I think we do this well at my dojo. Aikido works well as a spiritual practice when it is not engaged in for that purpose.
The instructors clap us in and improvise variations of standard Aikido forms, illustrating whatever point they feel is important. Then students pair up and do whatever they think they just saw. From time to time someone needs to get very technical, other times you are worried about how something feels. Then - at intervals - Saotome Sensei visits the dojo and gives us a fiery "What kind of art you practicing here? You look like modern dance!" lecture and we all try to figure out what that means.
The combination of extemporaneous form and stern, direct, but extremely general guidance from our leader makes day-to-day practice an exoteric component to an annual ritual. It is a mass ritual, to the extent that it is meant to transform each of us at an individual level, that is not a consciously-directed process. I think maybe the overall thing is supposed to bring about stuff that is above the realm of personal transformation on an individual level though. For that reason it is actually pretty inclusive - you don't need to think too hard on it, you just have to show up and do your best, whatever that is.
I really like this! That was beautifully put. Just wanted to say thank you, Cliff!
I really like the example that you give here.
I am not familiar with a prayer during practice - but I can imagine that it will highten everyones level of awareness.
It really sounds like a special dojo - will have a look at the website (it does have a website?).
The web site is http://www.tsubakishrine.org/
And I just wanted to make sure I was clear, the prayers are from people who happen to be visiting the shrine grounds, just as when folks visit a jinja in Japan, offer a few coins, and pray. We just have to ensure there is an unobstructed line between them and the honden.