The Burning Bowl Ceremony

by Colleen Benelli
First Published – Reiki News Magazine, Winter 2006. Artwork by Gaia Orion.

Download the Article PDF


The New Year is upon us and offers the promise that we can leave behind that which no longer serves us and embrace the opportunity to begin fresh and new. Winter will always bring the North, the cycle on the Medicine Wheel that compels us to look at our core, to give us the chance to release unwanted conditions in our life, to die to the old self, and make room for our new beginnings. Many of us can feel the need to heal through releasing old patterns of some kind. It may be a quiet tap we can hear or it may be the loud and obvious need for change.

Reiki offers gentle and easy healing when we listen to those taps on the shoulder. Our Reiki Guides whisper in our ears, inviting us to grow and offering their help. They participate in our healing efforts according to what we ask for help with. The clarity with which we ask creates the possibility for our Guides to help us manifest what we ask for.

A Reiki Ceremony can open us so we can listen to our hearts and gain clarity. We can then focus on our true intentions and ask for help from our Reiki Guides in a clear and powerful way. A Reiki Burning Bowl Ceremony is a fire ceremony designed to help us listen, become clear in our intentions, release the old habits that get in the way of those intentions, and bring in new habits that can help us accomplish our intentions.

Thich Nhat Hahn teaches us, “If we face our unpleasant feelings with care, affection, and nonviolence, we can transform them into the kind of energy that is healthy and has the capacity to nourish us.”

What is a Burning Bowl Ceremony with Reiki?

The Burning Bowl ceremony is a kind of fire ceremony that has been used in various traditions for a number of years. The Reiki Burning Bowl ceremony involves using Reiki while 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 Creator on the Reiki Bridge of Light. The purpose of the ceremony is to release old patterns, beliefs or experiences, or anything that impedes you from realizing your true self. By sending the old unwanted conditions up to the Creator in the smoke, you clear the way for beginnings. The second part is to focus your attention on what you would like to create in your life, write those intentions on paper, burn that paper, and send your prayers to the Creator to manifest them.

Using Reiki to empower you and the Burning Bowl ceremony invites the conscious loving Universe to the ceremony to assist you. Reiki can help you focus on your enlightened heart to see what is truly in your way of living your best life. It helps you become still so you can hear your authentic self and create intentions that are meaningful and filled with purpose. Reiki will also assist you with your commitment to your intentions by giving you gentle reminders from your Reiki Guides throughout the year.

“There is a place where  words are born of silence, A place where the whispers  of the heart arise.”—RUMI

I use Reiki and Burning Bowl Ceremonies as a healing tool for many different reasons, and I adapt it according to my need. Sometimes it is a group ceremony, sometimes I use it for myself, and some-times I use it for a client during a Reiki treatment.

Here are a few reasons to hold a Reiki Burning Bowl Ceremony:

The Burning Bowl Ceremony can be done at a rehearsal dinner before a wed-ding. The couple burns what they are leaving behind from their single life, what they do not want to take into the mar-riage. The wedding ceremony then is clear and open for the couples new vows and intentions to be brought forth.

I have used this ceremony as a rite of passage for birthdays, change of job or career, graduations and childbirth. It is also a great ceremony for a teenager’s 16th birthday to let go of childish ways and bring in the new age of maturity.

This ceremony can help with the ending of relationships, releasing people or events we have an unhealthy attachment to, including troubling world events, sadness, childhood trauma, accidents or the loss of a pet.

Lately, I have used the ceremony for clients, friends and myself to heal from the death of a loved one. I have had each per-son burn away the hard memories of the passing, and ask for the return of their loving memories.

This ceremony is also perfect for New Year’s resolutions as described below.

Whatever the reason, the format for the ceremony is always the same, but it can be modified to fit your purpose.

The Burning Bowl

I made the Reiki Burning Bowl that I use most often for my ceremonies. It was an easy craft project. It was fun and inexpensive to make. First, I treated myself with Reiki using the Usui Distant Healing symbol to ask my Reiki Guides what the bowl was to look like. Then I went to a thrift store, bought an old wooden salad bowl, cleared and cleaned it, drew the Reiki symbols all over it, and painted it and filled it with Reiki again.

