Closing Rituals Pt. 1 - The Letter
Hi there! This is a three part series about end of the year intention setting. As the countdown for the end of the year begins, there is a push to set a New Year’s resolution. I like the concept but reworked it to resonate more into my own life. At the beginning of each yoga clas, as both a teacher and a practitioner, I set an intention. What am I cultivating in this hour? How do I want to show up? Instead of overhauling my life with a resolution, I’ve found that setting an intention, mindfully evolving, consciously choosing who I am becoming, feels more like me. These are my end-of-year rituals. It starts with The Letter, moves to Gratitude, and finishes with Intention Setting. Enjoy!
As the year comes to a close, I begin my closing rituals. Though a year is an arbitrary marker of time, it offers a chance for us to collectively check in. We end one chapter and begin the next. I give each year a chapter title, a macro intention that helps to focus the direction of my heart. When in doubt, I remember what I am cultivating. For example: The Year of Joy, The Year of Compassion, The Year of Kindness, The Year of Fearlessness, The Year of Giving ZERO Fucks. In order to get to this place, I have to start at the beginning. So I take it back, way, way back, to the first of the year.
At the end of every year, I write a letter to myself to be opened on New Year’s Eve of the next year. I seal the letter and put it away until the day comes where I read all of the things I wanted myself to remember about who I am, what I learned, and how to show up in the world. I remember the first time I did this; I was a freshman in college. For one of my classes, Locals, we all wrote letters as our freshman selves to our graduating senior selves. When I opened my letter up as a senior on my graduation, I cried. My younger self somehow knew exactly what I needed to hear as I left the place that had been my home to start another book of my life. There is such wisdom and courage and bright-eyed optimism in youth. It was in that moment that I decide this was an experience I wanted to carry with me into the next chapter of my life. I knew that the next city I would live I in, New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, was also the same place that slapped you upside the head with reality.
So why the letter? The letters are a conversation starter. Set aside time to talk with yourself about who you are becoming. There is something very special about getting inside the mind and heart of a younger version of yourself. For me, it’s incredibly difficult to look back on the work I’ve done, the choices I’ve made, the life I’ve lived with any sort of acknowledgement of the mountains I’ve summited to make it to where I am now. In this letter, I give myself permission to be totally real: the things that I excelled at, the things that torn me to pieces, the moments that I think about every day, the people who came, those who went, and most importantly what I’ve learned from those things. In order to go forward, we’ve got to look back. The past teaches us so much about ourselves. I find that by writing it down what’s happened, I more readily sense the experiences or causes that light my soul on fire and those that drag me down.
I remember last year, I looked at my life and found that I was happiest when I was traveling and doing the thing work that I loved. I set out to have 2017 be the year I traveled the most, The Year of Adventure. When you put something out into the universe, get ready for it to happen. I traveled more for the heart-work that I love than any other time in my life. I went all across the US and the world doing yoga. That’s pretty dope. It didn’t pan out exactly the way I thought it would. Instead something even better came along.
Instructions for The Letter
- Gather materials (pen, big paper, envelope, stickers and markers for embellishment)
- Less of a chronicle of the past year. From the place you are now, write a letter to future self. Include any advice you want to give your older self, what you want your older self to remember, words of wisdom or encouragement. Be honest. Be compassionate.
- Seal letter. Decorate.
- Place letter in a safe spot where you won’t forget it or give it to someone else for safe keeping.
The letter is signed, sealed, and hidden. The new year is as much about letting go as it is cultivating. In surveying the year past, see more what you need to leave behind. What have you been saying yes to over and over again? Is it making you happy? If not what might? Courage moment: dare to choose happiness.