Spirituality Matters

By Steven Libowitz   |   December 26, 2019

A Burning Bowl Bye-bye to ’19

Despite the fact that its ministry is in transition, Unity of Santa Barbara will again offer its popular annual releasing ritual known as the Burning Bowl Ceremony on New Year’s Eve in the sanctuary. Burning Bowl is an ancient fire ritual that serves as a symbolic way for people to release old, unwanted conditions, events or limiting beliefs in their lives to clear the way for new beginnings. The sacred healing service honors one’s intention to release ideas, thoughts and habits that no longer serve one’s highest good. Through contemplative music, spoken words and short periods of meditation, participants are guided to put onto a piece of flash paper those unwanted thoughts and feelings from the past and then drop them into the bowl of fire, where they are completed, consumed and released. With Rev. Larry no longer in the picture, transitional Rev. Cathy Norman leads this year’s Burning Bowl Ceremony, which begins at 7 pm. Free admission, love offerings accepted during the service. Unity of Santa Barbara is located at 227 East Arrellaga Street. Call (805) 966-2239 or visit www.santabarbaraunity.org.

Midnight Mindfulness

The American Buddhist Meditation Temple hosts a special silent evening retreat on New Year’s Eve, where participants will practice chanting, seated and walking meditations and take time for reflection with the insight and teachings of Ajahn Kamjahn, a Theravadan Buddhist Monk. Folks will also be able to enjoy Ayurvedic chai and snacks during the 9 pm to 12 midnight event that ends with a 15-minute period of chanting for a Happy New Year. Admission is by heartfelt donation, with all proceeds going to support the American Buddhist Meditation Temple. Limited space is available so please reserve your spot at www.purnamaya.com/events/new-years-eve-meditation-celebration-w-monk-ajahn-kamjahn. American Buddhist Meditation Temple is located at 1251 Orchid Drive. Call (805) 680-9794 or visit www.abuddhisttemple.org.

Meditation at Mahakankala

Mahakankala Buddhist Center offers a special World Peace Meditation shortly after sunset on December 31. Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso leads the early New Year’s Eve session with the idea that together we can create a healthy world with a shift in the way we think and perceive. We make that shift through contemplation, prayer, and meditation, with the collective wish to remove suffering from our world. The 6:30-7:45 pm program includes a guided meditation and prayers to Avalokiteshvara, Buddha of Compassion. This event is free of charge, but donations are always welcome. Mahakankala is at 508 Brinkerhoff Avenue in Santa Barbara. Call (805) 563-6000 or visit www.meditationinsantabarbara.org.

Ecstatic Breathing with Eddie Ellner

Apart from the strictly spiritual sessions, conscious-minded folks can spend the entire last night of the year down at Yoga Soup, the community-minded space that boasts two sizeable studios and a big open area that has couches, books and gifts for sale and lots of space for connecting. Studio founder-owner Eddie Ellner kicks things off with one of his periodic Ecstatic Breathing sessions, which require participants to do nothing more than lay down comfortably and practice guided intentional breathing. Ellner shares the story of how he discovered the practice on Yoga Soup’s website, including the experience that made him a devotee: “Toward the end I experienced a state that I imagined heaven must feel like: conscious, inside a body made of clouds, the veil between your Self and your God permanently lifted. All is well because well is how it is when you stop trying to make it well.” Ellner teams with Luca Cupery for tonight’s breathing practice that includes meditation and some light stretching and features post-session dancing plus “Special Beverages, Sweet Potatoes and Other Really Incredible Short-lived Things.” The 8:30 pm event costs $44 in advance, $55 at the door – “It’s kind of a joke to charge money to breathe but you also get some great finger food, a nice place to be and the good company of fellow voyagers,” Ellner explains.

