Today, Monday, September 6, 2021, at sundown marks the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that begins High Holy Days (or High Holidays). It’s a time of reflection and fresh starts, a time when we can set intentions and renew commitments for the coming year.
This commitment to renewal isn’t exclusive to Rosh Hashanah and Jews. Many, if not most, cultures have something similar. In fact it sounds much like the resolutions many of us make on January 1st, doesn’t it? So today, I want to talk about this idea of sort of “renewing” or “re-commiting” each year.
A common intention for Rosh Hashanah is “… may my own burdens be released, and may I welcome in the flow of health, joy and peace.” Personally, this is something I practice most days through my lovingkindness meditation, and for others, having a reminder like New Year’s Day, your birthday or an important anniversary is a great time to return to that intention, to refocus on bringing equity and justice to all of humanity.
The intention also reminds us that it’s a time to cast off those burdens we’ve carried with us for the past year – challenges in our own lives as well as the struggles of the world at large. It’s hard to move forward when you’re carrying a bunch of excess baggage, so now’s the time to let that stuff go.
This has been an exceptionally challenging year. Most of us have felt grief, fear, anger or regret, all those emotions that weigh us down. No one is immune to these feelings. The trick here is not to give them too much power. Remember that, no matter what, there is always hope, that belief that a better world is possible. For more on hope read my article, “The Wisdom of Hope.”
So, no matter if you’re religious, spiritual or atheist, let’s use this time as a reminder to set some intentions and renew our commitments for a peaceful world. Here are some ideas to get you started:
I’ll start with the obvious. People who meditate have less stress and more peace in their lives. A pretty good return on just 5 or 10 minutes a day, I’d say.
Spend time in Nature
Okay, obvious tip #2. Nature helps you on so many levels including creating a sense of being connected to all living things.
Care for yourself
Okay, I’m going to say it again: when you care for yourself, you are better able to care for others. I may sound like a broken record, but it’s true. You can refer to the old analogy from the airlines about putting your air mask on before you help someone else.
Giving of yourself helps you to be more compassionate. Share your time, resources and talents with those who would most benefit.
Keep a gratitude journal
People who practice gratitude are happier, less stressed and see the positive in the world. That’s not to say they’re Pollyannas, they just don’t get bogged down in negativity.
Spend some time, just you and your thoughts, and maybe a pen and paper, and ask yourself some questions about moving into a new year:
- Which burdens from the past year do you wish to cast off?
- As you set down this load, what do you hope to make space for in your life?
- What makes you feel renewed and rejuvenated?
- What are your dreams and aspirations for the year ahead?
Shanah tovah everyone, and may the new year bring you sweetness, laughter and health.