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Barbara Biziou

Healing Rituals
by Barbara Biziou

"Grief has a quality of healing in it that is very deep
because we are forced to a depth of emotion that is
usually below the threshold of our awareness.
--Stephen Levine

9/11--and, in fact, every crisis humankind confronts--teaches us that healing in the face of lifeís challenges is not a luxury but a necessity. Healing rituals are the universal lifelines that offer us deliverance from fears, real and imagined; they resurrect us from the heart of despair and return us to wholeness.

How can we find positive sustainable comforts in our age of anxiety? A comfort that connects us to the Divine, regardless of our religion or spiritual tradition? In my work, ritual is the key that turns the lock and opens the mind and heart and shifts us from unconsciousness back into consciousness.

The Joy of Ritual by Barbara Biziou

Today we are dealing with healing from natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, floods, wildfires, droughts), mass violent victimization (riots, terrorist bombings, biological terrorism) as well illness and disease. The challenge is daunting.

Healing from 9/11

Healing from disasters, especially those like 9/11 and Oklahoma City, require their own unique rituals. Since our basic assumptions about humanity; that the world is safe; that danger can be kept out and the loss of illusion of invulnerability have been shattered, many people need to redefine their relationship with Spirit, their friends and family and their community. In New York City I have found a real need to talk about events and feelings associated with 9/11. This need has not gone away and our healing rituals allow space for this expression. It is important to remember that healing can take many years--one to 5 is typical from a major disaster, although it can be longer. Therefore, the rituals we choose will change and evolve over time

Connecting to Community:

There is also a great need to feel one is a part of the community and its recovery efforts. Many of the altars expressing concern and prayers for the firemen, policemen, victims and their families still remain today. These altars were, and still are, rituals of comfort and connection.

Collective Healing:

When an event is as far-reaching as 9/11 there is a need to mourn collectively as well as personally. Millions of people were impacted around the world and spontaneous prayer vigils (many multi-cultural), altars and support groups have sprung out of our human need to be a part of something larger than ourselves.

Rituals of Silence

A moment of silence to reflect, become aware of feelings and to send prayers is a powerful healing.

Rituals of Remberance

Getting together to tell stories of the people we lost allows their memory to live on. Bring pictures and stories to share.

Keep a Journal

Writing in a journal is a way to experience your thoughts and feelings as they arise. It is like having a best friend to confide in. It can be a release of anxiety and a solace in aloneness.

Rituals of Release

In a Safe Place, try the following

  • Write down your feelings on a piece of paper and burn it. Make sure you burn the paper in a fireplace or fire-proof bowl.
  • Scream
  • Pound a pillow
  • Have a temper tantrum
  • Hit a punching bag
  • Release your sorrow to a fast moving stream (symbolically place sand, stones or dirt into the water to express your pain)
  • Dance
  • Drum

"During times of anxiety we must take very good care of ourselves. This is a time when we are most at risk for accidents, illness, or misusing substance that we hope will help us control the feelings."
--Anne Brener, Mourning and Mitzvah

Create Nurturing Rituals

Find ways to nurture your body and spirit that are healthy and will sustain you. Get massages, take long baths, exercise, eat nutritious food.

Healing the Body: Mind-Body Healing

The amazing power of the mind-body connection has been recognized in many cultures throughout the ages and more recently, confirmed by modern medical research. Practitioners and patients alike know that by opening your heart, calming your mind, and directing your thoughts toward positive outcomes, you encourage your body to activate its natural healing mechanism.

Multi-Cultural Healing Rituals

Over time, healing rituals have taken on diverse forms. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks poured water over sacred statues and then collected it in small urns to be sipped by the afflicted. In parts of Greece, Asia and Africa, people still leave pictures, metal reproductions, or carvings of diseased parts of their bodies in temples and churches, hoping that prayers of the faithful will cure them. Millions of pilgrims visit Lourdes, Fatima, and other Christian shrines every year, seeking healing in return for their belief.

Cultures around the world utilize the power of collective energy for healing rituals. Ruins of healing temples have been excavated in Greece, Turkey, and Egypt. Native American shamans still employ sand painting in elaborate healing practices, using powdered sandstone of different colors to paint sacred patterns that attract healing spirits. The patient sits on the painting while a chanting shaman invites the relevant forces to enter the painting and cure the patient. In the end, the sand, which has absorbed all the negative forces, is thrown away.

In a similar fashion, I attended a Healing Prayer Mandala ceremony, by the Buddhist Monks, sent by the Dalai Lama to NY and Washington DC. For days, they prayed and chanted as they created a vast sand mandala. On the last day they destroyed the work as a symbol of the impermanence of all beings and ceremonially brought the sand to the Hudson River where it was released to "the source."

