September 29, 2022
The New Year and Setting your Intention
A “New Year” is more than a set date for the purpose of counting time. It ushers in the energy of renewal, rebirth, and a chance to wipe the slate clean. Tabula Rasa. To set your intention for the New Year is about letting go of all the baggage of the previous year - the worries, the stress, the disappointments, the hurts - and place your focus on what you want to attract into your life moving forward.
The most widely observed New Year is January 1st on the Gregorian calendar (called “the secular New Year” by most Jews). This New Year occurs eight days after Christmas, December 25th. Christmas is the day most Christians commemorate the birth of their savior. Eight days after birth is when a Jewish baby boy is circumcised and named and many Christian denominations (The Church of England, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican Church of Canada) celebrate this day with the Feast of the Circumcision. The Greek Orthodox church still marks Christmas by the old calendar, on January 7th. Their New Year falls on January 14th, eight days later.
The Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShana) is observed on the first two days of the month of Tishrei and it marks the beginning of our Days of Repentance. Jewish tradition has more than one “New Year”, but for the counting of time, we use Rosh HaShanah. The biblical name of this day is Yom Teru’ah (day of shouting or blasting) and biblically, it was a day of blowing the shofar and a holy day to G-d. It was also the start of the economic year of agriculture. We celebrate Rosh HaShanah joyously with prayers, festive meals that go long into the night, traditional foods that signify a variety of blessings for the year ahead, and a general sense of happiness and sweetness.
The secular New Year is marked by parties, music, drinking, dancing and a general vibe of revelry. The Jewish New Year is also celebratory, but the following days turn somber as we move into the Days of Repentance leading to Yom Kippur.
A classic way to begin the secular new year is to make a New Year’s Resolution. A resolution to do something different or “better” in the new year; a set goal that will be an improvement in some way. Resolutions such as starting a diet or exercise routine, quitting smoking, or waking up earlier are some common resolutions. I see these resolutions as a form of setting your intention for the new year. Your intention being the new behavior or goal you are striving toward.
The Jewish New Year isn’t marked with resolutions, per se, but there is a similar concept. The sounding of the shofar is our wake up call to repent for our misdeeds, to seek out those aspects of ourselves where we are falling short of our ideal and improve upon them. We begin this self examination in the days prior to Rosh Hashanah and consciously strive to become our new and improved selves in the days following so as to be inscribed in the Book of Life on Yom Kippur. This is about self-growth and being a better person and the aim is to continue this growth through the new year. In short, we are setting our intention for the year.
Setting your intention can be as superficial or as deep as you make it and it can be about more than self-growth; it can be about setting your goals and dreams and vision for the year ahead. What do you want to manifest in your life? What does your best life look like? Is it a more fulfilling career? Is it more time in nature? Is it becoming more social and participating more in your community? Is it pulling back from the rat race and allowing yourself more quiet time and space? Is it about healing relationships with family or welcoming new love into your life?
Setting your intention is deciding what you want the year ahead to look like and visualizing it daily. Start behaving as if your goal has already been achieved. Keep the image of your goal in mind as you go through your day. Allow yourself to feel the energy and the joy of already having what you seek to have. Visualize yourself at your new job; visualize yourself connecting with nature; visualize yourself laughing and mingling at events; visualize yourself relaxing and connecting inwardly; visualize yourself enjoying meaningful family time; visualize yourself and your partner laughing and loving and sharing.
Visualization is a key component of bringing your dreams and goals to fruition. It is not wasted time or new age mumbo jumbo. Don’t believe me? Try this little thought experiment. Spend a few minutes imaging a sexy scene. Whatever type of sexy scene is most likely to turn you on. You know what fantasizing is, right? So conjure up a sexual fantasy turn on for yourself and put yourself there for a few minutes. Notice anything? Notice how your body is reacting to that imaginary scene in your head? Notice how your pulse starts racing and your natural sexual response is activated? THAT is how powerful mental imagery is. There is no sexual fantasy occurring around you - it’s all in your head. And in your head is where you need to start visualizing what you want in your life.
Set your intention for 5783. Set your intention for your personal behavior and growth as well as your intention for the life you want to live and the relationships you want. Write them down, verbalize them, move through the world as if all you want is already yours, and visualize - visualize- visualize.
Happy New Year, my friends. May all your dreams come true.