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Friday, December 31, 2010

Contemplating the New Year

Making Meaningful New Year's Resolutions:
Once again, it's that time of year, New Year's Eve, when people usually take stock of their lives and make New Year's resolutions. Often, those resolutions include losing weight, going to the gym more often, and other specific goals.

Contemplating the New Year
Making Meaningful New Year's Resolutions in the Context of a Healthy Life:
As I've mentioned in the past, at least half of people who make New Year's resolutions abandon their resolutions within a few months into the New Year. Often, this is because their resolutions are focused too narrowly on a particular goal rather than in the larger context of their lives.

With some reflection and forethought, New Year's resolutions can be broadened so that they are more meaningful and encompass overall positive changes in our lives instead of being so narrowly focused.

For instance, instead of making a New Year's resolution to lose 20 lbs., it would be more beneficial to make a resolution to eat healthier and engage in healthy forms of exercise. While there's nothing wrong with making a resolution to lose a certain amount of weight, the chances for success are much greater if this type of resolution is made in the context of overall improvements to our health.

Making New Year's Resolutions to Improve Our Relationships:
New Year's resolutions tend to be about the person making the resolution. But, aside from making New Year's resolutions for ourselves, with some reflection, we can also think about how we can improve our relationships.

For instance, we can make a resolution to be more self compassionate and also more compassionate to our loved ones and other people that we meet.

We can also make resolutions to make amends to people in our lives that we have hurt, if this is appropriate for you and them and would not cause more harm than good.

Nyepi - "Day of Silence:"
I'm very interested in learning about how various cultures celebrate different holidays, and I discovered that in Bali, they celebrate their New Year in a completely different way as compared to most of the Western world.

Nyepi is known as the "Day of Silence" in Bali during the Balinese celebration of Isakawarsa (the Baliense New Year). It is part of the Hindu tradition in Bali.

They celebrate their New Year in March (this year it will be on March 5, 2011). Nyepi is a day of silence, meditation, and fasting. Even though this is a Hindu tradition, even people who are not Hindu in Bali stay indoors, including tourists.

This is a day for self reflection. There are no distractions, so there is no TV, no computers, no radios, no unnecessary conversation, no traveling, no entertainment, no work, and no lighting fires. Even the airports and the beaches are closed that day.

The day after Nyepi, which is called Ngembak Geni, is also considered New Year's, and social activity resumes again. This is a day when friends, family and loved ones gather to ask forgiveness from one another and to perform various religious rituals.

Other religious, like Judaism and Christianity, also have times for atonement, which honor our relationships with the people in our lives.

We can learn a lot from other cultures without giving up the joy and revelry of the season. I especially like that the Balinese New Year is celebrated in silent contemplation followed by a day with loved ones where atonement is part of their social activities.

I am a licensed psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, Somatic Experiencing therapist, and EMDR therapist in NYC.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

photo credit: riptheskull via photopin cc

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