Personal Growth

How to Release 2020 and Welcome 2021

Guy standing against a half shadowed wall
Guy standing against a half shadowed wall

Congratulations, you made it through 2020! What a year it’s been! Pandemic, elections, natural disasters, racism, and so many other things which caused confusion, fear, and uncertainty. The Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

This past year has been pretty tough for most of us. Now it’s time to look up at the stars. No matter how challenging and chaotic this past year has been for you, it’s time to re-empower yourself and reignite your happiness, your balance, and your trust in life so that you can move forward with a renewed sense of purpose.

It’s easy to dwell on the past, but that never serves us. We need to accept whatever happened, let it go, and be free to create the best year yet in 2021. I’m sure, like me, you had a wide variety of emotions last year. There was much sadness for the many who suffered, confusion from the news reports, and frustration with the lockdowns and at our inability to do more to help. If not released, these emotions create stress in our physiology. Stress blocks the free flow of energy and information, leading to a breakdown of well-being in the mind and body. Possibly many more people suffered from these side effects of 2020 than caught the virus.

Releasing 2020

Before we dive fully into the New Year, let’s do a simple exercise to start releasing whatever we don’t need to carry any more. Let’s see if we can clean the slate and make space for the many wonderful and exciting things that await us. You can do this exercise with your eyes open or closed.

  • Think back over last year. Pick an event or situation that was troubling for you.
  • What emotions are arising in you? Name them.
  • Where are you feeling the emotion in your body? Maybe some tightness or discomfort in your chest? Emotions always show up in the body. This is the stress forming. Be aware of your body and breathe into the sensation.
  • Now, take responsibility for these emotions. They are your emotions. No matter what happened, what anyone else or you did, you choose to feel the way you do. Because you chose to feel it, you can choose to release it and open the door to happier emotions. Allow your breath to soften it, to release the emotion.
  • If you wish, you can increase the speed and force of your exhale. Blow the emotion out.

You can repeat this exercise as often as necessary, anytime last year’s painful emotions surface. In time, they will become less frequent. Remember: What’s broken can be mended, what hurts can be healed, and no matter how dark it’s been, the sun is going to rise again. Anytime you feel you’ve released something from the past, reward yourself. Do something fun to celebrate.

Gratitude for 2020

And no matter how dark 2020 was, I’m sure there were times of happiness, moments when the sun broke through the clouds.

  • Take a few moments and reflect back over the year. Try not to get stuck with any of the challenges. Look for the things you’re grateful for. They could be things you experienced personally or the people you never met who worked selflessly all year.
  • Now take one or two of those things and bring them into your heart. Feel the warmth of gratitude in your heart.
  • Send a silent “Thank you” to whoever made that feeling possible.

Whenever the memories of the challenges arise, replace them with those moments of gratitude.

Welcoming the New Year

Now that you’ve cleared some space, what do you want to fill it with? How do you want the new year to unfold? What new opportunities do you want to explore?

What’s important here is to not go back to the same old stuff. From a karmic perspective, the collective consciousness and the collective ways of doing things are what created the turbulence of 2020. However you want to look at it, 2020 was a huge karmic clear out for the human race. The worst thing you can do is to now recreate that karma all over again by going back to the same habits and conditioning. The Vedas tell us that the gateways of hell are anger, lust, and greed. These gates have been open for too long, it’s not surprising what escaped. Now it’s time to closed them.

2021 brings us a wonderful opportunity to create the world you want to live in and the life you want to lead. Be bold with your desires—wimpy desires create wimpy lives. What you put your attention on grows so focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want. Any fears and doubts will take you back into the past so believe in yourself. You are infinite possibilities. Let’s put this into practice with another exercise. This is best done with your eyes closed or you can keep them open.

  • Let’s look into the future. How do you want 2021 to unfold? For yourself, friends and family, and the world as a whole?
  • Imagine yourself six months from now. How do you want things to like look for your life and for the world?
  • Imagine it’s this time next year. You’re looking back over 2021. How do you want the year to have been? How do you see yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually?
  • Now bring your awareness into your heart area. The heart knows the path of love, whereas the ego is where you get lost in doubts and confusion. Silently ask the following questions and then listen to the answers from your heart.
    • What are my desires for my home, finances, and personal possessions?
    • What do I want for my family and loved ones?
    • How do I want my mind and body to be?
    • How do I want my spiritual journey to unfold?
    • How do I want my community and the world to be?
  • Being attached to the outcome of a desire limits it and blocks the possibility of something even more magnificent. Imagine you’re releasing all those desires into the silence of infinite organizing power and letting the universe deliver the perfect gifts.
  • Write down your desires. You can group them like we just did or as one list. Read them before your meditations and before you sleep at night, then let them go. Allow the faint impression of them to be carried within and planted, like a seed, in the most fertile field of your consciousness.

The start of a new year is your opportunity to rise higher than ever before. In your essence, you are the totality of the universe. You are equal to everyone. Remain unaffected by what anyone says, and nothing can harm you unless you allow it.

The head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, Swami Chidanand Saraswati tells us, “Our purpose is to live up to our full, divine potential as conscious, holy beings. So, let us pledge to always remember what our purpose is—to live lives of purity, peace, selflessness, integrity, and love—and let us never allow anyone to divert us from that goal.”

There may still be challenges in 2021, but nothing you can’t handle. Be bold with your desires, anything is possible. Always strive for the best, you deserve it. And know, we will be here supporting you.

Wishing you a safe, happy, healthy, and peaceful year. Namaste.

Join Chopra Chief Meditation Officer, Roger Gabriel, on the Chopra iPhone app for a FREE 7-day program designed to help you regain balance as you enter the new year. Through daily meditations and inspirations, you'll learn to let go and create space for the new, while nourishing mind, body, and spirit.