The end of a year is a great time to take a personal inventory, to determine how your life is stacking up against your plans and expectations for yourself. Although the new year eagerly awaits, what you carry forward into the new year has an impact on what you will receive from it.
The ritual of Burning Bowl is an ancient, sacred ceremony of releasing that which no longer serves you and makes room in your mind for something new to come in. I offer a Burning Bowl experience every year in the churches and groups I serve.
If you can’t join me in person in Georgia (January 1st), allow me to walk you through the steps so you can have your own ritual wherever you are.
Choose a time when you can pause from the busyness of life and think about the year that has passed. Perhaps play soft music and sit down with your journal or tablet. Look back at the year that is ending. Look at it with scrutiny and objectivity. What didn’t work well for you? What drained your energy? What held you back from being the best you desire to be?
Check in with your inner emotional barometer. What are the incomplete and unresolved issues and memories from the past that drag you down? Do you get knotted up over worries and concerns for the future?
What might you be holding onto that is choking off your very life energy? What is blocking your creativity? Do you have an unresolved conflict with a loved one or close friend that gnaws at your mind? Is there someone you need to forgive? Is there a relationship you need to end? Do you have eating or drinking habits that harm your body? Do you have limiting beliefs about your work or your money? Do you use the same excuses to keep you from living the life you really desire?
The new year will only be different for you if you commit to being different. After you have reflected on the above questions and have been totally honest with yourself, take a small slip of paper and write a word or a short phrase that represents whatever you are willing to release from your life. Don’t write a book about your problems. You can do that in your journal if you need to vent. For the ritual of burning, you only need a small symbol.
As you prepare to write your word, pray this prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
This ritual activity is not about memorializing the past, nor is it a time of wishful thinking for the future. It is a definite time of cleansing the old and infilling the new. It is about making a concrete decision to live differently than you have lived before.
Once you have identified what you want to release, use a lighted candle or a match to ignite your slip of paper. You can release it into the toilet, a bucket of sand, or a fire pit or fireplace. As you watch the paper burn, you may wish to sing a song of release. I most often use “I Am Free; I Am Unlimited.”
Remember to NOT hold onto the paper once you light it! You want release, not burns! And once you have made your ritual of release, don’t pick up the thought, the worry, the situation, or the habit. Make a definite decision to be done and complete.