The real voyage of discovery
consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.
               --Marcel Proust

Each new year, millions of people make resolutions, vowing to do things differently. That's not surprising since New Year's is an opportunity to begin anew; it's the perfect time to look at areas that need adjustment.

But it's important to remember that we must participate in rituals of purification and closure before we can bring a new vision into being. Think of it as putting a period at the end of a sentence in order to allow us to move on. Otherwise, we are constantly pulled backwards.

Remember that since a part of your psyche doesn't know the difference between a ritual and an actual event, rituals have great power and influence over the mind.

As we move into the new year, we can focus on bringing balance and harmony into our lives and on imbuing the coming year with the qualities we most desire. We can also set the intention to appreciate the present moment, which, in turn, brings sacred meaning to our daily rituals.

Many years ago the Bulgarian master Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov told me that the first 12 days of January represent the whole year. January 1st stands for the month of January, January 2nd stands for February, and so on. By practicing loving kindness, openness, and generosity while giving thoughtful attention to the significance of each day, you will consecrate the coming year.

The real spirit of the New Year--the heart and core of inner life--is love. We need to celebrate the beginning of a new year through expressions of love for ourselves, one another, and God.

To restore meaning to our New Year's traditions, we can look to our own roots, exploring the practices of our ancestors and borrowing from ancient cultures. We live in a time when people are feeling the lack of meaningful celebrations. Let this year be a living ritual to peace and understanding.

New Year Ritual

Intention: To release everything that does not nourish and sustain you and to envision your future in ways that will support you. You will need quiet uninterrupted time for this ritual.

Part I: Purification
Begin by cleaning out your house. Throw away broken items and dead plants. Make sure everything is clean. In many cultures they sprinkle salt on the floor and sweep out old vibrations. Symbolically, you are creating a fresh space for new things to come into your life.

Give things away that you no longer need. If they are valuable, give them to friends with a note explaining what they meant to you. You may have worn a special necklace that gave you courage and feel your best friend could use this now in her life. Your old camera could go to a young nephew who would love to learn to take pictures (include a few hours of your time to teach him), your old work clothes can be donated to help people who are going back to work and need professional clothing. The choices are endless. My mother always said that when you get something new, you should give something away.

Watch your head in an Italian town on New Year's Eve, because the inhabitants literally do "out with the old" by throwing unwanted possessions from their windows. Everything that lands on the pavement is up for grabs, making street shopping a fun part of the night's activity.

Take an inventory
Make a list of all your debts then pay off as many bills as possible or at least send something to symbolize your intention to be debt free.

Forgive anyone who has harmed you. This does not condone their actions, but as Sharon Salzberg says, "when we are held prisoners by our own past actions, or the actions of others, our present life cannot be fully lived." Ask forgiveness to anyone you have harmed.

Enjoy a purification bath
Turn your bathroom into a sacred space by turning down the lights in your bathroom and lighting a purple candle (representing spirituality) to symbolize the release of the old year.

Run your bath, adding salt, essential oils, and/or herbs to the water.

Before you step into the bath, ask Spirit to release from your mind, body, and spirit all self-imposed limitations that keep you from expressing the powerful self that you are. This is a time to honor all of your feelings (fear, anger, grief, and resentment). If you feel like crying, screaming, or shouting do so. If you live in an apartment, you might want to play music so the neighbors don't call the police. Try not to judge your feelings as good or bad. Releasing emotions in this way leads to a quieting of the inner turmoil. Once you can express these it is easier to release your attachment to them. Imagine them dissolving in the water. Take as much time as you need to replenish your mind, body, and spirit.

When you are finished, drink water, rest, and enjoy the blessings of the cleansing and healing you have received.

Kumquat trees, peach blossoms, and bamboo shoots in water are used for good luck in China along with lucky red paper strips hanging outside the home. For prosperity in the coming year, some cultures throw money or grain into the house the first time that they enter after the New Year has begun. If you are staying home, go outside your home or apartment and after midnight throw coins into your home.

Decorate your home
Make a special effort to bring symbols of health, happiness, and prosperity into your living space. Create an altar or simply arrange pictures, statues, flowers, plants, ornaments, or other objects that are uplifting, beautiful, and meaningful to you.

Inner guidance
Take the time to be still and offer prayers for guidance in the coming year. Write down your thoughts in a new journal, which symbolizes the start of a new cycle. Allow this conscious ritual to alter the way you see your life and give you a fresh perspective. Give your mind permission to play with new ideas.

Try this invocation: Mother/Father God allow me to see clearly the solution or guidance that I need so that I no longer worry that I'm doing the wrong thing.

In Bali, on the actually day of the New Year (Nyep), the entire island remains silent. One prays and meditates on the coming year. Even the airports are closed.

Part II: Share your holiday with others
Invite friends to a New Year's ceremony that honors each individual's path. Have every person share his or her vision for the year. It is powerful to have others be witnesses to your dreams.

Take five minutes to focus on peace by having each person light a candle for peace and healing.

Dance, sing, and celebrate life. When we have expended too much energy attempting to control our lives then we need to move into balance by becoming spontaneous and embracing the present moment.

If you do these things, you enter the new year, cleansed, renewed, and with a clear intent on traveling the path to consciousness, fulfillment, and prosperity.

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