Ignite 2020 5Rhythms Dance

Kiaora Fox – the Santa Barbara-based 5RTA-certified 5Rhythms Waves level teacher and Ecstatic Dance DJ who recently began teaching weekly 5Rhythms classes on Wednesday evenings in the slot formerly held by the Movement Lab – invites all to celebrate this New Year’s Eve in conscious dance and ritual, lovingly releasing the past year and moving into limitless possibility and creativity. Held by the safe and spacious container of the 5Rhythms® movement practice – administered by Fox and Heeraa Sazevich, a Hawaii-based 5RTA certified 5Rhythms Heartbeat level teacher who is the founder of Ecstatic Dance Hawaii – the event is for those who are willing to let the body lead and move as the intention you are wanting to plant: Abundance, Love, Peace, More Free Time, Authenticity, Commitment to Health, etc. Embodying the intention to let go of past trials and honor joy, participants will catalyze moving forward unencumbered into 2020, together ignite and welcoming what we are calling into our lives, dancing into our bodies and beings the resonance of what will propel us into the New Year. Fox’s mix of “deliciously eclectic music” aims to take you on a deep transformational journey. Light non-alcoholic refreshments will be available during the 9:30 pm-12:30 am dance on New Year’s Eve at Yoga Soup. Admission is $50.

Before the Big Night

Amy Bankoff’s New Moon Ceremony at The Salt Cave (740 State Street) on Friday, December 27, brings another chance to center and align with Mother Nature’s deepest rhythms. Coming together as a community, people share stories and wisdom and experience being heard in a safe, sacred space. Friday’s 5:30-7 pm event features a discussion of the December new moon’s astrological meaning and everyone will be able to anoint their bodies with specific essential oils chosen to amplify the new moon’s energy, before the evening ends with a 30-minute restorative yoga practice designed to create clarity and insight for the future. Call the Salt Cave directly at (805) 963-7258 to reserve a spot, which costs $20.

Taking a Plunge into 2020

Wild Adventure Yoga puts the emphasis on the wild and adventure with a pre-New Year’s Eve event that features a beach walk, flow yoga session and a plunge into the beautiful water off Santa Barbara. Meet at 10 am on Sunday, December 29, under Stearns Wharf on the East Beach side for a stroll to the volleyball courts followed by a flow session led by Sonya Barriere. Then she’ll prepare everyone for the Polar Bear Plunge – running together straight into the ocean – an opportunity to literally cleanse yourself of the last year and anchor intentions for the coming year. Once out of the water, you’ll be greeted with a steaming cup of hot tea. Bring your own mat, blankets, towel, water, comfy and warm clothes and layers to add and subtract, plus any props you might like, backpack to carry things in, shoes good for the beach or easy to slip off for a walk, a mug for tea, beverages, and snacks to share. Suggested donation is $10-$15. Info at www.meetup.com/Wild-Yoga-Santa-Barbara/events/266914094.

Into the outdoors but not so much into diving into the ocean? Ascension Academy has got just the thing to warm you inside and out at that same time on Sunday morning, December 29. Meditation & Breathwork Practice for Beginners and All Levels, beginning at 10 am at Lower Manning Park in Montecito, where the group will be focusing on learning the basic techniques of meditation and breathwork as well as the benefits of a practice, and how we can incorporate meditation and its techniques into our daily lives. Breathwork tuning is followed by a guided meditation before a closing immersive sound healing experience to anchor the peace and healing that was practiced during your meditation. Bing a yoga mat and a meditation cushion to sit on, and dress outside weather appropriate in loose, comfortable clothing. Suggested donation of $10-20.

2020 Vision-ing

Cheri Clampett invites the community to join her for her 25th annual New Year’s Day Visioning Workshop on Wednesday, January 1, at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center (32 East Micheltorena Street). The special workshop is a chance to start the New Year with a three-pronged approach including Yin Yoga, gentle flowing Yoga, and a visioning meditation to release the past year and step into the new. The workshop features essential oils and hands-on adjustments, plus live yoga music and DJ sounds by Avahara. Pre-registration recommended to reserve a spot in the 5-7 pm event, which cost $40. Call (805) 965-6045 or visit www.santabarbarayogacenter.com.


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