|Looking Backward, Looking Forward
Happy New Year! May you be filled with renewed energy for life, and the wisdom to put it to effective use.
The month of January is named after the Roman god Janusthe god of beginnings and transitions. If you have seen depictions of him, you know he had two faces which looked both backward and forward. Thus, the transition month of the year bears his name.
Most of us look forward at this time of the year, and wonder what the new year will bring. Whether your personal year last year was easy or difficult, or more likely a mix of the two, the new year usually brings with it renewed hope and fresh energy. Like Janus, we can benefit from looking both backward and forward at this time of new beginning.
At all times, life contains many possibilities: falling in love, accidents, illness, winning the lottery, happening upon old friends, making new ones, or healing old wounds. We have gotten over some of these, and not over others. Looking backward to look forward can help handle each new event that life brings to the best of our ability. Looking forward helpsto focus on where we want to be, what we want to do, instead of getting tangled in the problems of the past. Looking backward is an opportunity to learn from the past, but only in terms of what we can do in the future. When I look back and review, I can see mistakes I made, but that is only useful if I consider how to avoid making similar mistakes in the future. Looking back, I can see ways in which I triumphed, and seeing that motivates me to do more in the future. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” may have been overused, but it is still true.
What are you beginning today? What new energy will you bring into your life? What will this new year be about for you? How will you use the gift of a new year? This coming year is a most precious gift, and once it’s gone, none of us will ever see it again. How did you use last year’s gift of time? Are you proud and pleased? Good! Use that energy to begin another year to be proud of.
Are you grateful for many gifts and much help from your Higher Source? The best way to show your gratitude is to take the help and make the most of it. Are you discouraged and despondent? Now is your chance to wipe the slate clean and begin anewseek help if you don’t know where to start. Anything can be healed or turned around, even if it’s just because you adjust your attitude.
Most of us will feel a mixture of these reactions to the past year, and a corresponding mix of anticipation and worry about the new. Give yourself a New Year’s gift: spend a few hours in contemplation of what has gone before, what you would like to keep going, and what you would like to change. My New Year’s gift to you is the following exercise, intended to help you take charge of yourself and your year from the beginning, and to help you take advantage of the renewal of energy that is possible now. You can do this alone or with friends, whichever feels better to you. You can make it as elaborate or simple as you wish. I’ve made this as non-denominational as I can, but feel free to modify it to suit your own faith.
New Year’s Meditation
1. To begin, find a location: the beach, home alone or with friends, near a favorite tree in the park, in an empty church. Find a place that suits you, where you’re not likely to be interrupted or distracted, and that is a comfortable place for you to do the next step. Or, close your eyes and go to a favorite place in your imagination.
2. Then, do a purification ritual: Take an herbal bath, wash your hands, run or do your exercise routine, drink pure water, sing, dance, meditate, surround yourself with white light, do yoga or praywhatever feels cleansing to you, and will help you get into an open frame of mind for working with your spiritual and emotional energy. Designing your own purification is the beginning of taking charge, and learning to use energy in the most effective way for your individual, unique needs.
3. Once you have purified, review your past year. Do this in a detached, objective frame of mindit is not an exercise in complaining, blaming yourself, or regret. Instead, gather information you will use in shaping the new year. Consider what you like about what you’ve done, what you want to continue, and what you want to change. Write it down if you like, tell someone else, send it in an email, or simply think privately about it.
4. Now, choose a focus for the coming year. You can pick a specific project, like starting a new routine or activity or giving up a bad habit, or you can pick something more abstract, like improving your health, or communicating better with your partner, or being more accepting of yourself or others. Don’t worry about whether your choice is enough for the entire year. You can refocus later, when you’ve accomplished this first goal. In fact, smaller goals are usually betterthey aren’t so overwhelming, and they seem possible to accomplish, so you have more energy. You may want to write it down or record it in some way, discuss it, or just keep it in your heart.
5. Once your project is settled, open yourself up to the help that is available to you. At this point, you don’t know what form that help will take: it may be friends, surprises, help, miracles, or information or money may appear from an unexpected source. Resolve now to be alert for that help, and to accept it graciously and gratefully when it comes. Give thanks for it in advance, and also for the opportunity that this year can be.
6. Find a way to close the ritual: have a cup of herb tea, a shower or steam bath, make a respectful bow, burn or archive what you’ve written, pray, dance, or sing. What you are doing is focusing your spiritual and emotional energy and making a commitment to yourself to carry out this new focus.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley) and The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs (New Page); Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage and her newest, Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She publishes “Happiness Tips from Tina”, an e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance Blog.” Online, she is “Dr. Romance” with columns at Divorce360.com, Wellsphere.com, and Yahoo!Personals, as well as a Redbook Love Network expert. Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC news. She tweets @tinatessina and is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tinatessina and www.facebook.com/#!/DrRomanceBlog
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