Mindfulness / Self-Care Activity for All Ages
"The Bowl of Light"
An Ancient Hawaiian Tradition

The Hawaiian people believe that everyone on earth is born with a perfect bowl of light. In this mindfulness / self-care activity a person learns to cherish this bowl of light they will be strong and in sync with the universe and all creatures that inhabit it. This mindfulness / self care activity is the practice of “Pono” in Hawaiian culture. If a person does not take care of their personal bowl of light they will be fearful, anxious, and full of worry and doubt. 

The mindfulness / self-care activity is called the “Bowl of Light” begins with a beautiful bowl and a handful of rocks. For this mindfulness / self-care activity when someone has a negative thought, negative interaction, or reacts to something with fear instead of love the person must add a rock to the bowl. Each time a rock is added to the bowl light is lost and the rocks block the light. The concept is that light and stone cannot occupy the same space. Basically this mindfulness / self care activity translates to the meaning that love and fear cannot occupy the same space.

If the bowl becomes full of rocks the person will not be able to fully grow and develop in love, but in fear and darkness. However, if the mindfulness / self care Bowl of Light becomes full of rocks one can make the choice to stop the stones from blocking the light. The Hawaiian Elders often gave their grandchildren a Bowl of Light and taught them self care and mindfulness by emptying the bowl at the end of the day and allow the light to shine through. By doing this the Hawaiian Elders helped their grandchildren to become aware of their thoughts and actions by analyzing each stone placed in the Bowl of Light. This taught the children how to take responsibility for their behavior, actions, and cognitions. 


If one’s “Bowl of Light” is full of stones the person should take responsibility, meditate, and ask forgiveness for the stone. Basically, you see how the stones weigh the bowl down and block the light. Using mindfulness one sees that they have become a “stone” due to their thoughts and actions and admits that they do not want to be a “stone” the next day. The goal is to have fewer stones the following day and one has learned from the stone being a burden to leading a life of love and light.


Directions for the Mindfulness / Self Care Practice of the Bowl of Light:


  1. Find a beautiful bowl that is clear and allows the light to come in. Also chose some stones of different sizes (I use stones that are not very pretty to look at). Obviously the smaller stones will represent a smaller negative emotion or behavior. While the larger stone will represent a bigger negative emotion, or behavior.
  2.  Throughout your day become aware of your thoughts and actions. Add a stone if you have a negative thought, are rude to someone, or hurtful to someone. This is mindfulness.
  3.  Evaluate your bowl at the end of each day. Look at each stone and try to recall what happened when you added the stone. Take responsibility for the stone and ask forgiveness for your actions. Let the stones teach you how to be a better person. Actually this is self care along with mindfulness.
  4. Empty the stones and try again the next day. With every interaction you come into contact with make the choice of adding a stone, or not adding a stone. The goal is to have as few stones as possible and not be a burden to the stone.
  5. Practice this mindfulness / self care activity daily and you will become more aware of each interaction you have and hopefully you will choose to not add stones to your bowl.

Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.

*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed  mental health professional immediately.

"Beyond Art Therapy" is the concept from Dr. Stangline that combines all creative fields in therapy. It is not the traditional "art therapy" but goes beyond to include sand tray therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, meditation, color therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a vast majority of other therapies.

For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.

Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.

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