Focusing on intentions…We begin again.

The other day, I got to lead a New Year/New Moon ritual at my favorite local yoga studio.

It’s something that I’ve done on my own the last few ends-of-the-year and I thought I’d enjoy sharing it with folks who were interested.

It was, indeed, lovely to lead people in a practice accessible to everyone.  And to have people tell me how beautiful they felt afterwards.

While the practice included yoga poses, chanting, and Himalayan bowls, I’m sharing an edited version that you could do at home or with your family and/or friends.  Keep in mind that, as my friend Jacqueline Gates says, our existence as part of the Universe means that we live in greatest harmony when we observe and respect the rhythms of the natural world.  This New Moon occurs January 5/6, so the days immediately preceding (i.e. today, tomorrow, Thursday) are ideal for us to focus on clearing out, letting go and RESTING in who we are and who we intend to be.

Here is the edited version of the ritual. If you choose to do the fuller practice, you’ll need 3 pieces of paper, a pen, a candle, a chair, a pillow, a blanket.  If you choose to do only the writing and fire ritual (the core of the ritual), skip down to where you focus on your heart and you’ll just need the paper, pen, and candle.

Begin by standing to the side of your mat (off your mat) if you’re using your yoga mat.  Hold your hands in front of your belly button, palms up, as though you’re holding water.  Close your eyes and visualize yourself placing all of your cares and woes into your hands.  Pack these cares and woes as if into a snowball and place the ball on the floor next to your mat or chair.

If you’d like to do a few yoga poses before you begin, I invite you to do Virabhadrasana 2 then 1 then 3.  The word, “Vira” is Sanskrit for courage and strength.  In doing the Vira poses, we exercise our courage to do the pose, to do whatever it is that we desire to do and we cultivate our strength—whatever strength it is that we seek.

I like to do them in this order (2 then 1 then 3) because I like to flow from a place of directing my focus to reaching my arms overhead to hold my slain demon(s) — as in the legend of Durga— and then celebrate in Virabhadrasana 3.

Doing standing poses helps us build confidence.  It takes courage and confidence to decide to live with intention, to develop awareness, to grow.  I figure I need to do all I can to cultivate all of the above!

Once you do the poses, have a seat where you’re comfortable.  Light your candle.

Close your eyes and say to yourself, I see and speak and write and live from my heart.

On the first page of paper, write a list of the things you’d like to have done differently in 2018, hurts and disappointments you experienced, anything that keeps you mired in muddy thoughts and feelings.  Writing a word or two for each experience is enough.  

Once you’ve made your list (and if you forget something, not to worry:  Your INTENTION is enough.), fold the piece of paper a few times.  If you have a metal bowl that will allow you to burn the paper, you can touch the paper to the flame of your candle and then place it in the metal bowl.  (Please have a pitcher of water nearby…just in case) Offer your paper to the flame (either in real life or in visualization) with these or similar words:

Blessed Mother, Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus, all the angels and saints and holy men, women, and children help us release what is unwanted from our bodies and our lives.  Cut the cords and help us heal our wounds with love.  Allow us to learn from and to integrate all of it so that we may discern what to take with us into this New Moon and New Year.

Pause for several breaths.

On the second paper, write the things that went RIGHT in 2018, the things you’re proud of and happy about.

Fold this paper and offer it to the flame with these or similar words:

Blessed Mother, Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus, all the Angels and Saints, Holy Men, Women, and Children, celebrate with me the good that I create and share. 

Pause for several breaths.

At this point, I invite you to lie down with your calves on the seat of your chair (or supported by a bolster if you’re lying on your mat), a pillow under your head and a blanket over your body.  Set a timer for 10-15-20 minutes.

Once you’re lying down, focus your awareness on these thoughts:

Settle into what went RIGHT in 2018.  What will you carry with you into 2019?

Who would you like to be by the end of 2019?

Let both your identities—both iterations of you– exist gently in your awareness.

Be kind and curious as you hover.

Release whatever no longer supports your thriving.

And now allow yourself to breathe and be.  Let it all wash over you.  Feel your breath like waves on the eternal ocean.  Allow yourself to rest in you.

When your timer goes off, turn to one side and lie there for several breaths before you come to a seated position.  Or move on to the last part of the ritual, if you’re doing this.

On the final sheet of paper, write:

This year, I intend to feel….

I intend and get to do….

I intend to let God, the Angels, the Universe, Life take care of…

And then fill in your answers.

Fold the paper and hold it in your palms, offer it to the flame with these or similar words:

Blessed Mother, Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus, all the angels and saints and holy men, women, and children, bless these intentions. I offer them to you with a grateful heart. Allow the flame to burn behind my heart and stretch to the soles of my feet, the tips of my fingers, the crown of my head so that I may feel alive with these intentions and devote myself to living them.

Sit with your hands in the buddhi mudra (thumb and pinky touching, other fingers straight), resting on your thighs.

Read my prayer-poem “Protect My Mindset” or hear your own words asking for help in staying your path of devotion.

Close with these or similar words:

May I be at peace.  May my heart remain open.  May I awaken to the light of my own true nature.  May I be healed.  May I be a source of healing for all beings.  May the blessings be.

And as my teacher, Judith Lasater says, “May we live like the lotus—at home in the muddy water.”

Many Blessings Always,

Paula

If you’d like more from my friend Jacqueline Gates, please visit her on Facebook.

If you’d like to share this with people you love, please do!  And invite them to my blog and my book!