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.

20 Jun

Sun and Moon

As I focus my professional work more fully on life transitions, I find myself being more intentional about the natural and regularly occurring transitions in our world. There is a rhythm to our days, weeks, months, and seasons, and I find that if I take just a little time to acknowledge these changes, I feel more settled – more “in the flow”, if you will.

Sun & Moon Suncatcher by CreativeSpiritGlass

Sun & Moon Suncatcher by CreativeSpiritGlass

Today we have a double hitter of transitions – for the first time since 1948, the summer solstice and full moon fall on the same day. While both of these events have a quality of bright light and illumination, their energies are somewhat opposing. The full moon is typically associated with release. For many women, the menstrual cycle is tied to this moon phase – a literal experience of letting go. This is a time of honoring what has come before, and leaving behind what no longer serves us. Some words associated with release that might resonate for you at this time are liberation, relinquish, surrender, forgiveness, freedom. As you examine your life in this moment, today, is there something you can consciously loosen your grip on? Something that you need to set free or leave behind?

The summer solstice, like the sun itself, is all about expansion and extroversion – shining bright. This solstice ushers in the summer season, the time when everything is growing and flowering. Summer is also associated with the inner child – playful, spontaneous, and full of wonder. How can you engage with this energy? Is there a creative project you’ve been working on that’s ready to be launched into the world? What is coming into fruition for you? Can you bring a sense of play or beginner’s mind to your experience this season?

Whether or not you buy into the woo-woo of sun and moon energy, these events present us with quarterly and monthly opportunities to reexamine the way we are engaging with the world. Is there any *magic* to the first-of-the-month checks of the smoke alarms or changing of the furnace filters? No. But that regular date is a helpful reminder to check in on things that need doing. I find that, especially in a geographical location where changes between seasons are subtle, actively engaging with the sun and moon phases reminds me that I am part of the natural world, and gives me a chance to reset for the coming weeks or months.

Celebration of these shifts can be big or small – don’t let perfection of form keep you from the importance of function! Five minutes of meditation can go a long way, if that’s all you have. If there’s more time, this can also be a great opportunity for a community gathering. Yoga studios, meditation centers, and breathwork circles often have special events for the solstice – one more way for us to come together. Search your local scene for these communal celebrations.

Interested in learning more? Here are some of the resources I turn to for inspiration around these natural transitions: