We’ve been doing this writing exercise for years, I dusted it off, updated a bit. wish I had more time! – As my voice has changed… but here it is, as it is. I hope you make the time, I think that you’ll be glad that you did: (printable version at the end)
Before we turn the page on 2016… Let’s look back. It’s usually best to keep this a somewhat lighter inward journey, There’s no going back to change anything. and there’s no one, or no need to impress. Be gentle but firm with yourself.
Can you carve out 10 –20 minutes for this meditation & writing exercise?
Make a cup of something to sip, get a nice pen, three pieces of paper, a pad of post-its, perhaps your calendar. Find a quiet place where you can sit.
It’s okay to skip this part, but if you keep a calendar or appointment book a brief skim can jog our memory as to how much has passed this year.
Light a candle, and get comfortable. Let your breath smooth out and slide into meditation for a few moments…
Once in quiet space, reflect on your experience of 2016. Let your mind drift through the past year, the milestones that have passed, the highs and lows. Let it all come. Breathe. In bold letters, title the first piece of paper:
What I’m leaving behind – 2016
Inhale….Exhale… Start writing… in stream of consciousness writing, it’s best to not stop, judge, or filter in any way. Get it onto the page. What are you so-done with? What will not survive the strike of midnight on December 31st?
Explore the facets of your life. Home, work, your practice, relationships, (might need more paper!) health, behaviors. Then get into the energetics. List your done-with fears, doubts, hesitations, negativity, and grudges… What do you resist?
No, this is not like a facebook post, where most cultivate a sparkling image of themselves. This is between you, and you, so be a true story to yourself here.. and keep writing…
Have you been unkind or hurt anyone? Apologize. Has anyone treated you unkindly – unfairly? Forgive them. Make amends, Make your peace. List your disappointments, and how you’ve disappointed others. Where are you kidding yourself? put it down.
Phew. Still with me? great. Onward. In bold letters across the top of the second sheet, write:
How i’ve grown and what I’ve learned in 2016.
What has living through 2016 revealed to you? What have you accomplished in the different areas of your life? how have you grown, what have you’ve learned, especially those tougher lessons. are you evolving?
(breathe, steady and evenly) What obstacles have you overcome… what have you gained? Where have you surprised yourself in your strength?
List your top five experiences – memories of 2016
What were the high points, peak moments, sweet and bittersweet memories?
Take some time with this, We’ll squeeze every last bit of goodness from 2016 before moving on. These waves live on.
You’re doing great. Keep going! Here’s where it gets fun. Label the third sheet:
I’m happy and healthy in 2017.
How would envision your ideal life. Again, ponder the aspects of your life. Relationships, work, creativity, your home, finances, health, your Yoga practice…
How do you feel in your body? Do you take in clean wholesome food, drink filtered water? Get exercise? What is your energy level?
It’s really important to visualize not just the results, but you putting in the efforts. Imagine yourself actually doing the work. And therein lives the shift.
Do you take time to contemplate, to meditate, time in nature, when is the last time you learned something new? How do you nourish yourself?
Can you feel the interconnectedness of all life and energy, do you have a deepening spiritual practice, a belief about how you fit into this mystery we’re living? Consider a Spiritual Bucket List as to how will you honor your individual and universal connection to this great mystery we’re living.
And the innermost self, when was the last time you were really happy? Had a good laugh? can you find inspiration in the simplest of things? Do you spend time in wonder and awe… in gratitude? What do you truly appreciate about this gift of this life?
Is there any part of you that is yearning for nourishment?
Write in positive and present tense, like it is already your reality, How will you feel? Describe in detail your day, from rising after a great nights sleep, your meditation, your breakfast… to the work you will do, to the beauty you’ll experience, all the way to tucking yourself in… Or being tucked in… content and slipping off into peaceful sleep… after a day of shaping your reality. Can you see all this as preparing to bring your gifts and talents to the world in true service to what you love. That is where humans are happiest and most effective.
Take a break, sip some tea, then meditate on this visualization, allow it to saturate you.let a word or simple phrase of summary come to you.. A word that sums up this direction you’d like to move in, a quality you’d like to see more of in your life.
Write this theme, Your Mantra for the coming year – in your best penmanship on your post-it note. Finish your tea, slide back into meditation for a few minutes before rising. This is the work of a spiritual warrior. Well done.
Can you let go of who you used to be?
Bring your first sheet, and your candle outdoors, or to your fireplace where you can safely burn the list. As your paper turns to ash, state: “I _______ release these qualities and experiences from my life…. Swaha!”
The second and third lists you’ll read once more, then tuck away. Reflect on them in in a month or two, You just may need a refresher to get back on track.
Stick the post-it Mantra on your bathroom mirror, or a place where it will be the last thing you see before you go to sleep, the first thing you see before starting your day. Read it while you brush your teeth, ponder it for the full two minutes. (you do brush for two minutes right?)
Putting pen to paper, and writing intentions seems to work. We leap from, “I might want to think about maybe making this change someday, to “I’m doing this!” For more on these practices of writing down our intentions, check out this transformational book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
Not just on New Years, but each day I resolve to do my best. To show up with an open heart, to be present to the good, the bad, and the good in the bad. To try and learn from failure… dust myself off and keep going. I’ll not limit myself through fear or hesitation, and will lean into uncertainty, actively looking for the goodness in the moment.
I’ll stay in awe of the beauty of the little things in life, and open wide to possibility.
Though I love the quote about taking the leap… and growing wings on the way down, by Kurt Vonnegut. I struggle with this one. It’s clear that we need to leap often, and keep things interesting, in reality it’s not all that easy.
That’s where our practice comes in. Steady regular introspection, and writing exercises like this can bring us clarity about what it is that we really really want, and how we’ll walk in the world.
With Yoga becoming more and more about self improvement in our culture, the practices around self awareness and self-acceptance are truly where peace can be found.
Afterall, any real change can and will only come from self love.
Imagine wrapping your arms around the whole of who you are, and where you are at right now. Acceptance and appreciation of who we are right now is how we’ll begin our journey into 2017.
In our busyness, how many will actually do this exercise? It’s up to you.. Nobody can do it for you. But I plead with you, I challenge you. Get three pieces of paper and invest some time in You.
Do it for yourself, the people who count on you, and all beings that cross your path.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu May all beings be happy and free.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti… -john
Here’s the printable version —-> your2016yearinreview
And P.S. We’ve got a few spots left in our Restorative Yoga Immersion on Sunday January 15th at 2:30. Lemme know if you like me to hold you a spot. -j