You can use any kind of a bowl that is safe for burning paper. The ceramic bowl in the photograph below was a gift from one of my students. It is also perfect to use as a Reiki Burning Bowl. Always fill you’re the bottom of your bowl with rock salt or earth which will create a safe place for the paper to burn to ashes and place a candle in the middle. I have included more elaborate instructions on how to make a Reiki Burning Bowl on my web-site,

If I have a large group for the ceremony, I create the bowl as a bonfire or use a patio fire pit as in the photo on page 29. I have read of groups using the bottom half of a barbecue as a Burning Bowl for very large groups. It is appropriate to use any style fire container, just prepare and imbue it with Reiki to make it sacred.

Your ceremony can be held indoors or outdoors. In either case, consider fire safety as a priority. Ask participants to burn their prayers one at a time and wait until the paper is mostly burned before the next per-son burns their prayers. If inside, have a fire safe stand or a tile under the bowl to protect your carpet or other surfaces and make sure you are not underneath your smoke detector during the ceremony. Have water in a container or a fire extinguisher handy, or, if you are outside, a garden hose available.

Be prepared to dispose of the ashes appropriately after the ceremony. They will be mixed with the salt or the earth. I usually bury them, spread them or let the wind take them, after I am certain that the ashes are cold.

If you intend to have a Reiki Burning Bowl Ceremony for a large group, prepare for it appropriately. Write the prayers you will use for the ceremony in a book. You may want to dress in ceremonial clothing, set an altar, have flowers and music, make the room feel special and have a potluck feast of gratitude after the ceremony.

Set the space for the ceremony by drawing the Reiki symbols around the room. In particular, invoke the Usui Mental/Emotional symbol “to create a new habit,” and the Usui Distant Healing symbol to create the Reiki Bridge of Light. Then strengthen your own light by drawing a large Usui Power symbol over your body and on each of your chakras. If you are Reiki I and don’t have symbols, simply intend and ask Reiki to fill every part of the ceremony for you.

Have participants form a circle around the burning bowl or fire. Give each person a pencil and two pieces of paper, one for what they want to get rid of and one for what they want to bring in. If they have Reiki, ask them to activate their hands, if not, invoke Reiki on their behalf using the Usui Distant Healing Symbol.

Reiki Burning Bowl Ceremony

  1. Place a candle in the center of your burning bowl. Fill the bowl with rock salt or earth to secure the candle.
  2. Draw all the Reiki symbols to which you are attuned over the bowl. Beam Reiki into the bowl with your hands. Fill your breath with Reiki and the intention that the bowl is sacred and blow Reiki into the center of the bowl. Intend that the bowl and the fire receive the prayers of the people and send them to the light.
  3. Say an invocation to invite Reiki and your Reiki Guides. Invoke the Usui Power and Mental/Emotional symbols. If you have Karuna Reiki® , use Zonar and Halu to release the old cellular connections and state the intention of the ceremony.
  4. Have each participant take a quiet moment to connect to their heart and write on paper their release declarations that which they are leaving behind.
  5. Beam the Usui Distant Healing symbol upward to create a Reiki Bridge of Light to the Creator. Say a prayer and send it to the Creator on the smoke as the paper burns.
  6. Invoke the Usui Mental/Emotional symbol and Harth from Karuna Reiki®. Have each participant take a quiet moment to listen to his or her heart and write their new intentions, empower the new intentions with the Usui Emotion-al/Mental symbol and burn the prayer, sending it to the Creator.
  7. Close the ceremony by thanking Reiki and your Reiki Guides. Say an end-ing prayer and seal the healing with the Usui Power symbol.
  8. Spread the ashes on the ground or bury them, and ask the earth to transform the ashes into nutrients for the earth. Thank the earth for receiving your prayers and all that is no longer needed. Be careful about fire safety. Use water to wet the ashes or be certain they are cool before you spread them.
  9. Reiki your Burning Bowl to clear it of unwanted energy. Be grateful for its service and appreciate it for its work. Take care of your bowl as it is an important healing tool.

