“Destiny, I feel, is also a relationship—a play between divine grace and willful self-effort.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Life is not a straight line. Of course, many of us were not taught this. Life, we were told, is an upward climb and happiness waiting for us, like that proverbial pot of gold, at the mountain’s crest. Yet experience demonstrates that this isn’t the case. Something happens and we’re thrown off balance, often unexpectedly. We feel we’re not “on schedule.” The truth is, we don’t have control over the hows or, even, the whens, despite our ego’s grasping. There is always a bit of mystery involved, some kind of grace. And sometimes, we have exactly what we thought we wanted, what we thought would make us happy and still we’re left wanting, in search of something more. Whatever our circumstances, we have the power to shift our experience.
To this point, each month provides us with two opportunities to align with our most heartfelt yearnings. These occur during the New Moon and the Full Moon. As every moon cycle is roughly 28 days, these happenings occur two weeks apart. In short, New Moons are for getting clear about what we want to manifest and for setting intentions, while Full Moons are for releasing what no longer serves us and for letting go.
Every New Moon, I gather with a group of women. Together, we meditate, journal, and formulate our wishes. By putting our intentions down on paper and sharing them aloud, we declare our desires to the Universe, thereby putting them in motion. Some of these are life changing, as in finding a partner, moving or embarking on a new career and some of these are more internal, desiring to show up differently, to express oneself more authentically. What we focus on is the feeling underneath because, after all, that’s what matters, that’s what we’re after—the feeling. In intention setting, this can be achieved through imagining oneself in the outcome. What details are present, for example? What smells, sounds, sights, and tastes are part of the scene? Who is there with you? Truth be told, the brain cannot distinguish between reality and a well-imagined fantasy. So by getting specific, we are priming our subconscious to lead us to the feeling we so desire: love, connection, freedom, peace. Whatever it is, allow it to be your guide. That’s where the magic is.
Two weeks later we experience the Full Moon, when the Sun and Moon are 180 degrees apart. This illumination often brings forward previously unacknowledged emotions. We become more aware during this time, allowing for clearing and healing. For example, we may become more emotional. We may experience a culmination of some sort. During the Full Moon, I will often engage in what some refer to as Free Form Writing. For 30 minutes, I will do nothing but write, allowing my subconscious to dictate what comes forth. When I am complete, I either burn the paper or throw it away (without re-reading it). This process creates space for setting intentions at the next New Moon. Other times, I will very deliberately write down any behavior or thought patterns that I am willing to let go of. Again, I will tear this paper up or burn it, releasing it and its contents in a declaration to move forward.
I have witnessed countless miracles occur as a result of these rituals. The very act of creating space and time for one’s own unfolding is self-honoring and nourishing. It allows us to get honest with ourselves and to course correct. Our days are so harried, so overbooked that we often forget to look inward, to revel in the silence and take note of our lives—and of where we want to go. These rituals offer us that very gift. Life, I have learned, is an inside job. It’s our lens we’re looking through. There’s a powerful responsibility that comes with that acknowledgement, but it’s worth owning because the truth is that by stopping, surrendering to the quiet and listening deep within, we can, in fact, shift our experience and, if need be, change direction. And in the end, what’s more empowering than that?