A New Year’s Conscious Celebration

The New Year is a great opportunity to reflect and set intentions. I’ve put together a few ideas to give thanks and review the past year as well as set intentions for the New Year to come.

Before beginning, it’s always nice to clear the space, de-clutter and clean up a bit. I usually like to light a candle and some incense and set up a comfortable space to sit in.

I always begin with a short meditation to come into the space. I focus on my breathing, and relax my body and ground myself into the earth, visualizing roots coming down from my body into the ground below.

Now for the New Year’s ritual:

Review the year: What did you learn? What was challenging? What were your proudest moments? Write down a list of the year’s top highlights. This can be the good parts, the messy parts, the difficult bits that made you come out stronger. Give thanks for all.

On a separate piece of paper list some things that you want to leave behind in the old year, such as any negative habits or behavior. In a way that feels right to you, let go of these things, some ideas are to burn the paper, rip it up or bury it.

Set intentions for the new year: Now that you have said goodbye to last year, you can start setting conscious intentions for the new year ahead. Write intentions on different pieces of paper, for each intention/goal, think about how you hope that this will make you feel. For example “I intend to push my comfort zone and do at least one thing that scares me a week. I hope that this will make me feel more confident, adventurous and happy.”

Once you have written all your intentions and the corresponding feelings, bundle them all up together, whether in a box or wrapped up tied with a ribbon. Hold them in your hands and feel them. Meditate on what this new year means to you, what you hope it will look like and how you hope to grow. When you feel settled with your intentions keep them in a safe place where they can be referred to over the coming year.

Now you’re ready to do whatever it is you want to do to celebrate the potential that this New Year has to offer and to celebrate all that has come before with love and gratitude : )

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© Jasmine Irving

L’île Intense – learning to let go in Réunion Island

They call this place l’île intense (the intense island). People are said to come here to escape, to leave their difficulties behind and get lost in the way time passes on a tropical island full of incredible natural surroundings. It flies past, before you know it one day becomes a month which becomes a year which becomes two…

But we all know you can’t run away from the past. What makes Réunion Island so special is that it never pretends you can just arrive and hide from everything that may have hurt you. The land here, the rich history, the open-minded and laid back attitude alongside the strong and breath taking mountains, the cascading waterfalls, they all offer a perfect place to let go.

I’ve met so many people here who are on their own unique life changing journeys. Whether you want to call it a spiritual, physical, existential or a-whatever-kind-of journey, we are all finding beauty in the world, in each other, in ourselves and it makes me want to roar with fierce joy.

Some were born here, taking their place amongst the melting pot of cultures and races. Others came meaning to stay for a few months and ended up never leaving. Many are just passing through before exploring other parts of the world. But the one thing everyone has in common is that they’re all brave enough to remain open to the way things unfold naturally without feeling the anxious need to try to control everything.

The more I myself stop trying so hard to get everything “right” and just go with it, the more positivity comes flooding into my life. I’ve been seeing an Ayurvedic practioner – Ayurveda is an ancient holistic form of healing developed in India – and she’s been encouraging me to open my heart and eyes to all that I’ve been hiding from. Various different teachers in life seem to appear just when they’re most needed and when I’m ready to hear their message. I met her at a day of “alternative living” on the sea front near my house. There were live local bands, organic fruit and veg stalls, community garden associations, health and well-being practioners and even a disco kitchen where volunteers danced and chopped organic veg to give out free soup to hungry passers-by.

There was also a stall with a knowledgeable, kind woman who had light shining out from her entire being. She is a raw vegetarian cook and teaches people how to heal through diet and nutrition. What’s more she runs women’s circles so I found myself in a circle of supportive sisters by the river side one day. All complete strangers to me and we spoke in French, a second language I’m still learning, but I felt so at home and safe singing, dancing and simply being with these wonderful women.

I don’t know if I have ever felt so settled in myself, so ready for whatever lies ahead. This was originally going to be a blog post about teaching English as a foreign language and about how living and working abroad can be great work experience. But that was all head stuff, this all came pouring out of the heart which is overflowing with gratitude for this island, for the opportunity to be here to learn and to grow, for all the people I’ve met along the way.

Thank you world, thank you life, thank you love!