“Burning Bowl Ceremony” with Rev. Melanie Eyre
Join us this Sunday for our annual Burning Bowl Ceremony, where we symbolically release the feelings, fears, doubts and judgments that keep us from our highest good, and set our intention to enter the new year with open hearts and minds.
A revised transcript of this week’s talk is provided below for the Deaf and hard of hearing, including prayers, readings and songs.
Welcome, and I hope you all had a happy and peaceful Christmas, and thanks to all who joined us on our Christmas Eve celebration. It was very special, especially the wonderful music by our One World band and a special song by Tom and Megan Olsen.
Today we’re going to share our Burning Bowl Ceremony. Again, like many of our traditions, it’s going to be different this year because we are remote. However, what matters in our rituals, whatever they are, is the intention we bring, the awareness and heart we bring. In this ritual today, both old and new, we may find new meaning and understanding.
As I mentioned last week, today marks the first day of Kwanzaa, which begins today and continues through January 1. I wish you all a joyous Kwanzaa, and I’d like to speak a little about this holiday.
For those unfamiliar with this festival, the Kwanzaa celebration was conceived and begun in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga as an African-American celebration of identity, history, and collective purpose. In this year of Black Lives Matter, the festival of Kwanzaa has special meaning for all of us as we work to bring about racial equity, healing, and justice.
The word Kwanzaa means “first”, signifying first fruits, or harvesting. During the seven days of Kwanzaa, celebrants focus on the seven principles of Kwanzaa – unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, sharing, creativity, and faith. What a wonderful opportunity to remember and honor these principles every year.
As I reflected on Kwanzaa, it struck me that these principles can only enrich the ceremony we’re doing here today. The energy of Kwanzaa aligns so well with our ritual of awareness, release and growth. It is a time of personal assessment and recommitment to living your highest and best, individually and in community. This holiday makes us all richer.
Today, in our Burning bowl ceremony, we are going to create a space for us to release and lighten, making room for what is to come. We will lay down those attitudes, habits, assumptions, fears, or false beliefs that no longer move us forward, and perhaps that hold us back. We celebrate this time of renewal. We will consciously create the space for renewal, for new vision in this brand new year.
We’ll then shift and look ahead. We’ll take the time to listen to our hearts for our true intentions, desires, hopes for the coming year. During a time of meditation, we will breathe and listen, gaining clarity and awareness for what our hearts hold for 2020. Can we do this remotely? Absolutely. All it takes is your intention, your focus and participation.
What will you need for this ritual? Paper, a pen or pencil. That’s it. You’re going to write down those attitudes, judgments, fears, that no longer serve you, and you’re then going to release them in whatever way works for you, given your space. In years past, when we met together, we’ve burned them, or placed them in water and watched them dissolve. Today, you can rip them up. The means are not important – what matters is your awareness of what has been holding you back, and your willingness to release it.
In the second meditation, after reflection you’ll write what’s ahead for you in this upcoming year of opportunity and awakening.
So let’s open ourselves up to the possibility of this moment, this ritual.
Let’s begin with a time of prayer, bringing our focus and attention to this place and this time. What do I mean when I say this place? The place you are in, each of you. Wherever you are – bring your attention to it.
Beloved Spirit, source of all love, awareness, and awakening, we are grateful for this time together. We bring our minds and our focus here, and now. As we breathe, as we quiet our minds, we release all that has gone before this moment. We let it go, letting our minds rest, knowing that there is nothing we need to do here and now other than breathe, and be. We open our hearts to the presence of spirit and source, warming us, supporting us, leading us into a deeper knowing and ever awakening. Bless this beloved community. Let us take this time to deepen our awareness of the holy all around us, in us, as us. We are open, we are willing, and we are blessed. Thank you God. And so it is, and so we say, Amen.Rev. Melanie Eyre
Many faith traditions include the image of a journey– the Buddha leaves his home and family and travels the roads for six years seeking enlightenment. Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus, who through his life and message teaches us the power of our own connection with the divine. The Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years as they travel from slavery in exile to a new home. And like the most enlightened in the world’s faith traditions, each of us is on a journey of growth, understanding, learning and unlearning.
As we travel, we acquire new possessions, new ideas, and we lay aside those ideas and judgments we no longer need. The Buddha taught that the boat is needed to cross the river, but it becomes a burden if you then carry it on your back as you continue on dry land.
Through the years we have developed attitudes, judgments, beliefs, assumptions that perhaps served us then, but no longer do. Yet we continue to carry them, often not even conscious of the burdens they add. We don’t realize how light we will be, how spacious our worlds will become, when we lay them down, when we make room for new understanding waiting to unfold.
The New Year offers us the promise to begin fresh and new. Many of us feel the need to heal through releasing old patterns. How do they show up? Do you find the same situation that keeps coming up in your life?
The Burning Bowl ceremony is a time for us to consciously identify those attitudes, judgments, fears, resentments or false beliefs that we carry needlessly, and to lay them down, to release them. The fire we typically use is a symbol of transformation. As the phoenix rises reborn from the ashes, so are we given new life, new vision, as we surrender our old understanding to make room for new wisdom and new experience. Actual fire isn’t necessary – it’s a wonderful image but in our remote setting not practical for each of us. The release is in your heart, and whatever actions you take will have meaning.
This ceremony may be especially valuable this year, after this tumultuous 2020. It has been such a journey, such a roller coaster, for so many. As you continue to breathe deeply, in and out, just sit with the consciousness of this year. What in your heart burdens you, that you can release? Next year will be different, in ways we perhaps can anticipate and in many we can’t. What do you need to release from this challenging year, so that you can welcome this new year, with openness, friendliness, curiosity, joy?
