As the near year rolls in, I thought this a fitting start for this blog — a post about new beginnings! I love a new start and often find myself fantasizing that I move to some distant place, start over somewhere where no one knows me, and I can live as a delightful eccentric, befriended by all my quirky neighbors and loved by all. Sound familiar? While the details may be a little different in your mind, if you’ve landed on this page, chances are you understand these sentiments because you’ve drifted to those places in many a daydream. So what can we do about it?
Often, that inner bohemian spirit will mean we’re restless, seeking change and new horizons. There’s an inner “itch” to see newer pastures and find the next adventure, town, or experience. Since I’m a practical gal, I challenge that we instead go on an inner journey. Often that desire we feel is really a big clue directing us towards inner movement. While these tips can be used at any time, the new year is always a great time to start new practices as we’re usually more receptive to them around this time.
Below are 3 ideas for simple things you can try that can help to shake the cobwebs off the old year and make room for new opportunities for your growth and fulfillment. I recommend all boho-lovers keep an open mind. We’re nothing if not lovers of trying new things, right?
There’s nothing quite like epic, transcendent music to transport us to new heights, release tears when we need to, unlock some secret compartment of our hearts (that only we know about), shower us in bliss, and generally lift us beyond ourselves. Music can even carry us beyond the mundane and into the spiritual realm — that part of our self that is hungry for divine connection.
Many of us have a longing for flying and soaring, or sitting in rapture on the top of a mountain or a far shore. You know that feeling. You can go there, right this instant with music.
Use music in the new year to awaken all the parts of yourself you’ve been afraid to deal with or let shine. Use the music to bring up and let go of things that help you back last year. Use the music to awaken and inspire you in the new year.
Below are 3 suggestions to help you bask in the “possible.” You’ll notice that none of them are in English. I did that on purpose. In order to dive deeply, sometimes we have to turn off our brain and just be in the moment. I suggest you turn off the lights, light a scented candle or three, lie back, cover your eyes with a piece of soft cloth, and just listen. Or feel free to move instead of lying down!
- MARIA CALLAS – “Mon Coeur S’ouvre a Ta Voix” – from the Samson and Delilah Opera – The first line translates to, “My heart opens to your voice like the flowers open to the kisses of dawn.” Sigh. It’s a gorgeous song and sitting in the dark, blasting this while you let it wash over you, is a gift. The most gripping part is when she desperately pleads, “Respond to my tenderness!” While there are technically better opera singers, (for me) none can reproduce the raw emotion of Callas. Enjoy!
- KRISHNA DAS – “Om Namah Shivaya” – Lord Shiva is a divine being, one among the main trinity of gods in the Hindu pantheon, and he is known as the destroyer of ignorance. Sound intense? It is, but in a good way. It’s a powerful mantra for tearing down all that no longer serves us, connecting with our higher self, and emerging empowered. This is also a great song if you prefer to DANCE it out rather than lie down.
- GYPSY KINGS – “Montaña” – A song that wistfully declares, “I goooooooo walking to the mountain where I was born.” It easily transports us to Spain or some other gorgeous land. It has a feeling of returning to that place from where we came, or to that place our hearts call home. Seriously. Blast this one and take a mini voyage… (Also, this video has footage of Cuba, a truly boho place!)
Don’t stop here! You might have a fun song that is your “jam” that makes you happy, but for this exercise, try picking songs that touch and awaken your heart and uplift you! Think of it as as a kind of “reboot.”
I know, I know. Everyone is all up in your business telling you how great meditation is. Umm, that’s cuz IT IS. Seriously, if you only have time for one self-care, life-changing activity per day, this is it.
Meditation is great because you can participate it in it no matter what you believe in. It’s there for anyone from any faith system. It’s about the soul. And even if you don’t believe in that, it’s for your well-being, your consciousness, your peace. Also, it reduces stress. I think we could all use a little of that!
The confusing thing about meditation is that everyone has (relatively strong) opinions on it and what is the best way. The truth is that even if their way works, it may not speak to you. There are many options out there and at least one will work for you. I suggest setting a minimum of 5 minutes per day for yourself (this means you will likely need to set aside 10 minutes total so you can set yourself up and then do it). This can even be scheduled at bedtime. Drifting off to sleep right afterwards is totally legal. 😉
If you’re lost and just want some direction, I encourage any newbie to try a simple meditation as follows:
- Make sure your meditation space is as “distraction-free” as possible (wear headphones if it’s too noisy, grab an eye-covering if it’s too bright)
- Turn off or dim the lights, close curtains, shut out the world as much as possible
- Either play music or lie in silence, using headphones, earbuds, or earplugs may help you to concentrate
- Option 1: Say a little prayer or ask the Universe for long-held wish. Close your eyes and imagine the wish coming true; make it as detailed as possible.
- Option 2: Choose one (simple) mantra or affirmation. Memorize it. Then either play a recording of it and listen, or try to say it over and over in your mind or aloud. Examples could be: OM, I Am Powerful, I Forgive, I Let Go Now, I Am Becoming _____ etc. You don’t need to say or think it constantly as if in a hurry; let there be space between them.
- Allow yourself time to visualize or repeat the affirmation. If your mind strays, try to bring it back to it (over and over) or see where it takes you.
- Option 3: Find some meditation music or a guided meditation (plenty of choices on YouTube). Lay down, listen, and see where it takes you.
- I highly recommend lying in silence for 1 minute afterward and letting it sink in. Thank yourself. Get up and maybe have a nice cup of tea, drink some water, or go to bed.
A few words on progress: As Americans, we are really tied to quick results. I encourage the letting go of any expectations and self-critiques. Like many great rewards in life, personal progress takes time and is cumulative. As they say, enjoy the journey!
This is a simple practice, but since many of you might not have sage available at home, try get a small “wand” or bundle of it to get started.
Sage is a miraculous herb revered by indigenous cultures as having the properties to clear spaces, dispel darkness, and remove stagnant, foreign energies we may have acquired (either from ourselves or from interacting with others in our daily lives), and is even used in healing ceremonies.
If you have collected some of this energy, “washing” in this smoke can bring great relief and a feeling of peace. Being free of that residual energy may make things clearer. You may be angry and suddenly, the anger may be clear up just as a dark cloud that drifts away from the Sun reveals the light.
Safety first: Please practice safety when lighting anything in your home. I highly recommend using a fire-safe container to hold or catch the ashes and embers.
The process is simple, you light a piece or portion of white sage (a wand, bundle or even just a few single pieces). Once it’s lit, wait a few seconds, then blow on it very gently to put out the flame, but let it smoke/smoulder. Resist the urge to blow too strongly as the embers will go everywhere. You won’t need too much smoke for this and as soon as you are done, you can put it out and reuse it later.
Let the smoke wash over you or use your hands or a feather to gently bring the smoke toward you. There is no need to breathe deeply. It helps if in your mind’s eye, you see yourself and your space being cleared, or alternatively, ask for it to be cleared. Ask that the energy of the last year be released to make way for new opportunities.
You can also walk the lit sage (inside a container) through your home. If your rental lease does not allow smoking or incense, you may opt to perform the “saging” or “smudging” outside, next to an open window or door, or even with the kitchen vent turned on.
Remember, sage is not incense. You light it while you’re using it, then put it out (you can press the end of the wand on an ash tray/container to smother it) and save the rest for next time.
I hope you have found these suggestions helpful to kick-start an amazing new year! I’d love to hear from you — what are your favorite epic songs to help you dive deep within? What are your New Year’s rituals?
Photo (top of page) by Amy Treasure on Unsplash