Burn away the negative

(c) FreeFoto.com

The mystery and wonder of fire. Photo supplied by FreeFoto.com

We forget sometimes the unprecedented miracle that occurred when humankind first discovered fire—and learned how to make it and preserve it. What a long way we’ve come today to nuclear power, wireless connectivity and the extraordinary power of the Internet.

But the magic of fire is as mysterious and moving as ever. Meditators recommend gazing at a candle flame to set your mind free of daily disturbances. Working fireplaces command a premium on the housing market—despite our radiators, forced air and electric heat sources, there’s no denying the warmth and comfort a fireplace can bring. Winter solstice celebrations center on using fire to consume the negative things we want to forget about from our past year; acorns represent the great good in store for the year ahead.

As with the winter solstice, fire is an important part of celebrating the new year in many places. In Scotland, where for ancient religious reasons people were for many decades prohibited from celebrating Christmas, they celebrate Hogmanay with fire on new year’s eve.

I got together with another single working woman friend last night and ate hummus and peppers and drank wine while we talked the evening away. We’d already done the fire ceremony on the solstice but we talked about doing the ritual regularly as a way of reminding ourselves to let go of the unwanted.

So whether you went out and partied last night or stayed home—with or without a friend or a fireplace—think how good it will feel to truly release any negative thoughts and energy from this past year. Write those things down on slips of paper, then light a candle and let the fire burn away those thoughts, habits, memories. If you’re wanting to change a habit, make sure you’ve got a different one to put in its place. We are, after all, creatures of habit and if we drop one, there’ll be a big hole in our routine. So better fill it with something better. Naturally, that’s easier said than done. Here’s a cute post from the PsyBlog on how long it takes to form a habit.

Like, let’s see, I spent nearly 30 years doing aerobics almost every morning of the week. In the last 10 months I’ve gotten out of the habit because the chiropractor asked me to stop (we’ve been working on repairing and rejuvenating my body after hip replacement surgery). Hmmm. I’ve got at least 61 days left to get in the habit of my newly allowed exercises…

Here’s a lighthearted bit to usher in the spirit of 2011. Hope it brings a small smile on this first day of what promises to be a momentous new year for you and for me—and the fifth anniversary of SWWAN!

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2 Responses to “Burn away the negative”


  • Comment from Chris King

    Barbara, You know – or should know how much I enjoy your articles. And I always learn so much from you. Hope to see you this year in Cleveland.
    Happy New Year – it will be a great one!

  • Comment from Barbara Payne

    Thanks much, Chris. It’s great to know that a busy single working woman like yourself takes time to read and to comment. Was just wondering out loud (well, in an email) to a friend yesterday what happens to the thoughts we express, both on paper and in cyberspace. I like knowing for sure that I’m not always just talking to myself!

    Happy New Year to you and all your many readers.


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