New Year’s Resolutions

Part of our New Year’s tradition is to create New Year’s Resolutions. However, the New Year often coincides with the busiest and most difficult time of year to focus on ourselves. The holidays can generate heightened stress and distract us from our true desires and needs, and often we look at our resolutions with detachment or we choose the “standard” changes we think we “should” make. We then implement our resolutions without real power to affect the outcome we would like to create.

This year, give power to your New Year’s resolutions by holding a Burning Bowl Ceremony with Reiki. Any time you use Reiki and hold ceremony with intention, you are declaring your heart and your prayers in a very powerful way. The Universe hears you clearly and answers. Take this opportunity to use Reiki and Ceremony to look seriously at what you would like to change, leave behind, and what life you would like to create in 2007.

In her book, A Gift of Change, Marianne Williamson encourages the reader to use ritual with prayer for change. She says, “A ritual will envelop you in a light that no material force has the power to bestow. It is an outer event that realigns internal forces, lifting them back up to where they came from and where they belong. Holy ritual joins heaven and earth together…Now imagine yourself as you would like to be. Imagine all your weaknesses replaced by strength. And do not stop. Remain in stillness with your eyes closed for as long as you can, for you are conceiving new life. Ask the Spirit of God to come into you and give you birth into the fullness of your possible self.”

New Year’s Resolution Burning Bowl Ceremony with Reiki

Feel free to photocopy the words of the following Reiki Burning Bowl Ceremony, paste them in a book and use them for your ceremony, or modify them to fit your needs. I have written the following instructions for a New Year’s Resolution ceremony for a group, but they can be used during a Reiki treatment for a client or for yourself as well.

Open the ceremony

Invite the sacred beings of love for the participants and create a circle of light for the ceremony.

Invite the participants:  “Please join hands, close your eyes, and join me in prayer. Take several deep breaths and let go of all the busyness it took to get to this ceremony; let go of what you need to do later; let yourself focus and be present for this ceremony. This is a wonderful opportunity to let go, create the new, and put full power into your prayers.”

Say your invocation

“Dear Ones,

I invite the enlightened, sacred ones of all the people here. I welcome the enlightened, ascended Reiki Masters, the Reiki symbols, and our Reiki Guides. I welcome the angels and all of the compassionate Spirit Guides of light and love who are to be in this circle of healing for the people. At this moment in time, let us lift our vibration to the place of purity in our enlightened heart, the place of pure light, love, joy, truth, and beauty. We recognize the pure light in our hearts as the truth of who we really are. We ask for assistance from the Reiki Guides and enlightened beings who are here to help us see clearly, what is in our way of living in our enlightened heart each day. Reveal to us that which needs to be healed and released so that we can remember our true self and manifest in our life that which is deeply meaningful to us. I ask the Reiki Bridge of Light to take what we release and send it to the light to heal. Free it from our thoughts, disconnect us from our negative patterns, and send them home to heal and transform into love. Thank you, Dear Ones, for your support, blessings, gifts, and healing. Thank you to each person here, for choosing to heal, both on your behalf and on behalf of this world. Thank you to all for coming to this ceremony. We are here in pure grace and gratitude.”

Write a Release Declaration

Invoke the Usui Mental/Emotional symbol, and invite the participants: “Take this time to open your hearts, look inside, and write what you want to leave behind, what you want to die to. Look at your fears, regrets, negative thoughts, bad habits, grudges, destructive relationships and any other anchors to the past, and write them down. Please fold the paper, place it between your hands, and say, “I am released from you now. I send you to the light to be healed. I burn my old unwanted ways and send them to God. I am willing to make the changes I need to make to completely release that which is no longer who I am.”

Burn the Prayers

Invoke the Usui Distant Healing Symbol, and invite participants to burn their papers.

Ask the Reiki Guides, “Dear Ones,  please help the people release the burdens and old unwanted habits from their bodies and their lives. I ask you Blessed Ones, to cut the cords attached to the people and to heal their wounds with love. We ask that this healing is powerful and gentle. Thank you for the healing you bring.”

