The practice of Pa Kua is made up of many rituals. Some of them we call by name, some we do without thinking about it. The rituals are an important thing to do so we can train our minds to change in response to our actions. I have a ritual that I do, and that I have my students do every class. I don’t usually explain it as a ritual, but it is one and it follows these steps:
1. Arrive at the studio.
2. Change from my street clothes to my Pa Kua uniform.
3. Step to the side of the practice area and salute the flag and the teacher.
4. Enter the practice area and find my spot for the class.
5. Start the class.
This ritual is one that I hold in very high regard, and it’s one that I have practiced for many years. When I practice at home, or at the park or the beach, I always follow the same steps. Why?
This ritual allows me to empty my mind and become nameless. When I wear my clothes and sit in my car I have many thoughts about my bills, my family, e-mails, text messages, TV shows, and all the things which make me who I am. But when I practice I forget for a time about those things. Instead, I live in the moment, focused on the technique I’m practicing, or the partner I am with, or the way I feel. To be inside myself and in the moment takes a lot of time and practice. The ritual of a uniform, a salute, and the process of transition between an ordinary space and a practice space allows me to make that transition faster and more complete the more I practice it.
My Purpose gives the ritual power, and my purpose is given power by habit. The technique of a ritual gives me transformation. I hope that you think about the ritual of gathering, the ritual of giving, and the ritual of eating this holiday season.
“Ritual is to the internal sciences what experiment is to the external sciences.”
-Master Kyle Billingsley