This offering comes to you between nature’s year-end, the solstice, when the northern hemisphere leans deeply toward darkness and away from the sun, and the Gregorian calendar’s year end, when western society marks the passing of a new annum. As winter holds us in her dark and quiet embrace, it's a time for a pause and reflection. In this precious moment, we can take inventory, learn from 2023, select the right things for composting, and reset our sights. This goes far beyond recommitting to a diet or flossing. We can learn more about our true selves and purpose, setting intentions to renew and rise in the next cycle!
We invite you to celebrate this time and take even just a few hours to go inward, pause and reflect. While in the West our society scarcely pauses commerce for a day or two of holiday, the natural world takes a deep pause at this time of year. Trees stand bare, bears slip into a long Dreamtime, and the earth seems to exhale. The depth of winter is like yin yoga, or a long savasana when we can bear witness to the natural passing of another year, and restore ourselves for growth and rejuvenation.
For those that can create the space, we invite you to enjoy a preferred yoga flow, perhaps something low impact, followed by a meditation, then settle in to the following journaling exercise. Don’t feel pressure to get through all 20: do them all, or select the ones that inspire you the most. Have fun with it!
Highlights and Lowlights
1. List three words that could best describe the themes of this past year.
2. Going back through your calendar, what were the most significant highlights of the year?
3. What were the most difficult things about this year?
4. It’s easy to forget what we got done. What were some things that seemed incredibly difficult in January, but you accomplished in the end? (These don’t have to be traditional ‘to-do’ checklist items.) What enabled you to persevere and succeed in these areas, or what did you learn?
5. What are you most proud of from the year?
6. Is there anything that needs to be let go of, or anything that needs to be forgiven? It could include something that is not working, or even something you want to forgive yourself for.
7. Where have you found inspiration and strength this year? It may be some kind of book or media, yoga, nature, a wise friend or mentor, theater, music… What brought you joy, love, and expansiveness?
8. List 10 things that you are grateful for in 2023. It could include something out there in the world, something someone did, or just the presence of a person or thing.
People and Relationships
9. What were your most important relationships this year? (For example family, friends, romantic, business, pets, or other).
10. Are there any relationships or relationship patterns that have improved? How did you achieve that improvement? Any ‘aha’ moments?
11. What were the toughest relational moments, and how did they make you feel? What did you learn?
12. Are there any ways that you would you like to change how you do relationships next year? Any trends that you’d like to strengthen or compost?
13. Is there something you would like to say to someone, or maybe a few things things to a few people? It could be something you might like to get off your chest, or make sure they know. You don’t have to actually tell them if you are not ready, but write it down now.
Time Well Spent
14. List the activities you most treasured during the year. What did you spend time on that had an outsized impact on your happiness?
15. What activities ended up being a detriment, took up too much time, or did not pan out?
16. Drawing on the last two questions, where would you like to spend more time and energy in 2024, and where would you like to reduce? List at least four of each (4 to increase, 4 to decrease).
17. Do you feel like you have a special purpose, or mission statement in life? Write out a brief description of it. If you don’t have a specific purpose in mind, you can list values that you want to live by. This is your chance to manifest, so think of a vision that brings you great joy.
18. What are 5 things you can do this year that will bring you closer to this purpose?
19. Where we spend our time is not necessarily what we will remember most at the end of our life. Do you have a bucket list? List 2-4 achievable bucket list items that you’d like to do in 2024, that would be memorable at the end of your life. Dare to think big! Get specific, and choose when you would like to do them. When you are finished here, put them on your calendar.
20. Write a letter to yourself, stating the accomplishments or ways you are most proud of yourself from 2023, your intentions of what you’ve decided to sunset from 2023, what you would like to see more of in 2024. Sign and date it! This is a promise to yourself.
As we mindfully transition into the new year, remember that our yoga mats create more than a physical space – they are a companion on our introspective journey – a direct phone line to ourselves and our purpose. Throughout the year, come back to the mat to help yourself get back in touch, and dial up the things we’ve reflected on here. Personal growth is a gift not just to you, but to those around you, allowing you to be more present and generous. Let’s enter the new year with intention, purpose, and a metta-filled heart!
While researching these questions we were most strongly inspired by the “Year Compass” exercise, by Invisible University International.