We must destroy to create. My intention in saying this is not an endorsement of aggression or violence, but an observation of a fundamental fact of nature. When we truly desire change in our lives, when we crave the transformation of our bodies and minds, we need to burn down our old patterns and habits to make room for the new. We must dramatically and emphatically rid ourselves of that which no longer serves us. Sometimes things need to fall apart before they can come back together in a more positive and substantial way. When you burn something, you transform it – it is a form of alchemy.
Now, what you need to throw into the fire could be a bad habit, an addictive behavior, a toxic friendship, or a negative thought pattern – anything that holds you back from being your greatest self. I remember Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps saying that whenever someone insulted or harassed him, he used it as fuel to feed his practice. Whatever came at him he was able to alchemize. These transformed experiences nourished the soil of his practice.
There are fire rituals in virtually every spiritual tradition. Fire symbolizes memory, alchemy, disintegration, and transformation. In Anusara Yoga we begin every class with the mantra Om Namah Shivaya, which can sometimes be interpreted as: I honor Shiva, the great Destroyer. The Shiva we refer to is our own inner light, our own inner fire. This light is luminous and powerful, beautiful and frightening. When, through our practice, we tend to the inner flame, burning away that negative habit – that destructive tendency – that nagging doubt, we clear our inner landscape, creating a fertile ground for personal growth.
So what is holding you back from being your greatest self?
What in your life isn’t serving you?
Envision throwing that thing into the fire. Visualize it burning until there is nothing left but ash. Feed the flame. Transform your self.