Today. The first day of a new year that we are all wanting to be less dramatic, traumatic, confusing, dividing, tense, violent, heartbreaking, isolating, and stressful.
We step now into a year that we hope will bring more connection, clarity, togetherness, ease, smiles, bare faces, hugs, closeness, healing and financial freedom.
It’s a time when many are making resolutions to do things differently, setting intentions for a better road ahead in some way. Some may relate with a sense of holding one’s breath through the holidays to finally exhale (and then inhale!) come January 1. Others plan ahead for this “fresh start” by going about business as usual until they awaken today to implement these new changes.
I’m all for the ritual of it. Reflecting on the past year through journaling and then writing down intentions for the year ahead. Creating a ceremony involving fire or plunging in some frigid natural water source as a way to burn or wash away the past. Or perhaps hitting the gym, calling that relative, cleaning the basement, or tackling some other project you’ve been putting off.
As for me, I tend to retreat. I take a few days at home of unplugging and disconnecting. No, I won’t be posting on IG. No I won’t be replying to those texts and emails. Instead, I light candles, play the guitar & sing, blast music & dance in the kitchen. I take long walks with my dog, make tea, and eat really nourishing food. I could bust out some art supplies or finally give myself permission to sit on the couch for hours with that book I’ve been wanting to read. I might draw a card from my Sacred Path deck, though I usually do that on Winter Solstice (which is more a time of ceremony for me). This morning I even did some long-overdue unpacking and organizing. But then comes my most favorite part – I create my vision board.
Yes, I’m one of those people. I’ve been doing them for years, though they have changed drastically since my first ones. I used to scour magazines for images and key words, but these days I particularly love the We’Moon planner for all its beautiful writings and art that I cut out to include on my board. Lately, I’ve been using old wall calendars as the centerpiece, which is a fun twist. These are calendar pages that have a lovely picture accompanied by a quote that feels particularly relevant to me at the time. Sometimes I will print images off the computer to capture specific intentions. Most importantly, though, is that I love the simple, meditative process of creating a beautiful collage and I take comfort in and look forward to the familiarity of this annual ritual of mine.
Whatever you may or may not feel called to do on New Year’s Eve or Day – remember that January 1 is not the only time you can set new intentions and wipe the slate clean. We tend to wait for some day of significance to do this: a birthday, solstice, New Year’s, a Monday, the first day of a new month, an anniversary, etc. We ascribe some special meaning to these kinds of days, imbuing them with our need for a new beginning. This can be a great way to go about it… or can feel like a lot of pressure.
Thankfully, there are many many ways to commemorate a new beginning that are accessible to us each day.
Here are some ideas – and I bet you have even more! This first list are ideas that are low time investments – from a few seconds to an hour or two.
Taking a shower or bath
Dip in a stream or lake or swimming pool
Burn some sage
Light a candle
Put on some music, turn it up, and dance
Go for a walk, bike ride, hike, run, etc
Take a nap
Shed some tears
Sing a song
Create a small ceremony
Change your clothes
Draw a tarot card
Rattle or drum
Do some Qi Gong
Go for a drive
Schedule a session with a therapist or coach
Spin around three times, or twenty
Shake & wiggle your body – gently
Click your heels together and state your intention three times
Lie down in the grass and look at the sky/clouds
Stop. Just stop what you’re doing and choose to do/say/think something different – and then resume in a new direction
Say a prayer
Get a massage
Have a cup of tea
Recite a mantra
Do a rosary
Take 10 deep breaths – or do some other pranayama
Now, here are some ideas that require more planning and a greater investment of your time:
Do a fast
Participate in a Solstice/Equinox Celebration
Go on a retreat (or create one of your own)
Go on a Vision Quest
Go camping by yourself
Take a day or more of silence
Make a pilgrimage
Do a long-distance hike – like the Appalachian Trail.
Go on Sabbatical
The most important thing is that if you are feeling the need for a new start, you don’t have to wait for just the right day to do it. Act when the inspiration is alive in you. Find a way to press reset at 3:41 in the afternoon on just another Thursday. Start over right in the middle of your work shift or mid-sentence in a conflict with someone you love.
Remember, every moment holds the possibility of a fresh start! Every breath is a new beginning.