At the beginning of a new year, many of us choose to reflect on the past and look toward the future we want. This is partly because as we face the new year, we also face a natural punctuation point. It is also partly because many of us had time off at the end of the year. This can lead our minds to run to thinking about our lives. Too often this can turn into rumination and negative assessment that leaves us feeling blue and dissatisfied. We might want to make changes, but we don’t know how and even if it’s possible.
I’d like to share a process I’ve used for years that might help kindle a new kind of thinking about the future. And don’t worry that it’s past the New Year! Any time between the winter solstice (December 21) and the Chinese New Year (February 5, 2019) is a great time to tune into the energies of renewal and creation.
Calling in the New Year Through Ritual
I love ritual and process – they can provide simple ways to create meaning and spaciousness in my life that is empowering.
What I do each year is to sit somewhere relaxing and quiet – somewhere I know I won’t be interrupted. You don’t have to be alone. I’ve done this with like-minded friends, and also with my husband and kids. It can be a lovely thing to share with others or do solo. It is up to you.
Bring paper, a candle, some colored pens or pencils, and a bowl.
Start off by lighting a candle. Imagine yourself sitting within a sacred, protected circle, and then set your intention for this process. Give yourself permission to take this time to write, think, feel, deeply listen, and conjure. Remember that this is a space of love and deep compassion.
The ritual has two parts: the first calls to complete the year that has just passed, and the second is to call in the energies for the New Year.
New Year’s Ritual: Part One
Ask yourself the following questions. Don’t censor yourself – write down anything that occurs to you, use your stream of consciousness, and don’t worry about making it legible.
What am I grateful for in 2018?
What did I learn?
What do I want to amplify?
What will I leave behind?
Is there anything else I want to say about 2018?
Once you feel you’ve written all that’s there, place your page or pages in the bowl. Using the candle as the flame, burn what you have written. The past is done! In burning the paper, feel gratitude – but also feel completion. You are consigning what the past into the flames. Depending on the year you just had, you might want to move around and literally shake it off. Do a little dance! Say goodbye to 2018!
New Year’s Ritual: Part Two
When you’re ready, you can start to call in 2019. Sitting quietly, allow yourself to dream and imagine.
Ask yourself the following questions. Write down your answers in colored pens or pencils to help keep your answers from getting too “heavy.” It’s important to do this exercise with a light touch. Your answers will be the murmurings of your own heart speaking to you. You don’t have to show anyone or discuss it with anyone.
What do I want to call in for 2019?
How do I want to feel?
What do I want to learn?
How do I want to evolve and grow?
How will I contribute and serve?
When you’ve finished this, just sit quietly and ground the creative, expansive energy swirling around you for the coming year. Hold loving energy around it. Some of the things you write may be vulnerable, nascent stirrings. You may want to take a few moments to for the answers to set root before the judgment of “reality” sets in.
At this point, when I feel the process is done, I say a thank you to the spirits, ancestors, and life itself. In my heart, I hold all the earth and all beings. I radiate happiness, peace, and joy to all. I then blow out the candle, signaling the ritual is complete and the circle is broken.
Calling in The New Year On Your Own Terms
On New Year’s Eve, I performed the ritual in the evening, and afterward, I lay outside under the starry milky way. Other years I’ve plunged into the surf or enjoyed a lovely cold glass of champagne! There is no wrong way to finish up your year!
You can choose what to do with what you’ve written. I keep my writing for the coming year. Sometimes I reflect on it, sometimes I build on it weeks or months later, and sometimes I just randomly find it in a drawer having forgotten what I wrote.
I’d love to hear about how you set yourself up for the coming year in the comments (below). Do you have a special process? If you try this ritual, I’d love to hear how it worked for you. This is only meant as a guide. Any opportunity to reflect, complete, and create is always worthwhile. It’s one of the amazing things about being human – we can choose where and what we put our attention on.
Cathy Burke helps organizations find and unleash the leadership hidden in their people. She offers programs for organizations and for individuals who want to fulfill their potential. She is a speaker, author, and global change maker. She was a CEO and has worked globally to help end hunger. She is also a lounge room dancer, a lover of dark chocolate, and the author of the book Unlikely Leaders: Lessons in Leadership from the Village Classroom (The Hunger Project, 2014). www.cathyburke.com