We are lucky, we live on a planet which teaches us the cyclical nature of energy through its seasons- of positive and negative, of death and rebirth, sun and moon, summer and winter. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the darkness of winter has arrived- with all of its glory and lessons, as it continuously does each year.
The Winter Solstice, December 21, marks the longest night of the year, as the sun sits lowest in the sky. These celestial moments of the year, are potent times to pause and reflect on one’s life, one’s community, where we are, and where we are headed. It is a chance to embrace all that the light and darkness- the positive and negative- have to teach us.
Winter Solstice is a time to turn inward and tune into the cyclical rhythms of nature and our surroundings. We can do this through deeply restorative practices that invite us to be still and contemplative, like Yin or Restorative Yoga. The Winter Solstice happens towards the end of the year, in a time that is very chaotic, busy, and becomes prey to unhealthy habits such as excessive shopping, eating, drinking and more. We can invite a Winter Solstice practice into our lives as a way to slow down, and contemplate what we want to bring in to the new year. We can build a fire in our homes and in our hearts, a place to sit by the light and understand our shadows better.
For me, this winter season began with the sudden passing of my beloved grandmother, what a metaphor for me- this death- of the queen matriarch of my family. My heart hit the earth with all the heaviness and tears that such a passing of death brings. But this grief has also shown me such profound light in these dark days.
Whenever a loved one passes, I immediately begin to burn candles for them- as if somehow my love and connection to their soul- through this flame- can help guide them home, or to heaven, or wherever they go in the afterlife. I of course, have no idea if this actually works. If my grandmother’s spirit could sense the light I had lit for her or not. However, I think the key point here rests somewhere higher within my consciousness, that when the profound grief that death shares with me arrives- which it inevitably does- all I can do is turn close to the light and stay there for a while. In doing this, I turn close to the love, and warmth, of the light I felt so closely, before death came to greet us.
This greeting the darkness, greeting death by turning close to fire, to light, to the candle of life, it holds such profound power, grace and humility. Realizing the fragility of life, and the power of love connected to life. I strongly believe, it’s this powerful love between my grandmother and I, that is keeping my spirit strong, and holding us both in the light as we process our goodbye. I believe this too is the wisdom of Winter Solstice gatherings, in all their beautiful forms.
We often may feel this changing of the seasons in our body, mind and soul- weeks upon its arrival. We begin to curl in, our body craves warmth, our mind craves rest, and our soul settles into the darker corners of our consciousness. This can feel overwhelming if we do not invite the darkness in, like a welcomed house guest. If we try to shut it out, pretend it is still summer, we might be able to live with that illusion for a while. But death, like birth, is inevitable, and cyclical, it finds its way back to us eventually, just as the seasons do.
This Winter Solstice I will be holding close to the light, through the practices of Restorative and Yin yoga. I invite you to join me in a deeply meditative on contemplative practice where we embrace all the lessons the darkest nights have to teach us and unveil our own inner lights that serve to keep us warm and whole.
I invite you to join me at OmBase Yoga for a candle light Yin Yoga class Wednesday 12/19 at 7:30pm ~or~ a Restorative Yoga practice Friday 12/21 at 12:30 pm for two very special Winter Solstice practices. We will set intentions together by the fire place at OmBase and move together through the darkness, and all it has to offer us.