It took me years to discover that it doesn’t take an act of Congress to create or justify a celebration, and with it, an appropriate ceremony. Oh, certainly we have our share of national, state and local holidays to celebrate, most of which have some sort of ritual attached. Then there are church ceremonies and civic ceremonies and family ceremonies to commemorate weddings and birthdays and christenings and retirements and promotions and even funerals.
But, what about private ceremonies, personal ceremonies to celebrate personal accomplishments, or to signify meaningful life changes? Part of the process of self-realization is the discovery of the significance of our own progress through life.
A private ceremony that I particularly enjoy, and find really helps me to take significant steps forward into new territory is the “Ceremony of the Burning Bowl.” You can create a burning bowl to celebrate any significant turn in your life – a new job, a new relationship, a new home, or anything that reads in your heart as a fresh start. The ideal time to perform this ceremony is when you make the conscious decision to shift. By creating a Burning Bowl at the time of decision, you wipe away those obstacles that have held you back in the past.
A Burning Bowl is a cleansing by fire and it’s pretty powerful. You can perform one at any time of year, but best to do it early in the day, because releasing large amounts of negative energy may interrupt your normal sleep pattern. If you get the urge to do a burning bowl at midnight, don’t – unless you’re prepared to stay up and clean the house from top to bottom.
When we are stepping into something new, we want to cleanse ourselves, body, mind and Spirit, of past experiences that weren’t pleasant, people we have released from our lives, habits that have inhibited us; in short, any negative energy that might get in our way from then on.
The process is very simple. Sit quietly and think about what events led up to the change you want to celebrate. You want to include anything you would call unpleasant, hurtful, disappointing or sad. This part of the ritual can be painful, but you can’t rid yourself of negative energy without acknowledging that it is a part of you, so think of it as a necessary means to an end. Start listing the people, places, incidents and things that you want to see gone from your life experience from now on.
(Here’s a little secret. If you would like to eliminate the behaviors of a certain person but not necessarily the person him or herself, list the negative behaviors of that person, such as: excessive drinking, smoking, rage, neglect; discounting so that only those negative behaviors or characteristics will go into your Burning Bowl.)
When your list is complete, read it over carefully. Make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Feel the negativity long enough to create a strong urge to release it all, once and for all. Then cut or tear the paper into little tiny pieces.
The bowl you select for the ceremony should be fireproof and large enough so that no paper is above the lip or falling off the edges. Place the bowl in a safe place – out of doors and away from anything that could catch fire or indoors in a deep sink or fireplace. (If you’re going to burn indoors, make sure the room is well ventilated.) Then set fire to the paper in the bowl and at the same time, mentally send all those negative events and emotions soaring out into the Universe to be returned as positive energy. Use a long handled spoon or fork to keep air moving through the paper until it is completely burned and there is only ash in the bottom of the bowl. Bless the ash and also shake away any of the energy from your body that may have clung to you in the burning process.
You should feel energized and several dozen pounds lighter. That in itself is cause for celebration. The incineration is complete. However, there is truth in the teaching that the Universe abhors a vacuum. So this is the time for the celebration.
The best way to celebrate yourself after a Burning Bowl is to write yourself a joy-filled letter. Whatever the date on which you perform the Burning Bowl ceremony, date the letter one year hence. And then write to yourself about all the wonderful things that happened (in your imagination of course) to you in the year between now and then, just as if they had already happened.
For example, tell yourself how much you love your new job and that you got a promotion after the first three months. Report that your new relationship is thriving; you never knew you could share so many wonderful things with another like-minded/like-hearted human being. Talk about how you traveled to Paris and while you were there, you bought a Dior dress. Be specific, be honest about your fondest dreams, describe them accurately and in detail and feel the joy of their accomplishment. When you’re done, read the letter three times, out loud if that is possible. Then tuck it away so that you won’t be tempted to look at it for at least six months. You’ve told the Universe what you want. Now trust it to provide.
Remember, first incinerate – release the old, the negative, and the useless. Then celebrate the new, the positive, and the desired. It’s really cool to stand on ceremony and celebrate yourself – often. Try it – you’re going to love the way it makes you feel.
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