While participants burn their prayers, you can play a meaningful song or music, or some may want to drum or rattle. Beam Reiki to participants as they light their prayers of release. You can cheer for each person or remain in silence during this time. Hold the power of prayer for them. Intend burdens to be lifted and healed as they rise in the smoke and cross on the Reiki Bridge of Light.

Write a Prayer for Resolutions

Again, invoke the Usui Mental/Emotional symbol. Invite participants to: “Close your eyes, look inside your unburdened, radiant heart. Ask your true self to reveal to you what you want to bring forward in your life. Ask for the clarity you need to manifest your divine purpose. What are the gifts you want to express, what do you want to create, who do you want to be. What will bring joy, meaning, love, happiness, and truth, health and prosperity to you?

Join me in asking the enlightened, sacred beings and Reiki Guides to help and guide us in discovering this truth within… Dear Ones, thank you for your help. We receive our healing and whole-ness, we invite our true self, our enlight-ened heart, to reveal its brilliance to us now. From the radiance of our light, we step forward as our path is illuminated before us. We have released that which we do not wish to carry any longer, and a new way is apparent and open. We can perceive what we choose to create in our life. We can create our course to manifestation. Thank You Dear Ones, for helping us with our clarity.”

Invite participants to:  “Please write your resolutions on your piece of paper. Now fold the paper and place it between your hands and say, ‘I receive my blessings now, I create my life with love, confidence, capability, power, and gentleness. I manifest easily and in divine timing. I am grateful and I appreciate the gifts in my life. I remember who I truly am and I walk daily in the radiance of my enlightened heart. I receive my blessings in a powerful and gentle way.’”

Empower the Resolutions

There are several traditions commonly used for this part of the Burning Bowl Ceremony. One custom is to also burn the resolutions in the Burning Bowl and complete the ceremony on the same day. If you choose this tradition, repeat the steps above for burning the paper.

Ask the Reiki Guides; “Beloved Ones, please take the prayers and intentions of our hearts to the heart of God. We are committed to the changes we need to make. Please guide us with wisdom, clarity and ease to the steps of our true paths. Guide us gently Dear Ones, remind us with love to continue manifesting our dreams.”

Another tradition is to have participants write their resolutions and put them in a self-addressed envelope (address the envelopes before the start of the ceremony), and put the envelopes in a box imbued with Reiki and the Usui Men-tal/Emotional symbol; then Reiki the box with all the resolutions in them regularly to continue to empower the resolutions. At the end of six months, send the resolutions to everyone in the mail.

Close the Ceremony

Whenever you conduct a ceremony, it is important to close it with a pray such as this:“Thank you Dear Ones for your blessings. We appreciate your presence and your assistance. We have gratefully asked for your aid and ask that you continue guiding us with wisdom and ease. Thank you Reiki for your gentle way of helping us see the way to creating our authentic lives. I thank each person attending this ceremony for your willingness to heal yourselves and heal the world. I thank the fire for transforming our prayers and carrying them to the Creator. We walk forward in light, love, joy, truth, and beauty, confident and strong, loving and free. We return to our daily life happy and creative, looking for-ward to the future. Thank you, we return your love.”

To participants: “Go now into your lives and manifest your dreams. Live your best life!”

Dispose of the Ashes

Make sure the ashes are safely out. Use water to do this if necessary. Then bury the ashes or spread them in the wind, whichever is feels appropriate. Say a blessing to the Earth thanking her for cleansing the ashes of our prayers.


Letting go of old habits can take time and focus. After the Reiki Burning Bowl Ceremony continue to ask Reiki, particularly the Usui Mental/Emotional symbol, to help you and guide you in making the choices to change the old habits and behaviors that you have released. Ask for help with new habits to replace the old. Commit to your resolutions and receive your blessings with grace and gratitude. Give attention to your dreams; create, and manifest your life with joy!

Colleen Benelli can be reached by email at, by phone at 503.912.0664, on her website at, or on her Facebook page, Reiki Lifestyle-Colleen Benelli. Join Colleen’s monthly ReikiChat™ conversation,

Like this article? Share it with you friends!