August 15, 2012 Do you have ritual?

My 18 year old cat, Tigre is losing her kitty mind. I didn’t know this, but 50% of cats over 15 experience kitty dementia, which appears as dementia in humans does. She wakes in the middle of the night disoriented, nervous and makes it known by asking a series of meow questions. I’m grateful she’s not crying nor howling. She just wants to know who I am, where we are, why I’m sleeping instead of playing, etc. And I realize my role is to hold down the ritual-provide a reference point that may comfort her. Other than that, I need to let her be in her old age, as she lets go of her cognitive mind. I have seen moments of extreme bliss cross her kitty eyes.

So, I began keeping to an ardent schedule. I wake, generally the same time, light a candle, visualize the day, and sing good morning to them. Then we all wander into the kitchen and prepare food. I meditate while they eat. Then we water the garden together, Tigre and Seva hunt for moths. I have so many rituals I can honestly say my life is comprised of more ritual than chaos. I like it and having devotion to ritual had helped me weather the most tempestuous of storms. What is the distinction between a habit and a ritual one of my clever students asked. “Can drinking coffee everyday be my ritual?” Yes, if that’s how you ask the important questions, celebrate the meaning of your life, connect to the divine, etc. A ritual has intention backing it up. It’s deliberate in that it is meant to help us reflect and reference who we are and why we’re here, as well as celebrate our responses. And one day we’ll surrender even those reflections, as Tigre has done. But until then, because Fall is such a season of transition, pick a ritual-commit to it, and let it ease you continually into the present moment, free of suffering. Here’s a few examples: Walk, Read Spiritual Text, Light a Candle, Visualize your day and Pray upon Waking, Meditate, Breathe 10 Times Before Getting Up, Bless Your Food, Chant/Sing, and many more…

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