Focus? Focus on what? What does He want me to do? Think?: What am I supposed to be thinking about?
That scene had played out several times during the first year of my being a slave. It took a long time to figure out and to understand. To learn first hand and on a gut level what could not be “taught”. To hear what could not be said. That is true knowledge.
Today, when I hear people say: “We don't believe in ceremonies”, or “rituals are just stupid”, my reaction is to feel that they are neglecting important tools. There is a reason that religions have used ceremonies since time began. A reason that so many sports champions have little rituals that they feel compelled to do before every contest. Every student in college has tried some odd thing (except study) to make a better grade on a test. Most times we never even stop to consider why. We just know we have to do it.
I believe they are missing the point. Ceremonies and rituals can serve as a filter. They allow us to put our minds on one thing and to let other thoughts fade away. Following a certain ritual can put us in a “mindset”. They can force a perspective to a certain extant. They screen out distractions which attack from every corner. In today’s environment, we are bombarded with these more than ever in history. It is only then we can learn.
If we need to do some psychical task, our minds will be on that performance. How often have we heard some athlete say: “I can't think about what the other guy is doing, I just focus on what I can achieve and think about the other things later”. This allows them to do the best they can. You can almost bet they have done some small thing they might even call a superstition before each event.
This is no different than facing the everyday tasks and duties. Having a certain ceremony before bedtime will make it easier to sleep. Having a “morning routine” makes starting the day go faster and reduces the chances of forgetting something.
For myself, I know when times are rough or I am down, having a set order to follow will help me change perspective. I can get things done when I follow a procedure. That is all a ritual or a ceremony is. A path, a guideway: a “do this first, then this, then this”, that forms a GPS to handle our lives.
Yes, like anything else, people can take it to an extreme. But you see that thought is in itself a distraction.
How can tapping your forehead three times help you think of the right answer? Simply this: that action distracts the distractions! It filters out the noise, takes away the clutter, clears out the un-necessary so that what you need is plain to see.
Soon, I shall go through my daily morning ritual that lets me get my mind facing the right direction. This morning, before leaving, Master ordered me to find the time for an hour wearing my shackles and to report.
He knows this is a treat for me, I love wearing them. He wants me to sit and focus. To clear my mind of distractions because then I will find meaning, direction, answers, whatever I need at that time will be there for me. Afterwords He will want a full report.
Is it “magical thinking” to believe that wearing metal bands on my wrists and sitting with my eyes closed will cause my thinking to clear? Of course not! It does precisely that.
“Follow the steps, do them in order”. That is the only way things get done. It is the same, wither you are a pilot of a giant airliner, an astronaut, or a cook with a recipe.
Ceremonies and rituals are your filters and GPS for life and they are free! You need no expensive equipment. Just learn them and follow them.
Following certain steps in order can also bring solace to an aching heart, sooth a fevered brain, Even help bring your world back to a state of normalcy after a traumatic experience.
Let slave urge you. If you do not have certain rituals, make one! Use these important tools to help but do not make them your purpose. Rely on these to help you walk, but do not give up on the walking itself. They can allow you achieve more than you ever dreamed of.