Winter Solstice: Remembering Who and Where We Are
At this time of year, Winter Solstice for those of us in the northern hemisphere, I’m awed by a sense of beauty, interconnectedness to nature, and constancy. We’ve embraced a time of hibernation as darkness has increased during the past few months. Now that the turning point has passed, we welcome and celebrate the return of the light. We are reminded that no matter what chaos surrounds us, the seasons and cycles of nature are immutable.
Each year I like to take pause during this particularly reflective time of year. It took me a long time to realize that no matter what I’m doing, including contemplative work, I need variety. It makes sense. Different modalities actuate different cognitive and neural perspectives and trigger unique memories. A solo walk in nature is the most deeply spiritual for me but that’s not possible every day. Just getting outside walking is always beneficial. (Read: Finding the Wilderness Wherever You Are) So is a regular sitting meditation practice, working with tarot cards, and reading. The options are endless but most important is to find the one that works for you.
This is a creative time of year as the seeds we plant now will bear fruit in the spring. I begin my walks in the forest with a gift of tobacco, a question, and a prayer to be open to the answer in whatever format it might take, knowing that the answer may or may not come that day. Then I release my prayer and keep an eye on the path so I don’t trip!
Questions to contemplate now and in the months ahead:
- What seeds do you want to plant and how will you nurture those seeds and keep your soil rich?
- What is your unique gift that you are bringing into the world at this time? Don’t be surprised when something surfaces that you did not expect. For example, I did not expect to be preparing for Graduate Studies this year!
- What facets of your life have become activated this year and how can you use them in highest service, for the greatest good of all?
- What particular image or word comes to you during your meditations? Don’t take the first one, rather wait until there is one that resonates with you that you would like to embody for the year. It may reflect those facets that you would like to embody or conversely, something that you would like to release.
- What aspect of your life has served you but is no longer necessary? Release that with gratitude and free that energy for more creative work.
Some additional suggestions as you walk the path of the next year:
- Keep track of your dreams. Keep a dream journal next to your bed and write them down as they occur. As you explore them and look for recurrent themes, remember that dreams are symbolic, not literal.
- Keep a daily journal as well, recording your thoughts, feelings, and whatever you’d like to write!
- Ask yourself every day: “Is what I’m choosing (to think, do or say) moving me closer to my Creator or farther away?” Richard Wagamese, Embers, p. 132. Listen and act on the answer. Be thankful for the freedom of choice.
- Make time for the people, activities, and places that make your heart sing. Use your energy wisely, in service, for the greatest good of all.
Make an effort to stay grounded. Literally. Know where north is. Take note of the other beings surrounding you—human, plant, animal, water, earth, and sky—all life—with whom we share this universe. Keep an eye on the sky. Watch the stars. Know the phase of the moon. Know what planets are in the sky. (I use an app called Night Sky which is amazing!) When things get particularly frenzied, step outside, look up, take a deep breath and open your heart. Don’t let the energy around you distract you from being who you are.
At this Winter Solstice, I wish you an abundant new year of peace, joy, love, and good health!