I wanted to share a story with you about the power of rituals. I love rituals myself; I once did my own personal ritual of "calling forth a husband" and within two weeks I met the love of my life. He's still here ten years later. So I am a living testimonial that rituals can work.
As a clinical sexologist and a holistic sex coach, I believe that using the five elements of sexuality (and relationships) can direct the work with clients. My model for assessing where a client is "stuck" and how to move them toward their ultimate sexual/relationship goals is known as MEBES: Mind, Emotions, Body/Body image and Behaviors, Energy and Spirit. Often by focusing in on the spirit or energetic aspects of our work together, miracles do happen.
Here is one example:
We'll call them Fred and Laura. They were in a 10-year marriage with 2 school-aged children and came to me with a desparate story. They had been fighting all the time. They felt stress about working too much, stress over his not earning money, stress over her being the sole provider, and complained about the absence of anything reminiscent of sexual contact in their lifestyle. They even stopped sensually or affectionately touching each other. Sex really had fallen off their radar screen. By the time they came to me for help, things were pretty bad and constant conflict was the rule of the day.
I suggested that perhaps we begin with the usual history-taking most competent sexologists or sex therapists would do, along with getting a clear picture of what were the interpersonal and individual blockages for this relationship. The list included the usual suspects, but we focused on their unresolved anger, resentments, poor sexual communication, lack of desire, and avoiding touch. Their uneven styles for sexually staying aroused also were contributing factors. And, like many of my couple clients, they were workaholics! Even though he wasn't employed and she was the source of high income, he was always busy at some project. She traveled a lot and he was always on the phone, at a computer or at another meeting. The kids were on auto-pilot, too.
You get the drift: They were zooming around, taking care of what needed to be done, but never spending time on just "BEING" a couple.
So, it appeared that until they were able to clear some of the obstacles with me, nothing would change. Boy, was that the truth. It took a 3-hour ritual on a mountaintop in a sacred ceremony that I created and led for them, to help them to let go of the stuck past.
They used one of my favorite techniques, the Balloon Releasing Ritual. Here is how it is done: Write down on post-it's what you want to let go of in your life (sexlessness, fear, anger, negative body image, lack of forgiving each other, avoiding affectionate touch, workaholism....) and put these little notes, one at a time, into the mouth of a balloon (I bring all the materials); blow into it, tie it at the ends and then....whoosh, release it into the air while stating the obvious. It went something like this: "I, Fred, now release our sexless marriage..." Or "I, Laura, now release workaholism..." And after sending off a battalion of about seven, shiny, beautifully colored balloons each, and incanting positive statements about what they wanted instead, they sat on the sandy knoll and wept. Together. Holding each other tight. We all held hands as we marched our way down the winding sandy trail to the parking lot. I gave them instructions for what to do next. But that's another story.
They told me, a week later, that life had changed for them that day. They let go of that wall; they felt lightness and hope. They made love that night for over an hour and wrote me a personal thank you note that said, "Thanks, Dr. Patti, for being an angel, and helping us let go of our baggage! We love each other so much. We couldn't have done it without you. Love, Fred and Laura."
Sometimes I smile when I read notes like this, knowing that it is the power of rituals that helped this couple to heal.
Love, Dr. Patti