I first encountered a burning bowl ceremony at the Zen Buddhist Temple in Chicago on a New Year’s Eve, probably in or around 2010. It is also common in Native American tradition via the “burden” or “worry basket”. New Thought churches have also hosted burning bowl ceremonies for decades on or around the start of the new year. This is an ancient ritual that has been modernized over the years. It is a wonderful opportunity to release the past and invite in the new.
So, what is a burning bowl ceremony?
Essentially, you write what you want to release from the prior year on a piece of paper and burn it. You may choose to read what you are releasing out loud or simply write it on the paper. Full Moons are also a great time for burning bowl rituals.
What will you need for a burning bowl ritual?
At a minimum, you will want to have a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, a candle, and a fire-proof receptacle for the burned piece of paper. It is also smart to have some water or a fire extinguisher handy, just in case. The burning paper can create a bit of smoke, so be mindful of that. If you really want to get fancy, you can find “wish paper” at stationery stores or online. Wish paper is a very thin paper that, when lit, will quickly burn and then fly in the air as you let it go. It burns so quickly that the fire is out shortly after it leaves your hands.
How do I get the most out of my burning bowl experience?
These ceremonies are best approached with thoughtful intention and an open heart. Begin with a short meditation of silence, contemplating all that you wish to intentionally leave behind. This could be something physical or experienced like extra weight, a relationship, a way of being, a home, or an old habit. It could also be stuck emotions like anger and grief. (Before releasing emotions via this ritual, I also recommend that you spend some time allowing those emotions to move through you, so they can be fully released. If you are not sure how to do this, set up a free consultation or spiritual counseling session with me here and I can walk you through it.)
After releasing what no longer serves you, you now have a fresh container (you!) to call in what you desire for the new year. Then, sit in quiet contemplation and journal your goals, hopes, and dreams for the new year. After writing them down, imagine yourself experiencing all of them. Feel gratitude for having received it. Make a note to envision and give thanks for achieving your goals on a daily or weekly basis. This helps you to stay on track both in action in the world and to energetically pull them to you. Gratitude is a key component to attracting what you want. You want to feel grateful even before you achieve your goals. It pulls them to you with greater ease and power.
An example might be helpful.
You can see a picture here of my setup for my New Year burning bowl experience. For my ceremony, I sit in meditation and contemplate the prior year. What do I want to gently release from the year? (Be careful. Try not to judge yourself for perceived mistakes and shortfalls. We are all human. Do so with an intention of forgiveness.) What didn’t go as well as I had hoped? When I feel ready, I write down things like:
- Anger at the past
- Judgment of others
- Extra pounds accumulated over the year
- Any clinging to past relationships
- Judgment of myself
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Letting fear hold me back
It’s okay to be specific on each item. No one has to see it, even if you are doing this with friends. You can decide ahead of time that whatever you write is private. Or share, if you want. It can be very powerful to speak it aloud as well. Start by saying and/or writing, “I release….”. As you burn the paper, picture all that you have written down releasing from your experience. As it burns, picture all of it evaporating, trusting that the Divine is transmuting the energy and freeing you from it.
I then sit in meditation again, I quiet my mind, focusing on my 2023 word of the year, wholeness. This wholeness relates to my mind, body, and soul. Wholeness to me means knowing my innate value as a being, regardless of what I do or am in the world of form. It also means wholeness and health in my mind and body. It means knowing my Oneness with the Creator. (Crafting your word of the year is another powerful ritual for ringing in the new year. I can help you with that too!) I contemplate wholeness and my goals for the year. How does my worthiness relate to my goals? Knowing my wholeness and corresponding worthiness and value allows me to more fully step into my power and go after and attract my desires and dreams. It means that I stop playing small and really go for it and believe it can happen! I write down my goals in my journal. As an added feature, I also add my goals to my electronic calendar on a weekly basis, so that I am reminded every week and can stay focused.
Live Burning Bowl Option
If you would like to experience a burning bowl ritual in a guided, group setting, please join me on Sunday, January 1, 2023 at the Cityside Spiritual Community in Chicago, where I serve as a remote licensed spiritual practitioner. There are both in-person and online options for the service. I will be attending online. If you join the service online, please say hello in the Facebook or YouTube chat room during service. After service, I will offer prayer to anyone via Zoom. You can find the details for the service and prayer here.
Happy New Year!
Whether you decide to join me at Cityside or plan your own burning bowl experience, I wish you a very happy new year! Blessings to you, all that you release, and all that you have yet to experience.