By Rev. Stana Knez
Appeared in print: January 7, 2012
Early every year, just after the dust has settled from New Year’s celebrations, writing New Year’s resolutions seems to quickly follow. The resolutions are usually about things like diet, exercise, gossip, criticism, poor financial decisions, judgment or self-defeating habits. Attention is focused on something we haven’t done so well in the past. From my perspective, this kind of attention just puts more energy into the issue, whether our intention is to “fix” it or just feel bad about it.
That’s why I really enjoy, and prefer, doing a burning bowl ritual around the New Year. Burning bowl rituals offer two opportunities. First is to symbolically release the limiting ideas behind the behavior or problem we want to be free of. That is followed by a time to embrace an intention for the new year that’s rooted in spiritual wholeness and expectancy of good in all its forms. An important consideration for me in this is the difference between expectation and expectancy. An expectation, like a resolution, focuses on a specific outcome to the exclusion of other possibilities. Expectancy is wide open and when I think of it in spiritual terms; I recognize that I’m opening myself to the unlimited potential of Infinite Intelligence and Divine Love.
The releasing step starts with observing the tendencies that aren’t life enhancing or no longer serve me. This isn’t about shame or blame; it’s simply an observation of what might be at the root of the things that resolutions address only the symptoms of. I believe the poor choices, weight, fear or bad habits are only an outer expression of an inner feeling or belief. No matter how long the pattern has been around, once recognized I have the opportunity to release it and make room for the new. A few words are written on a small piece of paper that I burn, symbolically allowing it to go up in smoke.
Dr. Ernest Holmes writes in the Science of Mind, “Releasing work, when accompanied by trust in Spirit, automatically lifts us up with impelling forces sweeping everything away, freeing us to receive the new with a grateful heart.”
From this place of being swept clean, I am ready to set an intention for 2012. There’s space in my consciousness now for a new expression of my spiritual potential. I spend time in spiritual practices opening to the feelings, energy or spiritual qualities that can be mindfully considered. I focus on my expectancy of good and anticipate ways I may better express the Divine through my way of living. I have come to trust the Inner Knower through this process, and can feel the shift inside me when the intention is clear. Then I write it out on pretty paper to remind myself of the newness I’ve committed to giving life to this year.
Our annual burning bowl ritual fills me with excitement and anticipation about the New Year as well as my intention to welcome the Divine into the world in new, expansive ways.
Rev. Stäna Knez is the Spiritual Leader of Cascade Center for Spiritual Living (cascade.csl.org) and a member of LIA.