This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.
Got thinking about the importance of ritual, but through a different lens now. Returned briefly to Maslow’s Religion, Values, and Peak Experiences, always a gloriously eye-opening read for me. Some brief insights worth sharing.
I feel as if a haze has been removed from my line of vision. All of it—the habit change, honoring thyself (which isn’t nearly as arduous an undertaking as I’ve made it out to be now that I’ve changed some habits)—has got me feeling a bit like a new woman. More open to people and experiences, less worried about making circumstances as I want them to be, not bothered by little anxieties—anxieties I didn’t even realize I had! So much for self-awareness…And my little ceremonies—they’ve changed, too. Or, perhaps my attitude toward the role of ritual in my everyday life is beginning to change. I am in the process of cultivating a religious attitude towards life. An insight I, in all likelihood, would not have had (or, rather, a moniker I myself would never have claimed, being a conventionally unreligious sort) if Maslow had not divorced the institution from the transcendent functions of ceremony in his discussion of peak experiences:
All the paraphernalia of organized religion–buildings and specialized personnel, rituals, dogmas, ceremonials, and the like are to the ‘peaker’ secondary, peripheral, and of doubtful value in relation to the intrinsic and essential transcendent experience. Perhaps they may even be very harmful in various ways. From the point of view of the peak-experiencer, each person has his own private religion, which he develops out of his own private revelations in which are revealed to him his own private myths and symbols, rituals and ceremonials, which may be of the profoundest meaning to him personally and yet completely idiosyncratic, i.e., of no meaning to anyone else. But to say it more simply, each ‘peaker’ discovers, develops, and retains his own religion.
– A.H. Maslow
Experiencing the sacred in the human, in the here-and-now. But, it all feels rather effortless. More everyday activities begin to feel like rituals—like homages to life, or affirmations of life—once one’s attitude, or perception, changes (what I’ve observed in myself and what prompted this research). Insight-producing. Gratifying. Signaling depth. Savoring the fullness of the moment in its totality. But, isn’t this what Maslow means by “unitive perception,” anyway? And Jung. I have a great deal more reading to do to enhance my understanding of Jungian psychology. Of the depth dimension.
Some activities that are beginning to take on greater importance: running, cycling, yoga. All forms of moving meditation. And, to me, feel almost prayerful. Blissful, the birthplace of much creativity and insight. Swimming does this, too. As does sitting and listening to music without distraction.
When we are well and healthy and adequately filling the concept “human being,” then experiences of transcendence should in principle be commonplace.
– A.H. Maslow
What I didn’t grasp, in all its implications, on first read: the notion of a religious attitude as one that simply sanctifies life. And that begins with an honoring (or “sacralizing,” as Maslow calls it) of self but certainly does not end there. In the daring to not only accept, but to elevate and abide uncompromisingly by, our own values and inner urgings. To respect our own nature. To come home to ourselves. Rogers says this very thing. That one can constantly, or near-constantly, live a ritualized existence. And that this is natural. And is certainly not reserved for only a select “special” few. I am in the process of cultivating a religious attitude towards life–one that begins with the reverence I have for myself.
I am delighted to announce that two of my poems, Seven Road, Part I and Patchwork–both, truly, a joint creative effort between TheUsedLife and artist, T. Blake–are on exhibit at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs, CO for the month of February. And I am only just realizing I do not have a properly formatted image of the original artwork that accompanies Patchwork to display on this site…yet. Apologies. I will publish photos from the Word Art exhibition in a forthcoming post.