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Burn and Release: A New Year’s Ritual

There are no shortages of resolutions coming at you by now: join this gym! Do this cleanse!

Do this with me: stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, place both hands over your lower abdomen, take a nice, deep big breath in through your nose, and like you’re blowing out a candle, exhale it out through your mouth.


I find the start of the New Year a less-than-ideal time to start making big commitments and changes in our lives. And our bodies, which follow nature’s clock, likely agree.

The New Year begins at the start of winter, which is a time for rest. Our bodies are in sync with the seasons and environment, and trying to go hard with something like a hard-core gym regimen or strict diet sends the wrong signal to our internal world.

With the solstice just last week, our bodies instead are wired to turn inward, slow down, nourish, replenish, and rest. Lining our actions up with these principles honors these natural inclinations.

Burn and Release Ritual

Instead of piling on, over-committing, or adding stress, a “burn and release” ritual offers a moment to simply let go. It is quick, simple, and cleansing. As you let go and release what is no longer needed you make room for the new to usher in.

Grab a friend to do this with you, because it’s always more powerful – and fun! – with a friend.

Here’s how to do your own burn and release ritual:

  1. Grab a piece of paper (I like these flying prayer papers, because they fly when you light them, but any paper will do) and list 3 things that you want to let go of. These are fears, worries, habits, emotions, time spent on unnecessary drama or people who bring you down, things that eat up your thoughts on a day-to-day basis that have you stuck (I call these cul-de-sac thoughts or actions, because they literally have you going nowhere). Just anything your soul knows does not serve you. 
  2. At the bottom of the paper, write the words: “I thank you for your lessons, and now I release you and anything else that doesn’t serve my soul for 2023.” 
  3. Now, take out another piece of paper. On it, write three things you’d like to usher in or experience more of in 2023. These are intentions, relationships, feelings and habits. This might sound like: “I’d like to bring more JOY into my life in 2023, I’d like to spend more time with like-minded people, I’d like to open my heart to love and healing, I’d like to radicalize my own self-care, I’d like to celebrate life more, I’d like to make room for adventure and spontaneity.” 
  4. Next, go outside to a firepit, or using a fire-safe bowl, carefully burn that first piece of paper. As it burns, say out loud: “I thank you for your lessons, and now I release you and anything else that doesn’t serve my soul for 2023.” 
  5. As it continues to burn, read the second piece of paper with your intentions for the New Year. Save this paper, and put it somewhere you can see it each day, like on your bathroom mirror, over a desk, or on your refrigerator. 

Be intentional about this, and make it a meaningful ritual. You may want to set the mood, bring photos of your ancestors, or ground yourself in any way that feels right for you. 

You can decorate the paper, you can make a party out of it, or you can keep it simple with pencil and paper – go with your mood, but the important thing is to do it. 

It’s a powerful start releasing what’s no longer needed that will usher in a cleansed, happy, and fulfilled year ahead, with lots of room for love and magic. Happy New Year!


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