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As 2017 draws to a close and the winter solstice approaches, it is a great opportunity for teens to reflect on the past year, to acknowledge, honor, and release all that has happened.  This also creates a clean space for the new to come in, once the old has been released.

Here is a 6-step process for guiding your students through a releasing ritual in your last class of the year (and a great exercise to do for yourself, as well!):

  1. Opening Centering Practice: Begin by having students come to a comfortable seated position.  With the gaze downward or eyes closed, have students inhale to a slow count of three, and exhale to the count of 5. 
  2. Journaling Activity: After a few minutes of the opening meditation, have students slowly open their eyes and begin reflecting on the past year. 
    1. At the top of a clean sheet of paper, ask your students to write down things that went well in the past year—accomplishments, joys, successes, breakthroughs, celebrations, etc.
    2. On the back side of the paper, have students write things that didn’t go well in the past year—setbacks, disappointments, losses, and failures.
    3. On a separate sheet of paper, ask students to write down everything they learned from both their positive and negative experiences in the next year.
  3. Sharing: After completing the journaling activity, sit in a circle with your students and ask if anyone would like to share any of their positive or challenging experiences in the past year, and what they learned from those experiences.  Reflect with the students whether they grew more from their wins or hardships.
  4. Releasing Ritual: After finishing the journaling exercise and discussion, students can physically release the sheet of paper with their successes and losses in the past year.  There are lots of ways they can release the paper—they can tear it up and throw it in the trash or recycling, put it through a paper shredder, cut it up with scissors, etc.  I would avoid letting teens burn it however, as teens and fire aren’t always a great combination. ;)
  5. Deep Relaxation: Guide students through a relaxation lying on their backs in which you have them imagine they are releasing any worries, burdens, or negative feelings from the past year from their physical body, with each exhalation.
  6. Closing Circle: To close the class, sit in a circle and ask each student to share something they are grateful for in their life.

Many blessings and warm wishes for a holiday season filled with love, peace, and joy!

Erin Lila Singh