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Stepping into 2014 with intention

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Welcome to 2014! In numerology, 2014 is a "7 Year," which very simplistically represents the search for truth. This is a year for self-exploration and spiritual contemplation. Living a spiritual life certainly requires one to be willing to look deeply and ask difficult questions. Various religious traditions invite believers to participate in an Examination of Conscience as a way to prepare for reconciling oneself with God. Taking stock of one's life in such a manner can be enlightening and open the door to the positive change that many seek at the beginning of a new year.

The common practice of making resolutions, while still appealing to some, seems to have lost a lot of significance over time. A local radio announcer expressed a shared sense of dismay about resolutions recently, commenting on the fact that most people are not successful in keeping resolutions and mocking the notion of making a resolution at all. What seems to be missing from resolution-making, aside from true commitment, is true mindfulness. The most important commitments and promises that people make in their lives are typically paired with a ritual of some sort. Couples speak vows before witnesses to become married. Elected officials take an oath as they enter office. Christians are baptized and confirmed. American Indians burn sage or sweet grass in cleansing rituals. Spiritual transformation is accompanied by sign and symbol, engaging the senses and fostering an attitude of mindfulness.

As the new year begins, taking time to reflect on the past and imagine the future can really be a powerful observance of the passage of time. Author Patti Digh, in a recent newsletter (From My Orange Desk) encouraged her readers to take time to answer the following questions: 1) What do I want or need to let go of as I enter this new year? 2) What do I want to create in this new year? Answering these questions allows one to step into the new year with a focused intention to toss out whatever is no longer working, to squelch limiting beliefs, and to escape destructive patterns of behavior. As well, the practice invites one to look upon the new year with a belief in the possibility it holds and a sense of empowerment that comes from claiming one's creative energy.

A burning bowl ceremony (popular in Reiki practice) can be a meaningful way to begin 2014. Participants write something they want to release on a small piece of paper and take turns burning the papers in a cauldron. As the paper burns and the smoke fades into the ether, each person witnesses the negative energy disappear into nothingness. This ritual can be followed by the lighting of commitment candles with each participant speaking his or her commitment to create something new and brilliant in the new year.

These first weeks of 2014 are a great time to exercise intention and light the way for a brilliant year.Whatever your spiritual tradition or religious beliefs, I hope you will take some time to welcome 2014 in a meaningful way and in a way that will bring more peace and light to our troubled world. Blessings!

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