Home' Nova West : December 2009 Contents worldwide for their meditative approach
to something so seemingly simple
-- preparing, pouring and drinking tea.
In Japan, the practice of Cha No Yu or
tea ceremony continues to be highly
respected and learnt by people of all ages
under exacting tutors. In the words of
Tenshin Okakura, a Japanese scholar who
brought tea ceremony to the West when
he published The Book of Tea in 1906 in
New York, "Cha no yu is a ritual that
worships the beautiful things that exist in
Students study hard to become adept
at the graceful precision of tea ceremony.
Like many sacred rituals it must become so
well known, so deeply understood that it
can be performed with heart engagement,
rather than in a dry intellectual way.
As we come into the long holiday
season in Australia, a time for socialising
with family and friends, there are
opportunities to repeat in ritualistic ways
the ceremonies unique to our culture. In
so many ways, we find comfort in revisiting
old places filled with memories, connecting
with once a year companions, preparing,
serving and sharing food reserved for
just such an occasion.
Just as we (hopefully) feel relaxed
and renewed by the ceremonies of our
celebrations, the Lakota people in the
Sonoran desert of Arizona find mental
clarity and a feeling of renewal in their
Inipi or sweatlodge ceremony. The simple
yet sacred word Inipi embodies a great
wisdom. According to one leading Lakota
chief, known as Chief Phil, "In" means by
or with, "Ni" is similar to the Chinese Qi
and means the energy of life, and "Pi" as
in tipi means to abide or dwell. So Inipi
means "a ceremony or ritual by which one
dwells in the energy of life." To dwell in
the energy of life sounds like a particularly
graceful way to be present.
Through these apparently different
cultures there runs a universal theme, that
of the healing power of ceremony and its
ability to unite communities.
Modern day healers offer the tools
of mindful awareness as a technique that
empowers people to be their own healer
in every moment. By making mindfulness
a part of everyday activities, the most
mundane of daily tasks can become
sacred. It is a fine line to tread between
setting and achieving goals (something
our culture tends to admire greatly) and
relaxing into the timeless spaciousness
of the moment. What is most powerful is
that within that surrender is giving in to the
flow of life so that what we may call grace
or dharma carries us towards those goals,
seemingly without effort. But there is work
in cultivating the attitude of non-striving.
The effort required is applied to resist
© NOVA DECEMBER 2009
A t first glance there is very little
evidence of meaningful ceremonies
in modern secular society. Yet
healers in many traditions work with
people to identify the powerful healing
forces available in their lives. Through
cultures of the East and West, there is a
sacred space to be discovered whenever
we choose to slow down and mindfully
approach the tasks of everyday living.
Holistic healing is based on the premise
that you have within you and around
you all the tools you need for optimal
wellbeing. Others may guide you to find
your own wisdom, but it is up to you
to take responsibility and become the
master of your own mind and body.
In the sweatlodges of North America,
a ritual of healing and purification
uses chanting, intention, and a specific
arrangement of natural elements to bring
renewal and clarity to the Lakota people.
A similar use of plants, heat, earth and
chanting informs the Bibbulmun people of
the South West of Australia in their deeply
transformative pit healing ceremonies.
Both ceremonies require commitment
and self discipline, a willingness to journey
through discomfort on every level to find
healing. This kind of internal healing is
not passive, although it may well involve
surrendering to a higher aspect of self.
Arranging the elements is also part of
the ancient tea ceremony of Japan.
Practitioners of tea ceremony are admired
Your Own Healer
With mindful awareness, we, too, can draw on the wisdom of traditional cultures that ritual
is a powerful healing force. Chandrika Gibson offers her guidance.
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