15 Dec

A Simple Winter Practice

Misty Morning by Markus Trienke

I have written and reflected on the winter solstice and end-of-year rituals before, but this is the first time in many years that I have felt the true weight of this longest night. Outside my window, the snow is piled high, my back and hands sore from so many driveway shovelings already this season. At 4:30 in the afternoon, it’s time to close the blinds and turn on the Christmas lights, and there are gifts of handmade scarves and rice pouches that go in the microwave to keep me warm as I sit at the computer. Today, there were a few hours of glorious sunshine, the whole landscape glittering – but for the most part, it is cold and dark.

I’m grateful for these tangible reminders of the changing seasons – I have missed this. Some of us have an easier time of tuning in with the passage of time and the subtle shifts in the natural world; perhaps because I am, after all, a Midwestern girl, I need these louder announcements from the weather to truly feel connected.

While this time of year is often characterized by the high energy and festive pace of the holidays, it can be helpful to recognize the disconnect with the slow and quiet rhythm of the season. If you’re feeling out of sync, it may be more than just the eggnog. Though the chill has been in the air for many weeks now, winter is just beginning. This season of cold and darkness is made for rest, reflection, solitude. Can you allow that for yourself?

I have a script I follow for my end-of-year reflection, but even that feels daunting this December. I’m looking at simplifying. The moon was full on Tuesday night, and one of my favorite sources for lunar wisdom had this to say (among other things), something that spoke to me as a complete practice:

“… If we value peace, how do we embody that peace in our daily lives? Or if we value truth, or harmony, or any other higher-vibrational ideal – how do we become that quality as we decide how to proceed from here?…”

Perhaps this is all I need this year. Maybe I will scale back the writing practice, sleep in, do some meditating… contemplate the values that I seek to embody in 2017. Maybe that will be the simple meditation that works for you, as well.

22 Dec

A Very Long Night

From summer solstice to winter solstice…

I don’t know about you, but the past season (or two) has felt so very busy, and the months have passed by in a single breath. I woke up the other day, knowing it was time to collect my thoughts and write something about this time of year. It was a combination of exhaustion, and anxiety, and just general grouchiness over not being able to get it all done (whatever that means) – I knew I couldn’t be the only one feeling frustrated.

And then I decided I would rather just roll over and take a nap.

There was a thunderstorm

Sound familiar?

Let’s put this in perspective. The winter solstice is a time of darkness – the longest night of the year, in fact. In contrast to the summer’s sun energy – bright, warm, full of youth and vitality and outward projection – the winter season puts us in touch with the moon’s feminine essence. Winter is dark and introspective, a time for stillness and inner looking.

It is also a time to nurture, to take care of ourselves in the cold, hard climate, as we prepare ourselves for the coming spring (I write from my kitchen in Northern California – I’m happy to acknowledge some winters are colder and harder than others). This can be hard to remember during the holiday season of our modern culture, though. While many of us value caring for our loved ones and tending our traditions especially this time of year, it’s easy to let the hustle-bustle of shopping and cooking and cleaning and traveling and partying and, and, and… get the better of us, and keep us from the nurturing we so need.

I’m writing this post later than I had intended. I wanted to get these words out a few days ahead of the solstice, on a weekday when more readers might be interested. Putting it off for a while in favor of napping and snuggling with my dog was part of my self care, and I’m reminding myself that it’s not the exact moment of solstice that’s really important.

And that’s part of my message to you. During this dark and still season, if you find yourself feeling worn out or sad or angry, take a moment to listen to what your body and your inner guidance are telling you. Allow yourself to feel what comes up, and recognize that we’re all turning through another cycle. Winter is hard. Brighter days are coming.

 

Looking for a meditation to carry you through this dark season? Try this mantra for sacred healing (several versions of this mantra are available on iTunes or Spirit Voyage; I’m a fan of the one by Snatam Kaur).