I am going to be a first-time grandmother in August. I’m ecstatic about having my first grandchild. One of the first things I will share with my grandson or granddaughter is the “Bowl of Light” story that I learned when I was an alakai, advanced student, of Ho’o pono Pono in Hawaii. My kumu, teacher, said Pali Jae Lee and Koko Willis’s book Tales from the Night Rainbow is an excellent, authentic source for this story and so many others.

In ancient times, in Hawaii and throughout the world, each child born was said to have a Bowl of Perfect Light. If the child was taught to respect and love his or her light, the child would grow in strength and health and could swim with the sharks, fly with the birds, and know and understand all things.

If, however, the child got into pilikia, trouble, with thoughts of fear, worry, doubt, judgment, anger, resentment, envy, or jealousy, he or she would drop a stone into the Bowl of Light, and then some of the light would go out because light and stone cannot occupy the same space.

If the child continued to get stones in the bowl, the light would eventually go out, and the child would become a stone. Just like a stone, the child would no longer grow, nor was he or she capable of movement. However, as soon as the child tired of being a stone, all that was needed was to do kalana, forgive this aspect of himself or herself, and turn the bowl upside down to let the stones fall out. All the light could then shine again and grow even brighter than before.

This was the way the ancient Hawaiian kupuna, grandparents and elders, took care of their mo’opuna, grandchildren. They would give them a bowl each morning, and at the end of the day they would call their grandchildren to their sides and look at how many stones were in their bowls. If it had been a good day, just one or two stones in a bowl, the child was told to simply turn the bowl over. Yet if the bowl was filled with stones, then in addition to turning the bowl over, the child would be told to go into the ocean and wash away all thoughts from the day.

You can apply some strategies from the Bowl of Light concept in order to improve your own life. First, select a bowl—wooden, ceramic, or any vessel that is pleasing to your eye and that will represent your Perfect Light. Next, choose some stones from a store or the beach, or perhaps some rocks from nature. These will represent the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors you know are negative. Then experiment for one day: live in the moment, and become conscious of your thoughts, feelings, and communication with your friends, family, coworkers, customers, and so forth.

For example, if you encounter an aggressive driver on your daily commute, do you take a deep breath and relax, or do you become angry and resentful? If you experience less than satisfactory customer service in a busy store, do you find yourself silently judging or criticizing, or do you remain calm and not become upset?

If you’re not physically able to place a stone or rock in the bowl, you can imagine yourself placing a stone into your bowl as you observe yourself during the day. Finally, at the end of the day, you might arrange to give yourself a quiet, private time to go over each of the stones or rocks you have physically or mentally placed in your bowl.

As you caress or touch each stone, reflect on the significance of each of the stones and physically wash them in water to symbolically cleanse them. Ask yourself the following questions: Did that thought deserve a stone? Am I worried, doubtful, jealous, judgmental, fearful, envious, resentful, or angry about that situation? How might I see it differently and choose a better response the next time I’m experiencing something similar?

Now you can forgive the individuals who hurt your feelings and then forgive yourself for your reaction. Last, dump the bowl over, and let the stones pour out. If you find that one-day experience was beneficial, notice and observe how your reactions and behaviors change after using the bowl and stones for 30 days. You might even choose to log or journal each day and celebrate your little victories as you master and let go and surrender to seeing or hearing differently a situation that in the past would have given you a stone in your bowl.

Another suggestion is to create a chart that records how many stones you had each day. Celebrate when you find five stones or less to empty from your bowl at the end of the day. You might even find yourself singing the African American spiritual “This Little Light of Mine,” as I do when I want to feel empowered. I’m looking forward to teaching my grandchildren that song, in the same way the ancient Hawaiians left spoken legacies for their descendents.

I will tell my beloved grandchild this: many days I find I need to change, to make a better choice in the moment, so I pick up my bowl, turn it upside down, and let the stones roll out. I start over again so the Perfect Light I am can shine even brighter.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways2.html.

Author's Bio: 

Sally K. O’Brien has a master’s degree in speech and for 19 years has been a professional teacher, author, speaker, trainer, and life coach. She’s been a Reiki Master for 10 years and offers tele-seminars for life coaching, memoir writing, and Reiki distant energy healing at http://www.sallykobrien.com. Since moving to Grays Harbor in 2003, Sally has focused on Reiki level trainings, individual-client Reiki sessions, and special memoir writing workshops for women at her location on the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Her spiritual memoir, Love Offerings to the Universe, is available on her Web site and on Amazon.com.