Well, well. My statement that I purchased a rosary caused a bit of an uproar. “Please don’t tell me you’re praying the rosary!”  and “What are you gonna do with that rosary??? It’s almost scary to think of holding one!” were fairly typical replies. No, I’m not praying the rosary. But I did buy one. Here’s how that came about.

But first, let me preface this tale. I know for many of you some phrases I use — Hail Mary, Catholic Worker — have little or no meaning. I’m sorry about that. You’ll have to look them up. Because I’m writing this in a hurry. One of the replies I received asked me to please hurry and tell the rosary story, “because I don’t have a lot of time left.” Dear one, may your onward journey be filled with wonder and awe. Namaste.

Okay, the rosary. I’d been going through a spell of being distracted during my 15 minutes of Breath and Water breathing every morning. You know how it goes — I’d think about the day’s errands, about a new Signal Fire, about whether the garden needed water.  I’d worry about this, I’d wonder about that. One of the things I found myself thinking about was ritual, and the benefits of using ritual to experience as physical reality that which is mainly thought or intent. Then, catching my mind wandering, I wondered if perhaps ritual could help me better ground my breathing practice. And it came to me that a rosary would do it. Interesting. I returned to my breathing, and when I was done I went online and bought a rosary. Then, when that rosary came, I wondered what to do with it.

I found that I remembered all the prayers that went with it, so I thought maybe I would rewrite some of them and use it in that way. I did take a stab at rewriting the prayers, but that just didn’t seem to be the answer.

So here’s how I use my rosary. I use it to ground my breathing in the here and now. Each bead is a full breath, inhale and exhale. Move my fingers along to the next bead, full inhale and exhale. On to the next, and so on, clear around to where I began — about 60 beads, 60 complete breaths. It really does help to keep me from wandering off.

The “Hail, Mary” prayer eventually morphed into “Hail, all creation. Namaste.” When my mind wants to wander, I direct it to that prayer for a breath or two. I like it!

This works for me for the following reasons, and probably more.

* The rosary itself is aesthetically pleasing to me — blue wooden beads strung on black cord; large enough beads to easily find them with my fingers; small enough overall to take up little space on my desk; lightweight.

* I removed the crucifix, although I left the medal of what I’m calling the divine feminine in place.

* Being a nonbeliever since young, I have very little emotion, negative or positive, associated with the rosary, yet it is a familiar object.

* It pleases me to pluck something from religious ritual and make it my own.

* I am aware of the millions who have prayed the rosary over time, and I love them as I proceed from bead to bead.

* Staying grounded in the here and now through using the rosary, I experience delighted gratitude with each breath.

I’m not suggesting that you all should go out and find a rosary. But play with the idea of bringing ritual to your Breath and Water practice. You might find something that works for you. Coincidentally, even as I was writing this, I received a note from a reader telling about the ritual they use with their Breath and Water breathing! That’s for next time. Maybe you’ve created rituals around your practice. Please share.

In case you’re wondering, I bought the rosary from a site called The Catholic Woodworker. Actually, I thought I was buying it from the Catholic Worker, which really did please me. It wasn’t until I received the order confirmation that I realized that I’d misread!