A simple and effective end of year ritual is to carve out a little time for yourself to meditate and journal.
The holidays can be delightful, but they also come with a degree of stress. Cycles of grief and family drama tend to recur around the holidays, and whatever is going on in your relationships tends to intensify during this season. Many of us have a tendency to rush into the new year, to say good riddance to whatever happened during the last cycle and try to start fresh. In order to allow for a new beginning, however, we often also have to do some endings.
This delicate season is full of rituals from many traditions partly because this season of endings can be so hard. Regardless of what your traditions are, we all share the winter solstice, the longest, darkest night of the year (at least, in the Northern hemisphere). This is a time to gather friends around, to light candles and help each other get through the darkness. Solstice is also an energetic new year, like a major new moon. New moons and winter solstices represent an ending that heralds a new beginning, the death and then rebirth of the light towards the full moon or summer solstice.
Seasonal rituals can be healing and help us move forward in our lives. For some people the candle lighting of the Hannukah menorah or dressing a Christmas tree can be a contemplative experience that can give us a chance to think about those things. Collective rituals, including holiday parties or festive dinners can help us gather together with our loved ones and support each other. But it can also be really important to have private, personal rituals that allow us to grieve our losses and be honest with ourselves about our hopes for the future.
A simple and effective practice is to carve out a little time for yourself to meditate and journal. You could do this all at once, but I think it’s most effective to take a few days out in a row to ask a different question each night, following the traditions of the 12 days of Christmas, the eight days of Hannukah, or the seven days of Kwanzaa. Being in a short season of contemplation can help give your body and mind a chance to process change and prepare for the coming cycle.
Here are seven sets of questions to consider for contemplation you could do over seven days:
1. What has happened in my relationships this year? Who was in my life in the winter? Spring? Summer? Fall? Who left and who stays? Who would I like to call in or call back to my social sphere?
2. What happened in my work or my life’s project this year? Did I face challenges? Did I learn anything new? Did I advance? How do I feel about this work? What might I want to change?
3. What happened to my body this year? What was injured or went wrong and what healed? What efforts did I make to care for myself and treat my body with kindness?
4. What did I lose this year? What losses still weight heavy on my heart? What did I gain from having had that person or thing in my life that remains as a part of me, even if the thing or person is gone?
5. How have I changed as a person? Do I like the choices I made or is there something I want to change about myself?
6. How do I feel about the passing of the year? Am I ready to let it go? Relieved? Excited for a new start? Anxious about possible changes? Energized? Tired?
7. What do I want the next year to look like in terms of relationship, work,
health, and in general?