The Power of Positive Thoughts

The more often you send positive mental messages to your brain, the more your physical body will respond and facilitate your healing. Sometimes healing occurs instantaneously; other times it is a gradual process. In some cases, it is the spirit--not the body--that is healed.

Sometimes we inherit a tendency toward a certain disease and sometimes our lifestyles threaten our health. In any case, be gentle with yourself. Donít blame yourself or feel guilty about being sick. It is a waste of precious energy. Use this energy to connect to Spirit and create healing rituals that can support our psychological and physical determination to heal.

Dealing With Serious Medical Procedures

When we are ill and/or going through a serious medical procedure, we experience understandable anxiety about the unknown: going into the hospital, the cold, sterile environment, the alien practices and routines, the outcome of treatment, the side effects of medications. During the treatment, our anxiety increase--we usually lack control over our body and whatís being done to it. Weíre overwhelmed and usually feeling powerless.

Healing rituals allow you to become an active participant in your own healing process. Immediately you boost your immune system and activate your bodyís own natural healing abilities. Studies show that people who use imagery and music during surgery lower their heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. The same holds true for radiation or chemotherapy treatments--common stress-filled experiences for most people

The Joy of Family Rituals by Barbara Biziou

Create a Healing Stick

Gather together some close friends and family. Ask each person to symbolically place a blessing for you on a bead, a stone or some other small object. Allison may want to imbue the objects with her sense of humor, while Jason blesses his crystal with courage and patience. Attach the objects to a piece of string, colored yarn or leather thong. Then tie these pieces onto a stick in any pattern that pleases you. The stick should be 6-12 inches in length.

You have created a healing stick. Bless your friends and their virtues, which now reside in your stick. Drawing on these strengths, tell your body to relax and to work with, not fight against, the treatment. Imagine strength coming to you from this sacred object.

Many patients I have worked with take these "healing sticks" to the hospital and to doctorís visits. Some keep them by their bed or in their purse. Iíve found that most doctors and nurses support any means to make their patients more positive and even allow these healing sticks into the operating room.

Music has the power to transform

Music helps create or alter a mood, touching your physical, emotional, and spiritual being. Certain rhythms emulate a heartbeat and their repetition can help adults and children feel more balanced. Don Campbell, author of the Mozart Effect, documents the fact that music can slow down and equalize brain waves and can generate a sense of safety and well being.

Try listening to Prayer--A Multi-Cultural Journey of Spirit, Deva Premalís The Essence (chants from around the world) or Healing by Anugama. Create your own healing music by finding sounds that soothe your spirit.


These are some of my favorite essences to use in healing rituals.
Chamomile: calming
Cinnamon-uplifting -boosts the immune system
Cypress: comfort (especially for the loss of a loved one)
Juniper: health, vitality
Lavender: calming, helps access grief
Lemon, lime, orange, vanilla- uplifting- good for depression
Melissa-balance emotional blocks
Neroli: stabilizes the nervous system
Rose-balance and harmony-opens the heart
Sandalwood: relieves anxiety and depression

Prayer works

Donít underestimate the power of collective prayer. Set a time each day or once a week to get together with a group to pray for healing for individuals and for the world. "Feel" the emotion of peace and healing spreading out throughout the globe.

When doing a healing for another person, it is advisable to have their permission. If you donít know if they want others to pray for them, you can simply set the intention to make this healing available if they choose to receive it.

"Contemplation and adoration of the "Lightí compels illumination to take place in the mind--health, strength, and order to come into the body--and peace, harmony, and success to manifest in the affairs of every individual who will really do it, and seeks to maintain it."
--Godfre Ray King, Unveiled Mysteries

 © Copyright 2002 Barbara Biziou.  All Rights Reserved. 

Barbara Biziou
Barbara Biziou
, America's foremost ritual expert, teaches us how to restore ritual to its rightful place as food for the soul. Through practical, easy to use ritual recipes that are powerful and inspiring, Barbara teaches people how to effect remarkable changes in their lives. Since 1981 she has traveled the globe, showing individuals and companies how to incorporate spirituality into their hectic lifestyles. Whether you're releasing fear, creating a new career, bringing deeper meaning to a family or community gathering, or celebrating life's passages, her books, The Joys of Everyday Ritual and The Joy of Family Rituals, are like wise best friends that can reconnect you to your heart and soul. Website: www.joyofritual.com. Email: britual@aol.com


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