Don't go into the new year before doing this gratitude ritual
It's that time of the year. When you hear all the "Best of..." and "Worst of..." lists. When the year gets reviewed ad nauseam and we start talking about our wishes for 2018. Notice how quick we are to move to what we hope for in 2018 and try to "leave behind" whatever we did not like about 2017. It's a natural tendency and I definitely find myself doing that. But I want to share a powerful way to flow into the new year, using gratitude. I literally felt my biochemistry shift within the first few minutes of trying this and want to give full credit to my mentor, Debbie Kaplan, who called me out on not using all my gratitude skills.
So this year was one of my most challenging years on every level. It isn't necessary to spend a lot of time going into the why or how, it was just one of those years that brought great loss and challenge in every realm. It felt like at every turn, there was a new obstacle and hardly a break. Through it all, I still found the beauty and gratitude and even saw how I was becoming more resilient. But jokingly, I mentioned to my mentor, that even though I am pretty damn good at finding the joy in life, I was ready for this year to end and the new one to start.
That's when she asked me to reframe and find a different way to reflect on the year and welcome the new one. And when I did, my entire energy shifted. I have been doing it every day and plan on doing it up to and through the beginning of the new year.
So, let's break it down.
In essence, the way I framed it didn't sound that bad, right? I mean, I was acknowledging the challenges, seeing the beauty, all of that good self care stuff, but just ready for a new beginning.
The shift is now I am reflecting in this way:
"2017 has been a year of beauty and I am grateful I was here to experience it. It was also a year of great challenge. I am grateful for how it has shaped me. I am grateful for what it has taught me. And I take all of that beauty into 2018 with hope and faith that I will be present for all that life will bring me."
It's subtle but powerfully different. In this latter example, I am actually honoring the obstacles of 2017. I am acknowledging their place in my life AND ALSO inviting the beauty of their lessons in to the new year WITH me.
I am not "leaving" them behind. I am not asking that this year start a new slate. I am acknowledging that all of 2017 is a vital, welcomed, beautiful part of me. All of the pain. All of the beauty. All of the heart ache. All of the triumph. All of the tears, the laughter, the fear, the discovery. All of it.
I have subsequently broken down each obstacle as well as each beautiful milestone of 2017 and gone through this ritual in my morning meditation of thanking, welcoming, honoring and inviting each and every part of it with me in to 2018. (I haven't gotten through it all yet, it was quite a year!) And in the process, I have shed tears, smiled many times over and also realized how hard I have worked, how much I have learned, how my heart has widened and how no matter what, all that I experience is an essential part of me. I love all of it.
Try it, make a list if you need to. Especially of the biggest challenges of the year but also include the triumphs, the ones that made your heart sing. And thank each and every last one. All of them have woven themselves into the fabric of your being and are now part of the tapestry that makes up the essential, unique you.
Each part of this year has shown you that you are alive, that you feel, that you celebrate and ache, that you are part of this collective amazing thing called humanity.
All of it has connected you to the world around you and to deeper parts of yourselves.
So, of course there are parts of yourself, ways of being that may not serve you and you may want to leave some behind. All of that is fine.
But before you do that, like a receiving line at the most elegant party you can imagine, greet each and every one of them, thank them and know that they came (and possibly now have gone) with purpose and beauty.
Make it the most amazing party of the year, in your meditation, in your prayers, in whatever still moments of the day you can find.
But celebrate them and yourself, you deserve that.
Cheers to an exceptional 2018!