ReNew Year

New Year's Eve 2014 at Tsukiji Hongan-ji
New Year’s Eve 2014 at Tsukiji Hongan-ji

As this was my first time being in Japan for New Year’s Eve, I wanted to do as the locals do. I went to Tsujiki Hongan-ji Temple for Joya No Kane or the ringing of the bells. The Buddhist service held prior to the bell ringing is an opportunity to express upon one’s gratitude for the previous year and is a time to think about life and all that makes it possible. The bells are rung 108 times as a ritual of purification from the 108 evil desires that humans suffer from on earth. As midnight approaches, the bells are rung 107 times in the old year, with the last toll of the bell marking the beginning of the new year at midnight.

Even if you don’t share this particular spiritual belief, the ritual is a great reminder that sometimes we all need a fresh start. What better time to seek renewal than the start of a new year? If you’re not sure where to start here are a few tips:
Maintenance
Step up your self care. Do something to recharge your batteries. That could mean anything from taking a long, candle-lit soak in the tub or treating yourself to a walk in your favorite park. For others it might mean planning and actually taking a vacation. Self care doesn’t have to be a huge gesture, just the cumulative effect of caring for yourself in small ways on a regular basis. What small things can you do for yourself that will make a big impact?

Reconnection
The new year isn’t always about bringing in the new. Renewal can often be found by returning what is already there. Make a pledge to reconnect with pieces of yourself that you have let go or covered up. For instance, if you used to love writing, but have put your notepad aside, set a goal of journaling or writing for yourself at least once a week. Come up with a specific time for your new-old activity and make sure to keep your appointment with yourself.

Seek Spirit
Spiritual practice is key to renewing ourselves. Spiritual practice is connection to that which is greater than you as an individual. For some that something greater is defined as God, for others it is represented in respecting the humanity of the people they encounter or experiencing nature. If you were reared in a particular religious or spiritual tradition you may already have your renewal go-to. It might be a hymn, a prayer or meditation or a favorite verse from your faith’s religious text. If you’re not religious in the traditional sense, selecting a favorite poem or quote that inspires or singing along to an uplifting song can help to refresh your mind. Try volunteer work–serving with a community organization that supports a cause you care about can be a great way to get us outside of ourselves and connected to others.

Happy New Year!!!

Published by Envision-ings

Aziza E. Jones is a licensed clinical social worker with 10 years of experience working in elite medical institutions, community based mental health and Military communities in the United States and abroad. Her work in Europe and Asia has had a profound impact on how she views herself and the role she plays in both her local and global community. She is passionate about improving the lives of individuals and communities as they journey towards wholeness and well-being while striving to secure social justice. Ms. Jones is a highly skilled mental health clinician, an innovative thought leader in understanding cultural competence as it relates to mental health, and an educator of new and established mental health service providers. She holds a MSW degree from the premier Smith College School for Social Work and has been recognized by the Smith College Executive Standing Committee for originality and exploring new perspectives in Clinical Social Work research with her Master's Thesis entitled, Humor as Resilience: African-American Stand-up Comedy and Collective Identity. Aziza is a native of Maryland and was reared in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

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