Rituals to Start Your New Year: Shedding your Past for a Brighter Future

Rituals to Start Your New Year: Shedding your Past for a Brighter Future

By: Sika Degbo

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The end of the year is typically a time spent reflecting on the year that has passed and preparing for the year that is to come. We celebrate the Christmas season being merry with the ones we love, then, once celebrations have died down, we’re left with one week before New Year’s Day to make sure we enter the new year on the right foot! For some, 2017 was a year of growth, for others it may have been a year of healing, or maybe it was a year of big changes or a year of challenges. For most of us, however, it was a mixed bag of emotions and events. Full of things that we would place all along the spectrum from positive to negative.

Regardless of the kind of year you had, there’s something so cathartic about the clean slate that comes with flipping the calendar to January and starting a fresh new year. There are a number of ways that you can welcome in the New Year. Some of us will undoubtedly begin 2018 with a lingering hangover from indulging in one too many sips of bubbly the night before, but that’s not the only way to welcome in the New Year. Here are some rituals that will help you leave behind the year that’s passed and set the tone for the brand new year ahead of you. (Keep in mind that you can do any of these rituals at any time in your life for a fresh start).

Get in Tune with Nature

Elizabeth Gilbert shared this New Year Ritual with Oprah during a Super Soul Conversations podcast. She starts New Year’s Day by getting up at dawn to go for a walk in the woods near her home and she decides that whatever wild animal she sees first is her “totem” or “spirit animal” for the year. She then goes home and looks up what the animal means and tries to keep that energy with her for the year.

Set Your Past on Fire

The act of burning things is such a strong symbolic act of release. Once something is surrendered to flames, you cannot get it back. Coincidentally enough, this is the title of one of the early chapters of The Last Arrow, the most recent book from Pastor Erwin McManus of MOSAIC, the church I now attend in LA. This particular chapter really shook me to my core. We’re all guilty of unnecessarily holding onto things that do not serve us - our “baggage” - and we carry them around with us everywhere we go.

Emotions like unforgiveness, resentment, blame, and guilt follow us around like a dark cloud. We could all benefit from writing down the hard feelings we acquired from the year before and letting them burn as a symbolic practice of freeing our hearts of their heaviness and leaving them in 2017. (This practice is best done before January so that the fresh start feeling of New Year's Day is as light and free of old baggage as possible).

Linger in Love and Laughter

A good practice to balance the purging of negative emotions is to bask in the good that you experienced during the past year. After your burning ceremony, reflect on the good moments that 2017 blessed you with. Ponder and write down the highlights, the accomplishments, and the happy moments. The times you felt really loved, really brave, really smart, really at peace, and really alive. Think of the times when you felt like your best self and hold on to that feeling as you embark on the journey of 2018. Say a silent prayer of gratitude and trust that the New Year will bring more moments that feel as good as you did during all of those joyous times.

Feel the Future

As an alternative to the traditional practice of writing down New Year’s resolutions, we can surpass listing all of the shiny pennies that we believe will make us happy and spend time focusing on the positive emotions we hope to feel in 2018 (remember that the only reason we want anything is that we believe that we will feel good when we have it). Make a list of positive emotions and keep them in mind throughout the year. Want to lose 15 pounds? Write down the feeling of “lightness” or being “energetic.” Want a romantic relationship? Write down the feeling of “being playful” or “giving and receiving affection.”

This way, when you think of all of the things that you want to have or do, you’ll remember that you can achieve the feeling that you’re hoping for in other ways. This will allow you to enjoy more moments rather than succumbing to disappointment if the scale shows that you’ve only lost 5 pounds and you’ve only managed to go on a handful of average dates.

I wish you all a prosperous and blessed 2018 full of growth and love. Entering the year with any one of these rituals will help you walk into the New Year feeling free of 2017 and eager for whatever the New Year will bring.