This Silent Sunday is the last one of a year that leaves a distinctly undefinable taste in the mouth of experience. Call it bitter, perhaps with a touch of balancing sweetness; label it overbearing, or hold out for the faint notes of hope; rail at the sour, or ease it with a dose of comforting spice. However the year seemed to you, whatever circumstances surprised you, the end of this particular cycle is nigh: In 5 days, a New Year with a new “flavor profile” begins.
In an effort to create a recipe for a very different outcome in 2021, today’s practice begins with prep work: a gathering of ingredients to clear body and environment. Come Dec. 31, 2020, you will be prepared to bid farewell to what was, and open arms (and heart) to what will be.
First, if you do not already have a sage bundle, find one at a local natural grocer or apothecary. Barring that, a sage essential oil soy candle or incense may be substituted.
Next on the list are two teas: One will be have a detoxifying purpose; the other will brighten and fortify. For the former, try ginger, fennel, dandelion root, or lemon. It also can be fun to experiment with combinations of these, or others to which you are drawn. For the New Year welcoming tea, tune in to your senses and mental state: Mint teas will simultaneously boost and soothe; piquant spices will awaken and strengthen.
For example, a blend of peppermint, spearmint, and vanilla assures a calm release and hopeful welcome of ’20 and ’21, respectively. An equally effective, but different intention of striding forward with impenetrable optimism could be created with cinnamon, pepper, and honey. The intuitive process of selecting the teas acts as a warm-up exercise for the clearing and empowering practice to come.
Finally, determine a sound bath in which today’s movements and meditation will take place. You may have a recording of gong, bowls, or chimes that you enjoy: There are also a multitude of online options. Recently, I have been using hertz Solfeggio frequencies to address physical pain; You Tube, for example, has a vast array for your specific energetic concern. Regardless, choose an ambience that will nurture the intention to move out of 2020 with grace and awareness, and into 2021 with renewed spirit and faith.
And now the practice…
To begin, open whatever window will allow fresh air to circulate in the immediate area. (Even a slight crack in the coldest of climes will serve the purpose.) Now, first tea in hand, stand in the center of your space, i.e., the middle of a mat or of a room. With eyes closed, sip slowly: As the liquid moves through your lips and over the tongue, envision snapshots of the moments that marked your 2020. As the tea slips down your throat, allow the warmth to guide those freeze-frames out of your realm. Sip only as much and as long as you feel is necessary to acknowledge and release the essence of the past year.
When you are ready, set aside the tea. Take your mind to the soles of the feet: Inhale deeply, and then exhale as you lift one foot and shake it. As exhalation ends, replace the foot; inhale, then exhale to shake the other. Continue this breath with progressive shaking up through each leg, then each hand and arm, and then one, big, full-body shake.
Now, light the sage bundle (or candle or incense). With it in one hand, extend both arms straight to the sides at shoulder level: Breathing deeply and consciously, turn 4 times to the left (counter-clockwise); then, turn 5 times to the right. (Four is the numerological equivalent of 2020; 5 stands in for 2021. Turning left releases; turning right draws in.)
Then, face North. With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, draw a large infinity sign (a sideways figure 8) in front of you; repeat 8 times. Again, with deep, steady breathing, repeat this movement to the East, South, and West. Finally, draw the largest Infinity symbol through the air all around you, sage in hand, faint trails of smoke imbuing the space. Make 8 signs at any angle and on any level that intuitively appeals to you.
Next, set aside the still-burning sage source; keep it close by, but allow some space between it and your sitting spot. Turn on the sound bath that you have selected, and then move into your favorite seated posture. Begin Sufi Grinds: This classic kundalini movement appears in nearly any practice that aims to dispel or detoxify energy. Allow the pelvis to rock and shift as you circle the entire torso to the right (clockwise): Inhale as the body moves through the front space; exhale as the back rounds and circles into the rear half of the circumference. Move as slowly as you need, with deep, powerful breath: As the spine and hips warm up, you may find that you can speed up the circling. Continue in this direction for 2 minutes. Then, reverse direction for another 2 minutes.
Still seated, begin large criss-crosses with your arms. Open and close the arms out to the sides and then in front, crossing the arms as they come in front: Move this open-close pattern up and down in your front space, as low as the floor, and as high as straight overhead. Continue at a steady, strong pace for 3 minutes. (Take a brief break to shake out or massage the arms if necessary; then immediately return to the movement designed to clear the magnetic field around you.)
Now, lean back on your elbows, and extend both legs into the air. Begin to alternately kick your bottom: Inhale through open, rounded lips; exhale through the rounded mouth as the left heel contacts the rear. Inhale that leg up; exhale as the right heel kicks its butt. Continue the open-mouth breath; move rapidly, so that the breath becomes nearly a Breath of Fire through the rounded lips. Alternate the bottom kicks for 3 minutes.
Rise up off the elbows, and extend the legs straight ahead. Guide yourself into a gentle forward bend. Use the posture to quiet and soften, and to contemplate the emotional and spiritual qualities that you aim to establish in the coming year. Breathe deeply and calmly here for 3-5 minutes.
When you are ready, sit up. Rise to close the window, turn off the sound bath, and to retrieve the second cup of tea. Return to seated. With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, dip your thoughts into the brew. Infuse the tea with the intentions you established in the forward-bend contemplation. Then, drink slowly and reverently from the cup; welcome the beneficial energies of the elixir as they permeate your cleared inner environment.
After a few symbolic sips, move the tea aside, and settle into Svasana. Remain here for as long as feels right to you on this particular day. When your rest feels complete, rise slowly; perhaps enjoy the remainder of the 2021 tea as you look to the future with steadfast faith in the plan of the Universe and of the Divine.
Happy Sunday, and Happy New Year…