There's nothing really magical about cleansing rituals - I believe they do as much to reset your mind and help you set intention as anything else. Therefore, while I'll make some specific suggestions, what I tell people who wish to engage in cleansing rituals is that they should listen to their intuition. If something feels appropriate to you and your situation, then do it with the intention to bring about positive change and remove negativity.
The Power of Intention
I want to start our discussion of cleansing rituals talking about intention. When working metaphysically, intention is everything. Therefore, your first and most important cleansing ritual is recognizing a pattern of negativity has entered your life and setting the intention to convert the negative energy to positive. Then, you need to continue to re-set that intention until it becomes ingrained.
Affirmation and visualizations are both very powerful methods of re-setting intention. A simple intention setting exercise you can perform is this: sit quietly somewhere that you won't be disturbed with your eyes closed. Breathe in deeply and then exhale. As you breathe in, say to yourself, "I breathe in the positive," and visualize positive energy flowing in through your nostrils with your breath and filling your body. As you exhale, say to yourself, "I exhale the negative," and visualize negativity flowing out of your body with your breath. Continue doing this for as long as you feel is appropriate. Then, throughout the day as you notice yourself caught up in the negative energetic patterns, take a moment to briefly close your eyes, place your hands over your heart, take a deep breath, and visualize breathing in the positive (restating the above affirmation) and breathing out the negative (restating the above affirmation.)
Another exercise for releasing negativity and converting it to the positive is a simple visualization. Sit or lie comfortably with your eyes closed. Visualize the negativity as dark shadows in your body. Now, watch those dark shadows leave your body, rising out into the atmosphere or flowing down into the earth and dissipating. Next, see white light come from above and surround and fill you completely. Do this for as long as you need to feel the energy patterns shifting. Then, throughout the day as you notice the negativity slipping back in (as it inevitably does) breathe in white light and breathe out dark energy, saying to yourself, "Release."
Using Smoke for Cleansing
Many people are probably aware of the ritual of burning sacred herbs, such as sage, to transmute energy. Sage is probably the most well-known and commonly burned herb, and many believe it clears negative energy, setting the stage for more positive energy to come in. After burning sage, you'll need to burn another herb to invite positive energy, such as palo santo (my favorite), sweetgrass, or lavender. When burning herbs, you can leave them in the middle of the room to fill the room, or you can walk with a bundle around the house starting at the front door, and making sure the smoke goes around all doors and windows.
You can also use incense smoke as a method for clearing energy, or you can burn resins like frankincense or myrrh. Nag champs is a a good incense choice, although you can find incense to be burned for all kinds of purposes in metaphysical stores.
Of course since the cleansing rituals are intention based, you can also do something that requires very little, such as light a candle and let it burn. As long as your intention is to signify a change in the energy, this may work, as well. Choose a scent like sandalwood or frankincense, which have sacred properties. Although it isn't technically smoke, you can also diffuse essential oils, choosing oils that have properties of the energy you are trying to bring about. Here's a good link with properties of many essential oils and fragrances: http://www.spiritual-path.com/aromatherapy.htm
Cleansing Your Environment
Cleansing Your Environment: A cleansing ritual can really be anything that allows you to begin to shift the energy in your life. When you're ready to start to shift energy patterns, it's time to literally clean house. Use scents that uplift you - I recommend happy aromatherapy scents like grapefruit or lemon. Remove clutter, clean out closets, vacuum away cobwebs, and wash your windows so the sunlight or moonlight can enter in to your home. Open the windows and invite in fresh air. Once your environment is sparkling (don't forget your car!), bring in positive energy with objects you love - like a bouquet of flowers or a scented candle.
If you're cleansing energy in the wake of a toxic relationship or friendship, remove objects around the house that maintain ties to the other person. Clear out things that may leave you still energetically linked to that other person - such as gifts they've given you that are still around the house. Remove those energetic links by getting rid of the items. Don't just shove them in a closet. Donate them or throw them away. Once you have, replace them with items that invite positive energy - such as crystals, aromatherapy diffusers, photos of beautiful landscapes, or anything that makes you feel positive, happy, and whole.
