Sonia’s Favorite Practice for Ushering in the New Year

…and I slowly and ceremoniously burn them.

Hello, and Happy New Year!

Does anybody else feel like 2017 flew by? Sometimes I feel like the older I get, the more quickly the years pass. It’s crazy. I’ve always really liked New Year, though. I love how everyone gets together and celebrates the leaving behind of the past and the raw possibility of the future. It’s so much fun, and honestly, it has always felt pretty spiritual to me.

If you know me personally (or if you’ve been able to draw conclusions from some of my previous articles), you might know that I LOVE coming up with rituals and I LOVE making lists. Many times, my rituals involve listing in some form (See gratitude journals, my nightly ritual, these three lists, and these practices for a mindful morning). So naturally, I have a New Year’s ritual that, of course, involves a little bit of listing.

I probably began this ritual when I was twelve, and I have done it almost every year since then. It is a practice, which, for me, marks the end of one chapter (or year) of life and ushers in the next. I’d love to share it with you all, just in case you think it might be something you’d like to try, too.

Here’s what I do:

First, I take out a few sheets of paper and a pen. (I choose pen over pencil because it’s more permanent, and as I mentally tie up the “loose ends” of the previous year on paper, the pen symbolizes, to me, that they’re tied up permanently. However, this is a really specific personal preference that actually has no effect on the practice itself).

Then, I begin writing.

The first part of my ritual involves writing a letter to the Universe/God/Creator/Etc. It’s kind of like a long, written-out prayer, except I dissect the year that has just passed. It essentially talks about the year in review. I reflect on the major events, the trials I went through, the people who really mattered, and the lessons I learned; and I express gratitude for the wonderful things that happened, as well as the seemingly not-so-wonderful things that happened (for the lessons they taught). After reflecting on the past year and expressing gratitude for it, I usually make a few requests, such as that my loved ones be kept safe, happy, and healthy and that the coming year brings many brilliant experiences. It’s usually a fairly long letter, and I try to set aside enough time so that I can really put my heart and soul into it. If you think you might want to try something like this, obviously I hope you make it your own. When I write things, they tend to be long and drawn-out, but other people might be able to say what they need to say in fewer words. Please don’t feel like you need to do things the same way I do. It’s a personal practice, and you should do whatever resonates with you.

After I finish the letter, I move on to making a list of my New Year’s intentions (here’s the listing part!). Many people are familiar with the concept of a New Year’s resolution—something you determine to do or accomplish throughout the year. However (and maybe this is just me, but I don’t think it is), I’ve struggled in the past to keep my resolutions after a certain point, like maybe February. This is why, now, instead of making resolutions at the New Year, I make New Year’s intentions. When you set an intention, you’re basically saying, “This is what I want to happen. I’m not sure how it’s going to happen, but it will.” Intentions require very little effort, which actually goes back to one of the Seven Spiritual Laws, which I’ll talk about in another article later. Anyway. I make a list of my intentions, which might consist of items such as “that I remain in excellent health,” “that my writing take off,” “that I feel a sense of belonging,” or “that I meet someone wonderful and have the time of my life.” I like to think of my New Year’s intentions as my spiritual wish list, and I’m not modest about asking for things. Sometimes it will be three pages long, and that’s okay! If you’re thinking about trying this, don’t be afraid to set as many intentions as you want. You’re worthy of it all—the physical, material, emotional, and spiritual—all you have to do is ask for it. I love intentions for this reason: Rather than taking charge of your goals as you might with a resolution (and struggling to make them come to fruition), with an intention, you are letting go and allowing a higher power to take charge of them, trusting that it will lead you to the people, places, and things you’ll need to accomplish them. It embodies the beauty of surrender (if you haven’t read about the importance of surrender, you can check it out here).

After making the list, I move on to the final part of the ritual (if the situation I’m in allows for it). Typically, I’ll make a photocopy of both the letter and the intentions so that I can look back on them later. It’s not completely necessary—it’s just a personal preference. Then, I take the original copies outside, and I slowly and ceremoniously burn them. In my mind, the smoke from the fire carries them into the Universe, and the burning symbolizes my complete surrender to something greater than I am. When I burn the papers, it’s like I’m saying, “Take it. It’s yours. I trust that you will make it all work flawlessly.” It’s a really peaceful experience. Afterward, I typically put the photocopies in a box under my bed (or somewhere else where I’ll mostly forget about them but still remember where they are if I need to see them again). And then I step into the New Year.

This is one of my favorite holiday rituals, and I usually do it late at night on New Year’s Eve. However, you could also do it on New Year’s Day (that’s today!) or really any day. Any time you’re looking to lay one chapter to rest and begin another, this is a wonderful practice.

If you decide to try this ritual—and if you wholeheartedly surrender your intentions to the Universe/God/Creator/Etc.—you might be surprised to find that, when you look back later in the year at your photocopied list of intentions, the vast majority of them (if not all) will have come true. It’s like magic.

Anyway, I hope you have a lovely New Year’s Day and that the winds of change will blow you to exactly where you need to be.

With so much love,

Sonia

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