Blessed Winter Solstice and Yule to YOU & yours. Whatever you celebrate and whatever religion or spiritual practice you choose, I feel blessed and grateful to know you. Each time I step into the studio to teach a class, I know I am where I belong and as I look out at your faces, I feel totally supported and loved. Thank you!
We are at the threshold of the deepest, darkest night of the whole year. The Solstice reminds me of cycles. And, these sacred turning points on the wheel of the year (solstices & equinoxes) remind me of the powerful rhythm of the Universe and the beauty in the repetitive, recursive cycles that can ground us and bring us home. Winter Solstice in particular is a magical time for ritual, reflection and renewal and can be a potent time for feeding the spirit and nurturing the soul's soil. If we can remember it to be so.
There is a paradox here. While all of nature is preparing to rest and recharge with trees drawing energy into their roots or animals burrowing into their dens, we are wildly gearing up in our fast-paced culture to over-do! We might find ourselves over-planning, over-scheduling, over-consuming, over-spending and over-eating! This goes in direct contradiction to what is happening in nature in the Northern Hemisphere in winter. How can we find balance and peace in the midst of it all?
I taught a class last week on the powerful goddess Akhilandesvari, a spinning, twirling goddess who rides a crocodile fearlessly into the river. Her nickname is, 'Never Not Broken', but that story is for another time. My colleague Eric Stoneberg has some wicked awesome things to say about this goddess- check it out here. See, this goddess is all about cycles and investing in them. She teaches us to get off the vertical ladder of consumption and striving to embrace the reality of life which moves in circles and spirals. Akhilandesvari literally spins and spins in the currents of the river. She reminds us that life is comprised of the things we do over and over again, each day. Things that might seem mundane but that we can invest with our deepest love, attention and presence: Washing the dishes, brushing our teeth, putting on the water to boil or making a meal for our children. These things aren't to 'get done and over with' so that we can 'get on' with the rest of life. They are to be valued and cherished as the real 'stuff' of daily life. Douglas Brooks, one of my Tantric philosophy teachers playfully calls life a process of 'lather, rinse, repeat.' Yup, I think that just about says it all!
So we can ask ourselves at this holiday time (which for some of us ironically, might not feel like a holiday at all!) what do we value? Are there any simple rituals or traditions that we do each year that really feed the spirit and nourish the soul? Can we consciously create a simpler, more harmonious, intuitive and peaceful holiday season or are we going to get caught up in the 'over-the-top-ness' that can leave us feeling depleted, guilty, drained and empty. Put simply, can we invest in what matters most: This spinning, wobbling Mother Earth that we love, our families and communities and our whole world family that so desperately needs our attention.
This holiday season, I encourage you to pare down, release some expectations, rebel a little against consumer culture and keep it SIMPLE & cyclical. Winter Solstice is a time to nourish our bodies, souls and dreams. It's a time to rest and renew. The Earth is quietly waiting for us to align with her. I'll leave you with a line from my all-time favorite Christmas Carol by John Denver. It reminds me to stop and take in the beauty and magic of the season with a present heart and a sense of wonder:
'See the sunlight through the pine, taste the warm of winter wine, dream of softly falling snow, Winter snow, Aspenglow.'
And, here are a few of my favorite winter poems that capture the spirit of the season:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
I Want to Sit in Restful Darkness
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:
I want to sit in the restful darkness
with the people of my heart tribe,
holding each other in silence
letting it all catch up with us:
the grief that breaks us open,
the ecstasy of the One Full Breath
taken together, fully awake.
I want to be with it all, together,
to hold tenderly the fear
that what we do does not matter,
to share the deep knowing
and strengthen the faith
that how we live
makes all the difference
In the world.
Happy Holidays & Blessed New Year Dear Ones!
As always, I'd love to hear from you- Click on Comments to share your thoughts and holiday rituals and don't forget to join me for any of these holiday classes or retreats that are coming right up:
Sunday Dec. 20th:
Special Winter Solstice Restorative Retreat- 1-3 pm.
Relax into bliss with special oils for the season, candles, an extra gentle restorative practice and calming music for a winter's eve.
Thursday Dec. 24th:
Calm Christmas Eve Yoga Flow- 9-10:15 am.
Join me for a peaceful morning yoga flow to cultivate inner calm & tranquility.
Thursday Dec. 31:
New Year's Eve Yoga Flow- 9-10:15 am.
We'll release the old year and begin contemplating our intentions for 2016 on the last day of 2015! Come flow and let go while inviting in new energy.
Friday Jan. 1:
Special New Year's Day Practice: Sankalpa- The Power of Intention.
10-12 pm (space is limited so reserve ahead & bring a journal and pen)
See full description and register here
Saturday and Sunday January 2 & 3:
Spiral Down to the Center annual new year's retreat in Vermont.
* All classes are at Yoga Mountain, except the Spiral Down Retreat which is in Greensboro, Vermont.