I love the last week of the year. I feel like so much settles and calms down, giving us a peaceful moment to catch our breath and be more still.
I find myself more and more effected by the hustle energy that leads up to the holidays. It’s then — when the outside world creeps into my mind that my yogic practices come in extra handy to keep me centered and calm. Or at least working toward being centered and calm! Then, once that whole fast paced, 8,000 sale emails a day, extra tasks to do, festive activities not to be missed, scattered and busy (albeit love-filled and truly enjoyable) season passes, it feels like a giant exhale to me.
All nighters filled with clanging glasses and loud horns to ring in the new year are a cherished memory of my past. Though I do love to don a sparkly crown and dance the night away, now once New Year’s Eve rolls around, I’m in the mood for a simple, heartfelt evening spent with my favorite people. There’s still bubbly and delicious food, but I’ve traded the fanfare for something a bit more #inspiredbyyoga.
MY FOUR FAVORITE NEW YEAR’S RITUALS
#1 NEW YEAR’S REFLECTIONS
Taking this time to reflect can bring forth clarity you’ll carry with you in the new year. It can allow you to feel peace within and take mindful actions. And, it can be done simply by the even the busiest among us.
I want to be clear, I’m not talking about taking time to make new year’s resolutions and contemplate all the things you “should have done” in 2017! If that’s where your head is at New Years, I encourage you to stop should-ing on yourself and be here now: in acceptance and grateful for the opportunity of today as well as every opportunity the last 365 days have brought you. Opportunities to be authentically you. Opportunities to expand your capacity to love. Opportunities to connect. Opportunities to be present. Opportunities to learn and grow forward. Opportunities to choose happiness. It would be virtually impossible to take advantage of every opportunity life gives us every moment, but taking time now to reflect on them allows us to really see and benefit from them. Science tells us that mentally reliving or imagining positive events is almost as heart connecting as actually living those moments. Amazing! After reflection, when wonderful opportunities appear again later, we tend to be more aware of them, more ready for them.
So, give up the pressure of New Year’s Resolutions by releasing judgement and embrace New Year’s Reflections! You can do this alone or with a loved one (who probably has some memories of amazing moments of you that you’ve forgotten!).
Here are some of my favorite prompts to reflect upon. See if you can come up with at least one for each of these:
- What have I accomplished?
- What failures gave me something to learn from?
- What's worked?
- What hasn’t worked?
- What have I wished for more of?
- What have I wished for less of?
- What new things did I learn?
- What have I forgotten about that I might like to rekindle?
- Where and when did true happiness bloom in my days?
- What has brought me great joy?
- What am I currently feeling most passionate about?
- What might I like to let go of?
- What were some happy moments of 2017?
- What am I looking forward to in 2018?
#2 HONORING THE EARTH
In our family we like to make a sacred circle around a globe each New Year’s Eve, surrounding it with symbols of each season. We sit together doing a short Vippasana mediation (focusing on our breath) and then I usually guide a little meditation conjuring gratitude for Mother Earth and all her wonders. After that we go around the circle sharing happy memories from, and discussing the brilliance of nature during each season. Last year our friends made a giant crisp rice globe and we even lit a candle in it and sang happy birthday to the earth. I hang out with incredible people!
#3 HAPPINESS/GRATITUDE JARS
A fun tradition among my tribe is making an annual Happiness Jar (or box, or bag, or envelope….). If you don’t already know, a Happiness Jar is a place to keep little reminders of your happiest moments throughout a year. Some people like to write their happiest moment of each day (we say ours nightly at bedtime) and others like to write down something special to remember each week. The notes get dropped into the jar, filling it as the year goes on. On New Year’s Eve/Day it’s fun to go through the notes from last year and read them aloud, reminiscing sweetly.
Additionally, started a few years back by my dear friend, we now like to make a gratitude jar on New Year’s Eve. As with the Happiness Jar, we drop notes of grateful memories from the passing year and one by one we pull them out and read them aloud. Our hearts feel fuller and our spirits glow as each note is read!
#4 MAKING WISHES & SETTING INTENTIONS
You might like also to make lists of wishes or intentions for the upcoming year and share them with each other so you can check in throughout the year and see how those are manifesting. The only rule I set for this is that there is NO pressure, attachment or expectation placed on any wishes or intentions by you or your vision holders! Simply state what’s in your heart now and allow things to unfold naturally, in the ways that feel best in the new year. If it feels right, they can be let go or changed at any time!
Some people like to use flash paper to make their wishes — that nifty stuff you can write on and then light on fire and watch as it floats up and dissipates. A lovely reminder of the impermanence of everything, the importance of letting go of attachment to the outcome, and the sweetness of trusting all is well. I was gifted adorable seed paper this holiday and am looking forward to writing some wishes and intentions on it, planting the pages, and watching them bloom!
Whatever your traditions, may you feel loved and supported from inside and out as you step boldly and welcome this new year into your heart!