I still can’t believe that we are less than 3 days away from a new year. The New Year can bring up feelings of hope, wonder, pride – and also guilt, regret, and disappointment. All of these emotions are normal. The season we are in now is a wonderful time of year to start reflecting and giving thanks for all things before the new year arrives.
I would like to share with you a meditation exercise that will prepare you for the new year. You will need a journal or blank piece of paper and a pen. Set your journal aside nearby so it’s easily accessible if you wish to take notes on what may have surfaced during your meditation.
Sit up tall, gently close your eyes, and begin to slow down your breathing. Take 5 slow, deep breaths, in and out through your nose as you begin to settle your mind.
Start by just taking notice of where you are now – scanning your body and mind for information. Notice how you feel physically and mentally, and then begin to observe your thoughts in a neutral, non-judgmental way as they come and go.
Now begin to re-play through the year in your mind, slowly, as if you were watching a movie reel of highs, lows, and big and small moments from your year.
Start with the beginning of the year and move through the year month by month, recalling people, moments, emotions, activities, details, mistakes, highlights — all of it. Just play through these memories from the year little by little in your mind as they come to you and watch them like a recap of all that happened. Stay with each moment for a while before moving onto the next.
When you reach the end, finish the movie reel of the year, and notice how you feel (you can do this now to get started and finish at the end of December).
Now, begin to settle your attention on your biggest challenge from this year. In what ways did this experience, person, or situation challenge you? What would you have done differently, given the opportunity to repeat this experience? What did you learn from this experience, and what intention can you make for next year, with this lesson in mind?
Now, begin to settle your attention on your favorite moment from the last year. Hold it at the center of your mind and take it in through all your senses. Really replay this moment in your mind. Try to take that feeling into all your cells, with your entire mind and heart, and really feel that state you were in, when you were living through this favorite moment. Don’t rush this part — recall how your body felt, what your mind state was, what your energy felt like. Recall any colors, images, and sensations. What did it smell like? Taste like?
As you bring your attention to this positive memory, identify what feelings this experience carried with it. Create the intention to integrate more of these feelings into the coming year in various ways. What do you need to do to experience more feelings like these in your life? What is in your control? Who can help set you up for success?
Stay with it for another minute, and then slowly transition your mind back into the present moment by bringing your awareness back to your breath. Deep inhales and slow exhales.
Take a moment before you open your eyes.
This is a wonderful way to reflect on all that you have experienced this year and prepare you for the new year.
I would also encourage you to journal your time of reflecting and preparing for the new year. Writing things down helps to re-enforce any learning that comes with reflection. Take five minutes or two hours to put your thoughts on paper. You can write in an unstructured way or respond to the questions below. Quietly reflecting on your year, ask yourself:
What mattered most to me this year? How can I spend more time and energy on this next year?
What highlights and favorite moments stand out as experiences I want to recreate? Why?
What relationships were most meaningful?
List the things I was proud of in the last year.
List the things that made me smile and laugh.
List the things I regret, and why.
Identify moments or activities that made me lose track of time.
Look at what you’ve written so far. Given your responses, list all the things you’d like to create, feel, achieve, and plan for next year.
Use your reflections from your past year to catalyze positive changes in your upcoming year – to elevate your world in the ways that are most important to you. Happy New Year!