit or strike the bowl but rather understand the sensitivity of sound vibration and resonance during the treatment.
The training is very important to transform and open the energy channel thus allowing themselves to be peaceful and aware of the vibration and be able to pick up the vibration once the the level of the sound is very low.
One singing bowl can be introduced as a ritual to most of spa treatments especially body massage and head massage to help spa guests to distract their minds, slow down their thoughts and cleanse their energy prior to spa treatments.
An alternative that Six Senses at Samui introduced is a complete seven chakra healing bowls with a combination of unique healing massage as a sleep enhancement program for their spa guests.
Most spas consider having one singing bowl to promote calmness and the sense of openness before the spa treatment and finish with another round of singing bowl for an inner peace at the end of the treatment. And, that is absolutely a great treatment ritual.
Watsu – A Water Movement, Meditation and Ceremony
By Watsu expert, Mr. Toru Ogasawa
We can spend a few minutes contemplating the myriad forms that water takes such as oceans, streams, rainfall, clouds, lakes and rivers. As we connect to the cycle of water and its journey through air, over Earth, in and out of our bodies, we naturally drop into a state of interconnected well-being, for example, Watsu.
The first thing we do at the beginning of the session is called “Surrender to the Water”. We submerge to shoulder depth, release all muscle tensions and find our breath. Just surrender to the water and let our breath keep us vertical. Then, after we pick up our receiver, the first move is called “Water Breath Dance”.
In the water, breath makes our body move, water makes breath have a rhythm-like dance, then we match our breath with the receiver, share the same balance, and dance in the oneness, that is a ceremony to the Watsu provider, and also to the receiver.
Healing by water itself is already beyond the physical issue, as we were born in the water of our mother’s uterus. Some receivers shared their feeling after the Watsu treatment, say they were like fish or seaweed, or a free bird. Watsu creates a meditation of deep relaxation, it is a peaceful ceremony that binds the provider and receiver together by trust.
Non-gravity state also plays a big role in the healing process of Watsu. When the receivers turn off their minds, then the body will become completely free. Free of control, and free of gravity, the buoyancy and resistance of water will work with the provider together, to create a special water treatment experience.
Watsu is about freeing the body in the water. In general, “freedom” and “security” usually don’t come together. When you are free, you are insecure. When you are secure, you usually depend on something and you are not really free. But Watsu can provide both, which is incredible. The oneness with the water makes you feel so secured and free that magical healing process can happen.
From water, we learn to be fluid, grounded, creative, spontaneous, non-judgmental, compassionate and to be with the client rather than doing something to the client.
In Watsu, we learn how to move our body in the most efficient way. Many land therapists testify that learning Watsu improves their land therapy very much because they learn the body mechanics. Many Watsuers also testify that because water conveys a lot of information, we learn how to be grounded within ourselves. We learn how to stay neutral and aligned both physically and mentally.
Watsu combines well with any bodywork and massages, and can make each other better in results. After Watsu, receivers will enjoy deeper feeling of other body treatments, as physically their bodies are open and softened, and mentally they are more relaxed than usual, they are more ready for movements and integration.
Especially, after Watsu, oil massages are beneficial because the skin needs care from the warm water. Also deep tissues, shiatsu or any other strong stimulation is good after Watsu to continually refresh the body and mind. And Watsu is great for movement and integration (alignment) after softening and opening by Thai massage or yoga.