Rituals of Spiritual Health

An excerpt from The Creative Fire: 10 Weeks to Emotional and Creative Fitness,

By Dr. Bob Beare


The biographies of artists are full of poverty, insanity, addiction, and lives of extraordinary imbalance. The emphasis on this aspect of the creative life is so romanticized that it’s easy to believe that to be a real artist, we have to at least cut off an ear or live under a bridge for some period of time in order to measure up. While this is an exaggeration, the creative life does demand a life of feeling and a regular experience of tension and release as we experience the paradox of risk vs. comfort. But, as we flirt with these mysterious aspects of the unconscious, we need not live a life of emptiness and misery to be the creative beings we were born to be.

The human body and mind need rituals to create order in the psyche. Many psychiatric disorders illustrate this in the extreme. Some of the symptoms of psychosis and obsessive-compulsive disorders include an involuntary variety of repetitive language and physical habits or tics. When unconscious material finds its way into the conscious mind, it must be contained and cared for. In psychosis and severe developmental disorders, the ability to regulate the flow of this energy is reduced and the human system, with its brilliant ability to compensate, attempts to create a process of ritual behavior for the overflow. Think of the repetition of phrases by Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man or the behavior of Jamie Foxx’s character in The Soloist. These are extreme examples, but we all have flavors of this in our psychic systems. If we don’t use our ingenuity to intentionally create a set of healthy rituals, our unconscious psychological system – which is at least as creative as we are – will automatically create a dysfunctional set of repetitions.

Though we all flirt with the descriptions (or disorders) in the Diagnostic Statistics Manual (DSM) as part of our personalities, we must use care not to pathologize our personal divergences from whatever is perceived as normal. Another way to approach these patterns is to trust that they may well be pointing to areas that need attention. Carl Jung called these parts of ourselves - that are denied or repressed - the shadow. This part of the psyche retains our suppressed life force and has a tendency to create chaos and destruction as a means of getting our attention.

Some of the most spiritual people alive are in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Many of these folks will tell you that part of their former obsession with alcohol (spirits) and/or drugs was an ineffective and counterfeit ritual that needed to be replaced with something profoundly positive. That particular brand of “recovery” involves a regular rhythm of fellowship, meetings, meditation, as well as other generative spiritual and emotional experiences.

The Creative Fire “Combo Process” will honor and invite the wisdom stored in the shadowy parts of us and allow the frozen complexes (clusters of negative messages in our psyche that keep the shadow hidden from us) to dissolve. The Combo Process is designed to help you create a combination of personal rituals that will loosen the grip that your survival mechanisms have created. By crafting this in a way that works for you and your values, you will invite a more vivid experience of the way you see, taste, hear, smell, and feel.

And on the logic of spirituality:

Whether you consider yourself religious or spiritual, or both, let’s consider the realm and function of God (or the gods). No matter how divergent our beliefs, most will agree that these are concerned with flight, light, vision, and ascent, even redemption. We know so little of ourselves and the mystery of existence. Being connected to something beyond our full understanding is critical if we want to expand our psychological health, as those who have survived the dance with the demons of addiction know too well.


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