One of the most dramatic breakup rituals I have come across is that of performance artist Marina Abramovic and her romantic partner, Ulay, who ended their 12 year relationship on the Great Wall of China. She started walking the wall at The Yellow Sea and he started at The Gobi Desert. They walked toward one another for three months, and when they finally met in the middle, they tearfully embraced and said goodbye.
On reflecting upon this experience Marina said, “People put so much effort into starting a relationship and so little effort into ending one.”
The Great Wall was built over the course of several centuries to protect the Chinese Empire. Thousands of miles of stone, brick, wood and mud were used to create this massive defense system that traverses through desert, and forest and across hill and valley.
Everyone in relationship has spent time building defense systems, whether they be large or small. Even the healthiest of couples sometimes encounter walls between them. During their breakup ritual, Marina and Ulay took the time to mindfully familiarize themselves with these walls. They spent time contemplating their defenses.
Their experience was made into a movie called. Lovers: The Great Wall Walk. As Marina climbs the steep steps of the wall you hear her compare the wall to a dragon.
“I climb the dragon’s back. I can feel his spine, his bloodstream pulsing under my feet.
It is so hard at times that no thoughts are possible. My mind can only think on the next
step up. Wall, and yet more wall…again more wall. Here and never ending.”
But she does eventually reach the end of her journey, both the end of her three month trek, and the end of her relationship.
In reading comments on this movie I came across this one. “How many people will you ever meet in a lifetime that will be willing or understand the need to walk The Great Wall of China JUST to say goodbye and breakup? I don’t even know anyone who would walk from one end of the street and meet me in the middle just to break up! ”
It’s true. There are probably not many people willing to walk for three months to end to end their relationship. But what would you be willing to do? How can you find a way to familiarize your self with your walls and defense systems? If you don’t take the time to do this, your relationship won’t really end. It will continue to haunt you even if you no longer see or interact with your ex.
As indicated by their very name, break ups leave us a little broken. There are wounds that need healing, and these wounds require sufficient time and attention in order to heal properly.
So why do we need to take the time to create and experience a ritual? Because we can’t think our way out of pain from our past. Our experiences involve more than our thoughts. Smell, sound, sight, taste, touch…our senses absorb our experiences deep into the cells of our bodies.
Creating a ritual that occurs in a significant space, and that includes symbolic objects, relevant foods and meaningful movement calls forth these experiences stuck in our cells and buried deep in the fibers of our muscle memory. It allows us to break through any emotional blockages and release stagnant energy.
If we take the time to mindfully move out of a relationship, rather than feeling like a failure…a break up can serve as a rite of passage. Instead of feeling a sense of defeat, we can know that our relationship stands as another step we took toward a higher state of development. We can then cherish the wisdom and experience gathered and use it as we weave a more joyful future.
Call now for a free 15 minute ritual consultation.
949 648 1109
I can help you create rituals that release relationships of the past, so that your whole self…your mind and all of your senses are fully engaged and present to relationship in the present.