The Tears of Last Year

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
~ Henry David Thoreau

A few years ago, I spent New Year's Eve in India with some new friends I had made while volunteering there. At midnight, my friend pulled out glasses of water and handed one to each of us. We were to think of the sadness and negativity of the past year, and then pour the water out. This simple gesture was meant to symbolize throwing out the tears of last year. Emptying one's cup of the accumulated negative energy in order for it to be filled again with whatever we choose to focus on in the coming year. This little ritual stuck with me since then and now, eight years later, I still take pleasure in emptying my cup at the beginning of every new year.

Wherever I am in all the hullaballoo surrounding the new year, I always try to take a moment at midnight to think about the negative energies of the past year that I would like to let go of. This year, I spent midnight with my husband and some friends, and after the customary champagne toast, I offered them all a glass of water, hoping to pay forward this little tradition that had inspired me so many years ago.

We all stepped outside into the crisp winter air for a moment, each with our own glass of water, and took a moment to think of the things we wanted to let go of. As I was thinking of the tears I wanted to leave behind in 2011, I stopped for a moment.

There it was: a permeating silence. The kind of beautiful silence that accompanies a moment of sincere reflection. It was a personal experience for each one of us, and although we were all standing there together, I knew we had each entered into our own universe for a moment. 

It was a beautiful thing.

After we poured our glasses out and went back into the house, a pervading peace surrounded us for a few moments. Everyone thanked me for introducing them to this ritual, and my heart soared a teeny bit. In a fast-paced world full of noise and action, I had managed to engage stillness and reflection in myself and also provide it to others, if just for one brief moment before we resumed the party.

Secretly, I think everyone needed it. In the rush of life, with the constant connectivity of technology, we so rarely take the time to be in silence. And months pass while we hold on to so many things and let them fester inside of us, even if we think we have let them go. But taking a moment to pay homage to our past and then to let it go is such a powerful practice - one that need not only be performed once a year.

What a wonderful way to start off the new year: with silence, surrender, and gratitude.
And an empty cup.

I feel rich beyond measure.

What negative energies do you want to leave behind in 2011?

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