Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Preparing for a new year...

Such a rich subject!  At no time in the average year do we review ourselves and our lives like the beginning of the New Year. It is a time filled with hope and, often, a certain amount of angst. And so, to tip the scales toward a better year, we try to figure out what we did wrong last year, and how we can correct it…
If I were to just write from the heart, I would tell you that you are blessed, and you shouldn’t besmirch God’s wonderful creative power by thinking of yourself as wrong or anything less than the magnificent creation you are! Great thought, and true, but most of us need help getting over the hump of how we see ourselves…and that’s where New Years’ Resolutions often pick up the beat. “I will lose twenty pounds” (my personal favorite) points us in the direction of self-improvement, but lacks the ability by itself to get there. For that you need a different approach…something positive, life-affirming, healthy in mind and body, and often something new, a new way of looking at yourself that will avoid the familiar roadblocks.
I have been fortunate in the last few years to participate in Burning Bowl Ceremonies…often a part of Unity churches over the New Year, these ceremonies give us the opportunity to step beyond thoughts which no longer serve us in a ritual that acts as support for our endeavor. Burning Bowls are often paired with White Stone Ceremonies, which replace negative thoughts with positive direction.  The two ceremonies act as rituals of denials and affirmations, a pairing which is extremely important in this process.
We will discuss White Stones later; in the meantime, let me give you a moment of help toward your own personal Burning Bowl ceremony, particularly if none is available locally, or if you simply wish to grapple with such things in private. For a ceremony, you will need pencil, paper, and a source of fire that is safe and easily contained. A fireplace or fireproof bowl will do. Having a friend present is also important. Yes, you can do without these things, but there is an element to the ritual itself and the support of a friend that can make the difference. Give it a try, after all, you’ve probably talked to yourself about these same things in the past without success. The safest approach is to have one person do it while the other waits in a state of loving attention.
To begin, write on a piece of paper, “My intent is to uncover that in my mind which no longer serves me.”  You notice I said, “…in my mind.” This is not about someone else. Your intent is to uncover what in you is a response to your world which no longer works. Your response creates your world, no one else can do that.
The next step is to center yourself in quiet, deep relaxation. If you meditate, enter a state of meditation. As your mind quiets, let the intent you wrote out come front and center…when thoughts arise, or words, explore them gently. Ask them what purpose they served you in the past. Accept that these thoughts may no longer be useful. Write them down. When you are ready, place them in the bowl or fireplace and burn them, releasing the thoughts, and blessing them on their way. Then bring yourself fully present, anticipating new directions.
Now your friend goes through the ritual, while you wait with loving attention.  After, if you wish, talk with your friend about what you let go of…not necessary, but helpful sometimes.
Denials, such as in this exercise, are most helpful when replaced by positive actions and affirmations. December 10th’s post describes some of these. White Stone ceremonies, claiming a new reality, can be part of them.  Through these, we can take the opportunity – and the chance – to be in action that marvelous God-person we really are.
Blessings to you on this journey. Its worth it.

Inspirations you might want to look at:  Mindy Audlin’s videos on http://whatifitallgoesrightbook.com/ and Robert Marston’s site (see Favorite Websites) has really had some fabulous inspirations lately as well. Look over the last few days in particular.

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