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The ritual of marking a new year

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

Let go of the past. I'm sure many of you have heard that statement before. Don't dwell on the past. And while that is true and useful, it misses its counterpart - learning from the past.

If we set aside the past without stopping to evaluate it, we risk creating a backlog of incomplete lessons.

The start of the new year, which for many following the Gregorian calendar, is marked annually on the first day of January. It's not that some miraculous change suddenly occurs overnight as you move from one day to the next just because it's a new calendar year. But inwardly, a lot can change. And the start of a new year is an ideal opportunity to reflect on the life events that have led up to this moment and to look ahead at the path that is still unfolding.

A new year is a threshold. It marks the death and end of one cycle and the birth and beginning of a new one.

We could even say that midnight suspends for the briefest of moments the infinite possibilities of new beginnings. Moving into the first new calendar day, the dawn of a new cycle is birthed. The pattern of creation is thus offered to us as we ritually mark the end of one year and begin anew.

This year I decided to take a slightly different approach, and instead of reviewing only 2022, I went back further to the 2019/2020 precipice. It was such an enormous world-changing time, repercussions of which I still feel now.

For almost 12 years, I've had this annual practice of reflecting on the prior year, taking in the lessons learned, and evaluating areas of continued focus and desired growth. I take this with me into a focused meditation practice.

I listen to the voice of my Soul as it guides me in bringing these intentions into shared alignment.

I write these intentions down and periodically revisit them for the first few weeks until I feel they've been firmly encoded in my energy field.

Once I've written my new intentions, I go back and revisit the ones I wrote a year earlier. This is another opportunity to reflect on what has passed and changed, allowing space for the new.

The 2019/2020 threshold marked a substantial change, a death of an old Self. That old Self was molting, shedding for what felt like many long months. When we are shedding an old Self, a new Self is simultaneously emerging. It's not always an entirely comfortable process, but it is an important one from which new life desires to emerge.

Reflecting on this two and a half year period, key themes that emerged for me are:

  1. Stepping into a large fulfillment of true Self and dharma

  2. Moving abode into more seclusion and quiet

  3. Expressing hobbies and passions like baking and gardening

  4. Healing physical imbalances

  5. Making new friends

  6. Living with less

  7. Continued spiritual growth

As with light, there is darkness. I picked up a few not so useful habits, like sitting too much. Although it comes with the territory - writing a book, it's all too easy to excuse that as the reason for not moving more. I know this may sound strange, coming from a yoga teacher and an outdoor hiking enthusiast, but honestly, I sit at a desk a LOT! In 2023 this year I'd like to cultivate more regular and healthy daily movement. This is but one of many intentions I am setting.

Some people make a list, some focus on one big thing, others plan travel. There are those that celebrate with a polar plunge into icy waters. Brrrr! Rituals and traditions help remind us of these moments, harkening us back to what is essential.

Whatever it is, and however you choose to mark this changing of the guard, may you experience peace, joy, and fulfillment this 2023.

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