The Power of Ritual
Just a quick thought this time…
One thing we can learn from the way our classical arts are structured is that ritual and practice are the key. One can read about the theory of music or dance (or yoga or meditation or skiing or any other number of things) but they won’t understand it until they act on it and experience it. But even so, a short trial or sporadic attempts do not bear fruit. Instead, continual practice applied with determination and grit pave the path to results.
Both when we begin learning dance and sangeetham, the first thing we learn are the opening namaskaram vidhanam, which is also repeated at close. These are simple, grounding rituals that signal our mind and body to get in the frame of mind needed for the art. With the Kuchipudi namaskaram, in particular, it is a process of coming forward with open arms, and surrendering to God, Guru, and humanity, as well as acknowledging our connection with Mother Earth and seeking her forgiveness. What better way is there is start and end a practice?
I had a revelation recently - there is a lot of talk about habits and diets and regimens to make life changes, but really those are a concerted efforts to replace old rituals of day-to-day life with new ones.
I think many of us have taken on the modern-day ritual of rolling over in the morning and reaching for the cell phone. I know I’m guilty of that, and I’m trying to replace that with a better ritual. Who knows what the phone will show and how that will color my day, but if I instead begin with a predictable ritual that has a grounding, positive outcome, I will be starting with my best foot forward.
The word “ritual” itself is key, too (at least for myself). Because when I think in terms of habits or resolutions or challenges, it implies competitiveness with a preset goal. However, when I think in terms of a ritual, it is a sacred practice set with a positive intention. The focus is the process of the ritual, not the product.
So, I’m going to be reflecting on the rituals of my daily life both within and beyond dance and see which ones I need to update (starting with the morning cellphone check).
How about you?