Cleansing Your Environment: Once you have created an environment that makes you feel healthy, happy, and whole, add objects that invite good energy. I have several in my home, placed where I can see them as a reminder of the positive energy I wish to invite. I love aromatherapy diffusers and a few in places where I spend my most time. I make my own blends. I use a blend of mandarin, cinnamon, and clove in one diffuser, and I use a blend from doTerra called Console in another. I also recommend Himalayan pink salt lamps and/or candle votives, which release ions to improve serotonin levels in the brain and boost energy. I keep those where I work as well as in my Reiki studio.
Creating Positive Energy Flow
Once you have cleansed the energy in your environment, you can create a flow of positive energy throughout your home. How the energy flows throughout your space is important. I once worked with a family whose home had such an awkward layout that the energy came into the house and then just swirled around in the foyer because the house's architectural features and layout didn't allow it to flow freely. There were spots in the house where they had consistent energetic issues (i.e., they felt these were spots where "bad" things always happened.) We were able to help change this energy by placing objects in and around the house to invite the energy to flow throughout and not stagnate.
Inviting positive energy into your home starts with the front door approach to your home. Make the approach attractive and free of debris that may block the energy. Having an attractive front porch also puts you and other visitors in a positive place as they approach your home. Living plants are especially helpful near your front entrance, such as on either side of the steps, and a lovely mat invites the energy inside. A small water feature placed near your front door is also excellent for inviting positive energy into your home. It doesn't need to be anything fancy or expensive - just something that moves water to invite the positive energy.
Indoors, you can place water features in the entryway to help energy continue to flow. You can also use items like wind chimes, which can keep energy from stagnating. Mirrors and crystals can also help direct energy throughout the space or reflect away negative energy. For example, if when you walk in your front door you have a small foyer and then a sharp turn to a staircase, placing a small mirror at an angle facing both the front door and up the staircase can direct the energy you have invited in up the stairs. Likewise, if you feel you have negativity coming towards your home from a neighboring property, you can use a small mirror to reflect that energy away from your home. Wind chimes set up around tight turns in your home can also help to allow the energy to continue to flow. Placing crystals throughout your home, as well as himalayan salt lamps and other items that make you feel positive and joyful can help keep positive energy flowing.
One of the things I recommend doing is, after meditating, walk through your home and make an effort to sense the energy as you move throughout the space. Note where it flows nicely and where it feels stagnant. This is pretty intuitive, so just listen to your inner voice as you do so. Then, sit for a few more moments in meditation after your walk through focusing on the best ways for you to remedy any energy stagnation. Remember, intention is everything here, so there aren't a lot of missteps you can take because it's about creating the energetic environment that is best for YOU and your family. Listen to your inner voice and follow the wisdom it offers.
Sometimes, what really needs cleansing is your energy. It's easy to get trapped into patterns of negative energy and thinking, so personal cleansing rituals can play a meaningful role in helping you re-set so you're on a more positive track. Again, choose a ritual that is meaningful to you. For instance, try cleansing by fire. No - don't light yourself on fire. Instead, write all your negative thoughts or worries on a piece of paper and burn the paper. Then, replace them with a series of more positive affirmations.
A ritual bath may also be valuable for changing personal negative energy patterns to positive. Light candles in your bathroom, turn of the lights, and fill the bathtub with hot water. Add sea salt or Himalayan pink salt and a few drops of an essential oil, such as rosemary. Soak in the bath, imagining all the negativity flowing into the water. Then, pull the plug while you're still in the tub and allow all the negativity to flow down the drain. Once it's gone, get out and dry off. While the water drains, I like to repeat positive affirmations.
You can use any other ceremonial cleansing rituals, as well. For example, cleanse yourself with incense or sage smoke, spritz yourself with an essential oil spray, seek an energy healing treatment with the purpose of clearing negative energy, play a singing bowl and bask in the vibrations of the music, take a dip in the ocean or another natural body of water, or dance in the moonlight. The key is to set the intention in your mind that you are now changing your patterns of negativity for a new, positive energy pattern.
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