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At this time of the year we reflect on the past and look toward the future we want. Partly this is because the end of the year is a natural punctuation point, and partly because we have some time off so our thoughts run to thinking about our life. Too often this can turn into rumination and negative assessment that leaves us feeling blue and dissatisfied. We might want to make changes, but we don’t know how and even if it’s possible.

I’d like to share a process I’ve done for years that might help kindle a new kind of thinking about the future. And don’t worry that it’s past new year! Any time between the summer/winter solstice (22 December) and Chinese new year (second new moon for the calendar year) is a great time to tune into the energies of renewal and creation.

I love ritual and process – it can be a simple way to create meaning and spaciousness in my life that’s empowering. So you might think of the following as a small ritual.

Here we go.

What I do each year is sit somewhere relaxing and quiet – where I know I won’t be interrupted. You don’t have to be alone – I’ve done this with like minded friends, and also with my husband and kids. It can be a lovely thing to share with others, or do solo. Up to you.

Bring paper, a candle, some coloured pens, and a bowl.

Start off by lighting a candle. Imagine yourself sitting within a sacred, protected circle, and then set your intention for this process. Give yourself the permission to take this time to write, think, feel, deeply listen, and conjure. Hold within you that this is a space of love and deep compassion for you.

The ritual is in two parts: the first part is to complete the year that has now gone. The second part is to call in the energies for the new year.

So on to the first part.

Ask yourself the following, and write down what’s there for you. Write down anything – stream of consciousness, and don’t worry about making it legible.

What am I grateful for in 2018?
What did I learn?
What do I want to amplify?
What will I leave behind?
Anything else I want to say about 2018?

Once you feel you’ve written all that’s there, place your page/s in the bowl. Using the candle as the flame, burn what you have written. The past is done! In burning the paper, feel gratitude but also completion – you are consigning what was into the flames. Depending on the year you just had, you might want to move around and literally shake it off. Do a little dance! Good bye 2018!

When you’re ready, you can start to call in 2019.
Sitting quietly, allow yourself to dream and imagine.

Ask yourself the following questions, and write down in coloured pens what’s there for you. (It’s important to do this with a light touch. This is the murmurings of your own heart speaking to you. You don’t have to show anyone or discuss it with anyone.)

What do I want to call in for 2019?
How do I want to feel?
What do I want to learn?
How do I want to evolve and grow?
How will I contribute and serve?

When you’ve finished this, just sit quietly and ground the creative, expansive energy swirling for the coming year. Hold loving energy around it. Some of the things you write can be vulnerable, nascent stirrings, and you want it to have some few moments to take root before the judgement of ‘reality’ sets in.

At this point, when I feel the process is done, I say a thank you to the spirits, ancestors and life itself. I hold in my heart all beings and our earth, and I radiate out  happiness, peace and joy to all. I then blow out the candle, signalling the ritual is complete and the circle is broken. This new year’s eve I did it in the evening, and afterwards laid outside under the starry milky way. Other years I’ve plunged into the surf, or enjoyed a lovely cold glass of champagne! There is no wrong way to finish up!

You can choose what to do with what you’ve written. I keep my writing for the coming year. Sometimes I reflect on it. Sometimes I build on it weeks or months later. And sometimes I just randomly find it in a drawer having forgotten what I wrote.

I’d love to hear about how you set yourself up for the coming year. Do you have a special process? If you try this ritual, I’d  love to hear how it was for you. This is only meant as a guide. Any opportunity to reflect, complete and create is always worthwhile. It’s one of the amazing things about being human – we can choose where and what we put our attention on.