Our first meditation will be one of release. During the meditation, you’ll have the opportunity to write down whatever arises in your consciousness, in your heart, that no longer serves you. As the meditation closes, I’ll invite you to release what you have written, by burning (carefully!) or ripping it up.
Before you release whatever it is you’ve written, sit for a few seconds with awareness, focusing on your intention to release, lighten, and make space. Then release the paper. This ritual, this conscious act of release, has a power of its own that you will carry with you after we are done here.
Our second meditation will be one in which we turn and step into the new year. As Michelangelo said “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” We chip away, we search, we reveal, we find the beauty at our essence. So much of wisdom is the task of unlearning – we discover our true nature, the divine at our source, removing all the false layers that hide it. Our spiritual practices, including this ceremony here today, help us gently remove all that is not source, all that is not us, all that hides our true, divine essence. We quiet our minds, we breathe, and we open our hearts to the wisdom waiting to emerge.
So in this second meditation, we sit with these questions –What are my deepest desires, my intentions for this new year? How will I share my gifts? How will I express? What is foremost on my heart that I want to bring forward in 2020? What truth about myself do I affirm here and now?
This is not a to do list. It’s a deeper question – what will my continued journey look like in this new year? Now that I have released those beliefs, those burdens that have held me back, what is next for me?
After your second meditation, take up some paper again, on which you can write your desires, goals, deepest intentions for 2021. When you are done, you may simply keep them, perhaps place them on your altar or other significant space at home, to use as affirmations throughout the year.
Let us begin with our ceremony of release.
Meditations (5 minutes each)
Burning Bowl ~ Releasing Meditation
I invite you to sit comfortably, resting in your chair. Close your eyes, or soften your gaze. As you breathe in and out, connect with the power of Spirit moving in and through you now. Before you is the fabric of a New Year … ready for your design in whatever way you choose.
As you sit and breathe, listen to the Voice of spirit within you, loving you, guiding you on your perfect path.
Open your heart to an awareness of Spirit’s presence in you, through you, as you. Your heart is open, your minds is receptive to the gifts of this New Year. You still our thoughts so that you may hear your inner voice, which is also the voice of your deepest knowing.
As you continue to breathe, your heart opens to Spirit’s guidance at work in all you do. You perceive the potential of this day and every day to for your light, love and intelligence to flow through us.
Resting in your heartspace, you move to the place of pure light, pure love, pure wisdom. It is that presence we call source, Christ consciousness, the atman, our Buddha nature, God – by whatever name called.
Take a deep breath and move deeper into source, into your heart where your deep knowledge rests, where you feel your deep connection to the divine presence.
Take a moment and rest in that place, breathing in and out.
You are at that shift in energy from one year to the next, from one ending to a new beginning.
With your heart and mind open to divine guidance and wisdom, gently review this past year. As you recall the unfolding of the days, explore the feelings that arise in you. Listen, deeply listen, for any attitude, assumption, experience, fear or belief that keeps arising within you.
Does something keep coming up – a belief about yourself or about others that moves you off balance? A belief that interrupts the peace and harmony that you would have in your life? What belief or attitude no longer serves you? What is no longer valid and may even be holding you back from your highest good? What do you need to release as you move forward into this new year of 2021?
In the silence, listen.
Releasing song and 5 minute meditation
So rest in the place where words are born of silence, the place where whispers of the heart arise. And when you are ready, write down the word or symbol for what you would like to release into the hands of spirit. And when you are ready, simply release the words you’ve written, in whatever way works for you. If you have a safe space, burn it, if you like. If you’d rather, simply rip it up and discard it. (space with music playing)
We now move into our second meditation.
you havereleased that which no longer moves you forward. You release without resentment, without judgment. Many of those feelings, attitudes, beliefs just placed in this bowl served you once, and now simply no longer do. The essence of learning is being able to unlearn, to shed the layers of ego and error that over the years we all have layered over our Divine Light within.
How will your light shine brighter this year? Realize that before you is the fabric of a New Year … ready for your design in whatever way you choose.
You still our thoughts once again, so that you may hear that inner voice, telling you what is your heart’s desire as you move forward on your path of awakening.
You are open to the guidance of source in all we do. You perceive the potential of this day and every day to for divine light, love and intelligence to flow through you.
You rest in the knowing that this is a year of transformation…
A year of beauty, of possibilities, inspiration and promise.
You greet this New Year, aware that you are filled with all the potential for growth, perfection and transformation.
This truth is now living within every cell and fiber of your being. This truth flows through and around your every thought and word.
Ideas that are dormant now will awaken to the promise of this New Year. Friendships will strengthen in this year of transforming power. You are filled with the joy of sharing life’s journey with those you love, and those you have yet to meet. You embrace the joy of each morning.
In this New Year, you know that you are guided and empowered to transform difficulties into steppingstones to mastery. Challenges too are overcome.
You move forward with hope into this New Year. You are filled with peace, inviting growth, expressing gratitude.
In the quiet of this time, write your intentions in this New Year. Begin to communicate your dreams in writing. Look at them in the stillness of your own being.
When you are done, re-read what you have written. Reflect on Spirit’s Truth revealed to you, and be at peace with it.
Intention song and 5 minute meditation
Let’s take a moment to enfold all that we have released and all of our intentions into the loving arms of spirit.
Our burning bowl ritual is done. As you move forward, keep alive the energy of awareness, new growth, and transformation. Thank you.
“I Release” written by Ricki Byars Beckwith
Releasing Meditation Song
“I Release” written Asha Lightbearer
“Ethereal Meditation in D (5 mins)” written by Asha Lightbearer
Intention Meditation Song
“All I Can Be” written Asha Lightbearer
“Ethereal Meditation in D (5 mins)” written by Asha Lightbearer
This service aired on December 27, 2020.