For a while now I have dreamt of bringing together a group of like-minded spirit and moon ladies to celebrate the full moon and give thanks to the Goddess of the Moon for all she has done to support our lives.
Thursday 5 March and my dream came true as a group of my lovely spirit ladies could all come together on the same evening!. I decided to opportune the energy of the full moon and our first full moon gathering by partaking in a burning bowl ceremony. I have done this ceremony a few times now and I have always found it to be a fabulous way of letting go of stuff no longer needed in life. Furthermore, the energy of the full moon encourages “letting go” so it is an ideal time to do this kind of thing.
The theme of “letting go” has been on my mind all week. The mindfulness course has thrown this into my awareness a little, for to live in the moment does involve a certain amount of letting go. Letting go of one’s expectations for the future. And letting go of one’s attachment to past events. This awareness has made it more obvious to me how much of our lives are indeed spent reflecting on the past and planning into the future.
This can lead to all sorts of suffering as we consider how we should have done this or should have done that, or how we will do this or will do that, constantly taking our mind away from the present moment. It can often be very difficult to let go of these thoughts, they can be all consuming, especially the ones that are involved in any decision making. There is a wonderful saying, “let go, and let God in”, makes sense really, if only we can let go to let in…
Needless to say that this is all much easier said than done. Just catching yourself thinking of the past or the future is an achievement in itself, let alone managing to let go of whatever that thought process was going to be. But hey, that in itself a letting go too, the one that judges the self for not managing to do what one intended, that is to say, living in the present moment with mindful awareness!!
I have come to notice some of my own tendencies to self-berate when I do not live up to my own standards and expectations. Silly really as I know that I am not alone in giving myself a hard time. And I guess I have reflected on this a little more so recently not least because of the increased time I have spent studying my mental fluctuations but because a very dear friend of the family has been given only a few months to live and this has made me consider how short our life really is, especially far too short to be unpleasant to oneself.
But even with this awareness it is incredible how much we still take on. I was made very aware of this in the office last week. Someone has asked me to do something, which they could have done themselves and they asked me in such a tone that I confess it hit a nerves and I could not resist making them aware that they could have done it themselves without too much effort.
They apologised and I returned to my desk feeling terrible for there was really no need for me to make the comment, I should just have let it all go from the outset – so what if they could do it themselves, they had asked me to do it, and I should have done it without the need for judgement or drama. Sitting back down at my desk, I commented to my rather wise work colleague that I felt bad about the situation and she responded rather quickly with “ah get over it, I can guarantee he let it go the moment you left the room”.
Time stood still. The penny dropped. Of course! How silly of me, here I was holding on to the past, holding on to an experience that no longer needed to be in my awareness. It was done. Over. And yet I found myself still thinking about it and digesting it later that afternoon and almost laughed out loud when I realised what I was doing. And it is funny to me now but seriously, how often do we do this?!
Well I am sure we all do this quite a bit, digest and mull over and think about our interactions with others and how we should have said this, and we hope they weren’t feeling this, or perhaps we should have done that. Oh my gosh, it is not surprising that we often feel quite exhausted. Our minds with its incessant thinking and judging and evaluating and imaging (yes get that, actually imagining what/why someone has/has not done this) exhausts us, simple as that. All of us in this position just need to take a deep breath in and let it all go. Simple!!
This reminds me of a little story I heard a few years ago…
“One day, two monks set out for a temple in a valley beyond the woods. While cutting a pathway through the woods they came across a choppy stream to cross. There, stood by the bank of the stream, was a beautiful young maiden dressed in silk. She was clearly at a loss as to how to cross without getting muddy and wet.
So, without thinking twice, the elder monk picked her up over his shoulder and waded across to the other side. The younger monk followed in tow.
Upon reaching the other side of the bank the elder monk put her down. The maiden paid her respects and the monks continued on their way to the temple.
As they continued to navigate the forest, the younger monk, still troubled by the stream crossing, said suddenly, “How could you do that? We aren’t even supposed to make eye contact with women let alone pick them up and carry them!”
Without a thought, the elder monk turned to the younger monk and said, “Are you still carrying her? I put her back down on the other side of the stream”.
And with that he turned and led the way through the forest.”
It is a good story – the ability of the first monk to put the needs of another human being before his own spiritual practice, and then be able to just let go of the fact he had done so without feeling guilty or disappointed, is a lesson to us all. Essentially we must try not to allow yesterday’s thoughts to affect today’s progress, because letting go of the past is necessary to truly live today.
So this brings me back to the merits of a burning bowl ceremony, which help us to let go a little of old ways of being or those aspects of our life no longer serving us, so that we can create space to bring in new ways of being. Here is more information on it…
Burning Bowl Ceremony
The Burning Bowl ceremony is a kind of fire ceremony that has been used in various traditions for a number of years.
The Burning Bowl ceremony involves writing the negative conditions that you would like to release from your life on a piece of paper, then burning the paper in the bowl, which turns your prayers to smoke and sends them to the Universe.
The purpose of the ceremony is to release old patterns, beliefs or experiences, or anything that impedes you from realising your true self, moving forward and/or changing things. Essentially by sending the old unwanted conditions up to the Universe in the smoke, you clear the way for new beginnings. It is a very powerful way of letting go so that you can move on… and potentially… feel light and free.
Once you have let go, you therefore create space to let in. Thus the second part of the ceremony is to focus your attention on what you would like to create in your life, write those intentions on paper, put them in an envelope, and put the envelope away for at least a year. Just leave it be and let your prayers go to the Universe to manifest them.
If you would like to join in with the Burning bowl ceremony then please use one of the attached pieces of paper to write down those negative conditions you would like to release from your life and bring with you to the fire on Saturday morning and watch it burn….then let go, no need to think more on it.
Instead – and perhaps wait until the end of the retreat when you have more clarity - use the other piece of paper to write what you would like to create in your life. Put your name and the date on the piece of paper and maybe write “with gratitude and thanks to the Universe” or something similar and then put in the envelope and make a note not to open it for at least a year. Take it home, put it in a drawer and forget about it…until you find it in at least a year’s time…
“There is a place where words are born of silence, A place where the whispers of the heart arise.”—RUMI