Another year has flown by.
Another list of resolutions has been halfway accomplished.
Even when I don’t want to do it, by December 31, I inevitably (and sometimes, begrudgingly) find myself succumbing to the societal pressure that influences me to write another new year’s resolutions list.
While I do manage to check off a handful of promises (take a painting class, move to Mexico, immerse myself more often in nature), I leave many more unfinished (eat less refined sugar, organize my finances, finish Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”). Being a human who is naturally hard-wired to focus on the negative, all of those unticked boxes have an uncanny tendency to outweigh that which I’ve accomplished, regardless of how grandiose those triumphs may be.
So this year, I’m taking a different approach. Instead of writing a lengthy list of nearly-impossible-to-achieve-in-a-year tasks, I am going to focus on “cleaning house.” And I don’t mean my literal house, though that is certainly an important aspect of the cleansing process. I am referring to the holistic system as a whole: mind, body and soul.
In Mexico, there is a traditional practice known as curanderismo. This refers to a healing method that blends religious beliefs, faith and prayer with the use of herbs, massage and other traditional procedures. Curanderismo in Mexico is thought to be influenced by Aztec, Mayan, Spanish, African and Catholic elements.
Using it as the groundwork, I’ve compiled a list of five Mexican-inspired rituals that may help to usher in a clean, bright and prosperous 2023!
1. Bury your problems
What you’ll need: a red ribbon about 1.5 ft or half a meter in length and a small empty jar.
What you’ll do: Think of seven problems you’d like to release from your life. Starting in the middle of the ribbon, tie a knot for your first problem. Move a few inches to the right and tie a knot for your second problem. Now move to the left for your third. Alternate directions, tying a knot for each problem, until you’ve made a complete circle. Put the ribbon in an empty jar and bury it.
What’s the result: a lightened mental load and no more problems!
2. Clear out deep emotional trauma
What you’ll need: a raw egg and a bundle of rosemary, rue, basil and/or sage.
What you’ll do: In an ancient practice known to eliminate susto — a concept that can be loosely translated as post-traumatic stress disorder — rub an egg in its shell around your body to extract negative energy from your aura. Using the bundle of herbs, sweep all the way around the body three times, from head to toe. This can be done three times a week for a month.
What’s the result: good health and a positive mental attitude.
3. Optimize your house for wealth
What you’ll need: cinnamon, 12 coins, an aloe vera plant
What you’ll do: Start with a deep cleaning. Add cinnamon to the water used to clean the floors, and burn some cinnamon sticks for protection against bad omens. For an added security boost, place an aloe vera plant at the entrance to your home.
Ancient Mexican culture believed this could block evil energies from entering. On New Year’s Eve, just before midnight, sweep one final time in the direction of your front door. As the clock strikes midnight, place 12 coins outside the threshold and sweep them into your house for good fortune.
What’s the result: security and wealth.
4. Get Rid of Old Habits
What you’ll need: buñuelos and plates. (Do not whip out your best china for this one. I recommend buying cheap plates that you’ll have no qualms about shattering into hundreds of pieces.)
What you’ll do: Are you already stuffing your face with sweet, fried buñuelos this holiday season? If so, you’re one step ahead as the sugary treats are already a good luck charm when eaten during the fiestas in Mexico. But you can take it a step further.
What’s the result: releasing old patterns that no longer serve you.
This video demonstrates the old Oaxaca tradition of eating a buñuelo and then smashing your plate afterward.
It’s a common tradition on New Year’s Eve, especially in Oaxaca, to smash the plate used to eat your buñuelos in order to finally break those recurring bad habits that you’re ready to leave behind.
5. Declutter your body, mind and spirit
What you’ll need: a bathing suit, a temazcal hut and a shaman
What you’ll do: The beauty of a temazcal is that there’s not much to do other than follow the lead of your shaman. This ancient healing practice takes place in a sweat lodge, where you will remove mental, physical and emotional impurities. Your guide will use a combination of herbs, chanting and breath work to purge nagging blockages, resulting in a sensation of rebirth and renewal.
What’s the result: a powerful detoxification with many physical health benefits including lowered blood pressure, clearer skin, a stronger respiratory system.
Want to know more? Check out a recent article about my first temazcal experience: my first temazcal made me feel like I’d been reborn.
Or, you can take a long, hot bath.
Happy New Year!
Bethany Platanella is a travel and lifestyle writer based in Mexico City. With her company, Active Escapes International, she plans and leads private and small-group active retreats. She loves Mexico’s local markets, Mexican slang, practicing yoga and fresh tortillas. Sign up for her (almost) weekly love letters or follow her Instagram account, @a.e.i.wellness.