Focus your intentions for the New Year with self care and shake the house rituals from Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Philips

Prepare for the coming year with a simple ritual to help you focus your mind on what you want – and what you want to let go. Plus give your home a spring clean with a 'shake the house' ritual.

Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Philips

Don’t be put off by the word ‘ritual’, it’s just a means of focusing your mind and intentions.

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Sisters Katia Narain Phillips and Nadia Narain, authors of Rituals for Every Day, have put together a ritual to help you focus on what you’d like to welcome and let go of in 2019 – and one for refreshing your home ready for spring.

What is a ritual anyway?

A ritual can be whatever you want it to be, but we believe that all rituals involve three stages:

  • PAUSE to acknowledge where you are, how you feel, and what is going on in this moment.
  • PAY ATTENTION to your emotions, to your breathing, to any sensations in your body.
  • SET YOUR INTENTION – are you looking for peace? Energy? Acceptance? Change? Be clear in your intention.

It really can be as simple as that – with no candles, or incense, or sitting cross-legged on a meditation cushion. But the effect of even such a simple ritual can be profound.

It’s important to make a distinction between a habit, which is an action that we perform automatically, without thinking of it, and a ritual, which we perform with attention and intention.

A ritual should not be rushed, but it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time either. We believe a ritual should give you a deeper sense of wellbeing, and of connection to the world around you. Think of it as helping to bring a little magic into the mundane.

We also love the idea of rituals that can be passed down through generations, or given as gifts to help bring a little stillness to someone else’s life.

Try a New Year ritual

Take a quiet moment to reflect on three things you’d like to let go of from the old year. Write these down, and try to be specific and clear.

You could try ‘I’m ready to let go of not accepting myself as I am.’ Then reflect on three things you’d like to welcome in the New Year.

Make these intentions positive, instead of punishing, for example: ‘I am kind to myself and others’.”

Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Philips
Issy Croker

Cleanse your home with a ‘shake the house’ ritual

One of our favourite rituals at this time of year is a good old spring clean. In Persian tradition, spring is the time for the khaneh-tekani, which literally means ‘shaking the house’.

It is said to stem from the Zoroastrian belief that cleanliness keeps evil away from the kingdom of Good, and to welcomes the spirit of one’s ancestors into the family home.

During the khaneh-tekani, the whole household joins in to scrub and clean every corner of the home. Rugs and curtains are washed, broken furniture is repaired or thrown out, and the space is cleared of all debris from the past. The house is then filled with fragrant flowers, such as hyacinths, to refresh the air with the scent of spring.

What steps can you take to shake up your own house to rid it of the stagnant air of winter and welcome in the new season? Remind yourself why you’re shaking the house, so your ritual has a sense of purpose instead of feeling like another housekeeping chore.

You can follow each of these steps in one day, or just use a few of the suggestions at a time. If you live with other people, bring in everyone to do their share, don’t turn this into a massive to-do list just for you:

  • Shake your curtains and rugs outdoors – just hang them out of a window if you don’t have any outside space. If you can hang them on a washing line and hit them with a stick or an umbrella to get rid of dust, all the better (or get the kids to do it, they love this).
  • Air duvets, cushions and pillows outside in the sunshine.
  • If your furniture or crockery is broken or chipped, either repair it or give it away. Ensure the objects you have around you are in good working order, and don’t let your energy be depleted by constantly seeing things that needs to be fixed.
  • Some Iranians burn the herb wild rue to cleanse and fragrance their homes after the spring clean. This can be hard to find, so we like to use either sage or palo santo instead.
  • Wash your floors with a few drops of a fresh and energising citrus essential oil added to the water. We love bergamot, wild orange or grapefruit.
  • Get rid of clutter and only keep the things you really love. When we open up space in one part of our lives, we invite a sense of spaciousness everywhere.
  • Open all the windows and let the fresh air in.
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Extracted from Rituals for Every Day by Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips (Hutchinson, hardback, £14.99). Photography by Issy Croker.