When we first moved to Columbus in 2012, I had just went through a whirlwind and was about to experience a new one.
I had gone through four years of trying to have a baby and losing pregnancies, searching for optimal health and diet, taking control over my mind, living and saying goodbye to the military life, gaining and losing friendships, and spending a year traveling around the world. I was about to start the journey of being a medical student spouse, starting and running my own business, and following a dream I had for a long time: devoting myself to teaching people how to sing and creating an online business.
2012 was a year that symbolized the culmination of so many difficult, and also thrilling, years that had come before it. When 2013 rolled around, I felt a strong pull to do something to put closure to those years. I didn’t know what I needed to do, but I was ready to shed that layer from myself. It was old and weighing me down. I had grown, but not freed myself from it yet.
After hearing me talk about this, Rob offered me an idea, a ritual of sorts. He suggested that I write everything down that I wanted to release on a piece of paper and then burn it.
It sounded awesome and like exactly what I needed.
So I scheduled a date in our calendar and called it our Closing Ceremony. We actually invited a couple of friends over to join us and ended up having this incredibly deep experience together.
We wrote and we drew our burdens, then we went outside to an outdoor fire pit and shared with each other whatever we felt called to share. There were tears, there was pain, but we all stood as witnesses for each other and it felt sacred and magical. After we each shared, we threw our papers into the fire and we all watched as it went up in flames, turned into ash and disappeared.
The burdens were now gone. We were freed. It was so very, very powerful.
Of course, I’m not claiming that this is a cure-all, but it definitely is a big step in moving forward.
One of the lessons I’ve learned in my life so far is that each person has to find a way to process experiences that have caused them, or others, pain or emotional distress. We each need to find a way to release what is weighing us down – whether that be a specific experience, a relationship, a period of time in one’s life, disturbing emotions, or feeling the lack of something that you want but that hasn’t come to you.
Sometimes we don’t even know what the thing is, we just know that we’ve felt “down” too long and we are ready to transcend it into the next phase of our life.
Ritual is something that has been important to people for thousands of years. A Closing Ceremony is not something popular or routinely done by our society, but I find it to be one of the most important ceremonies that we can have for ourselves. It’s there whenever we need it – for release, for healing, for processing emotions, or for finding new paths and happiness. Whether it’s big things or little things.
So here is the basic structure of what I call a Closing Ceremony:
- Airing what’s happened by writing it down and/or drawing it out.
- Giving voice to it by sharing it with trusted witnesses (not necessary – you can always keep it private)
- Throwing the writings and drawings in a fire.
- Watching it burn and disappear into nothing.
For the first part, I basically journal for however long I need to. I write about what’s bothering me, what has bothered me, and what I know specifically needs addressing. I also write allowing space for deeper stuff to surface.
I write out the things that are sitting there, pulling me down while my body and mind fight to get freed. Sometimes the real stuff comes out easily, sometimes it’s takes a little while for it to surface. I acknowledge it, face it, and put it outside of myself, which is the first step in setting it free.
The next step is the sharing part. I do Closing Ceremonies with Rob and it helps give a voice to it, which is the second stage of setting it free. I’m usually a sobbing mess during this process. It hurts, it’s raw, it’s hard, but it is so incredibly powerful.
The last part of the Ceremony is to release what you’ve written through fire. There is something ancient and strong about this act. In the past, I was able to use a real outdoor fire for this release (which I highly recommend!), but this time, since we live in the apartment and can’t easily jaunt off to the woods, we had to improvise.
Rob said absolutely no burning of anything inside, no matter how “safe” it seemed. Good advice, I’d say! He suggested using the outside grill at the complex. We put aluminum foil over the grate and lit each paper one-by-one. It wasn’t quite the same as seeing it disappear into a fire, but it was still satisfying.
I cannot express how relieving this little ritual is for me and I’m sharing it on the blog today because I hope you’ll give it a try.
It will feel strange, and “out there” from our normal way of thinking about processing experiences and emotions, but I venture to say that our society does a poor job of teaching us any techniques on how to process things. We’re often taught to blame, to get angry, and seek vengeance.
A ceremony like this gives us responsibility and control over ourselves and allows us to make the decision to be in charge of our own well-being. We are no longer a victim. We can work through the painful parts of our life and be our own champion.
So what did I release this time in my Closing Ceremony? Three things:
- Music and Singing. I let go of my past connections to music and all the expectations, doubts, excitements, highs and lows, and relationships I’ve had with it. I am re-inviting music into my life again, fresh and without expectation. If I feel like singing, I will sing without caring whether it sounds good. I will listen to what I want to listen to. I don’t need or want to “prove” anything.
- The “seize each moment, do it all now, and no excuses” mindset that comes with the world of online business. I am done with this for now. I released that pressure and embraced this new direction my life has gone.
- I explored the truth of why I feel unresolved about my first birth experience. I was able to identify some key emotions and feelings, which I was able to address and free. I freed them by saying, “I felt….” then by saying “‘I’m ready to let the go.” I followed it up with inviting in new, positive emotions, “I am ready…I am strong…I re-establish the connection I have with the power that resides within me.”
I released the expectations, the unfilled hopes, and the struggles. I embraced the new and invited in fresh perspectives.
I’m feeling so much better after doing the ceremony. I feel resolved and feel like I can move forward.
I feel at peace with myself again. I feel love for myself again.
I hope you will try this out for yourself and that it will give you some of the peace and freedom that you are searching for. May you be well and happy, as I wish to be well and happy. We’re in this together. *hugs*