The ‘Mental Bonfire’ Technique to Burn Your Desires and Attachments

Image by Okan Caliskan from Pixabay

A simple visualization to feel free in your heart

‘Samsara’ or the cycle of birth and death is a central teaching in most Eastern religions like Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc. Samsara also lays the foundation of the law of cause and effect or simply the law of Karma.

It states that the material world is subject to birth and death (i.e. duality) whereas the soul is indestructible, imperishable, and ever-existing. When a soul incarnates in a body, its actions are affected by past actions, and also affect the future situations the soul will go through — in this incarnation or the next one.

This wandering of a soul in the material world goes through until he reaches final liberation (aka nirvana or moksha).

Now whether you believe in this or not, the cycle will continue. But samsara is not only about living in the delusion of the material world. It’s also about the emotional attachment to life’s circumstances.

These attachments bind us in small and large ways. They keep you bound to the emotional roller coaster of life and dictate your moods daily. On a larger level, they keep your soul from being free.

If “freeing the soul” and “reincarnation” is too much for you, think about it logically.

In every undertaking in life, attachment leads to misery. If you’re too attached to success and lose sleep over it, you can’t achieve it. The person who “makes it” doesn’t stay up all night thinking “Did I make it yet?” Instead, he puts in the work and leaves the rest to fate.

Another form of attachment is that toward things, people, or places. When you’re too attached to your home, spouse, or an expensive vase you bought, you cannot have peace of mind. You’ll always be nervous about the house being robbed, your spouse cheating on you, and the vase breaking.

All these attachments condition our happiness to things being a certain way. And it doesn’t take much spiritual knowledge to realize that life often doesn’t work the way we want it to.

Thus the logical conclusion is this — the less attached we are, the more we can enjoy life without getting caught up in the emotional drama.

Lack of attachment doesn’t mean lack of love. You can love a person, thing, or a place — but if your happiness is conditioned on any of those things being with you, you’re imprisoned by that (person, thing, or place).

The question is, how to let go of that attachment?

A Simple Visualization Technique

The great master Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras, said yoga is the neutralization of the whirlpools of feeling. These vortices of feeling in the heart keep us ever-more attached to the world. Our ego, moreover, is the eye of that vortex. Swami Kriyananda writes, “The ego also rotates in itself, pirouetting constantly in its eagerness for involvement in Maya (cosmic delusion).”

Calming these vortices is the true state of inner freedom that Patanjali describes. The problem is, how can one do that?

Swami Kriyananda gives a simple technique. The first step is to visualize a bonfire in the spiritual eye — it’s the point between the eyebrows, also the esoteric center of concentration and willpower.

In this bonfire, cast one by one every attachment of the heart, every like and dislike, and every desire.

The best time to do this is just before going to bed. Before you begin, relax your body and calm your mind using a few deep breaths. Sit in a comfortable posture and lift your gaze up at the point between the eyebrows (with a relaxed forehead free from tension). Now close your eyes and visualize a bonfire there.

Think of some attachments you might have in your life. Attachment to your house, career, money, family, work, physical possessions, your own body, your good traits, bad traits, friends, partners, etc. Also, scan your day to find any new desire or attachment that may have popped up.

Since attachments are present in the heart chakra, lift them up to the spiritual eye and mentally cast them one by one into the fire. With every act, feel free in your heart.

Feel free of the need to hold on to that attachment. Realize that you can be happy even without them. That true happiness and joy are within you of which these outward manifestations are only reflections.

An alternative

Another alternative given by Swami Kriyananda is to visualize each attachment going out as a string from your heart to the object. If you’re attached to your phone, for instance, visualize a thread joining your heart and the device.

Repeat this for every attachment you want to get rid of. Then mentally visualize taking a pair of scissors and cutting each thread, one by one.

As you do that, also visualize your object of attachment flowing in the air, freeing you of all burden.

Try any one of these techniques daily. At first, you may feel weird, as I did. But soon, as you put your heart into it, you’ll reach a state of sweet freedom even if for a few minutes.

You can also do this throughout the day, as many times as you like. It’s a wonderful tool to make us calm and even-minded in midst of life’s trials. Because once we let go of our attachments, no outer situation can control us; we can be centered within ourselves.

Our attachments and desires are what keeps us bound to the drama of this world. Without them, there’s no link between our ego and our higher Self — the separation of which is the goal of every spiritual path or practice.

Even meditation, having the same purpose, is the ultimate bonfire. Yogananda writes in Autobiography of a Yogi,

The yogi offers his labyrinthine human longings to a monotheistic bonfire dedicated to the unparalleled God. This is indeed the true yogic fire ceremony, in which all past and present desires are fuel consumed by love divine. The Ultimate Flame receives the sacrifice of all human madness, and man is pure of dross.

I can go on and on about this. But what’s the use of it if you never try? Spiritual truths are no different from scientific truths. We all are scientists in the lab of life where the truths are waiting to be tested and realized.

It’s our job to carry those experiments on ourselves and see the kind of results we manifest. The “Mental Bonfire” we talked about is the same — do it yourself and you’ll feel free inside.

I hope you rise above your attachments and begin to find inner joy and unconditional happiness.

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Written on June 15, 2021