This year, when so many people have faced such dark and anxious circumstances, it is more important than ever to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the return of the light. The Winter Solstice, on December 21st in the Northern Hemisphere, marks the shortest day of the year. We have arrived at the point in the year when the darkness has expanded to its fullness and must now bow down to the sun. It is a time of hope and a time to dream the life you wish for into being.
The sun, reborn at the Winter Solstice, is like a new moon: the first few days of the moon’s waxing cycle the new moon is not yet visible in the sky; in the same way, at the winter solstice, it is not immediately evident that the light has returned. Winter stretches out before us, the sun is low in the sky and casts long shadows, and summer still seems a far-off dream. However, although it is not apparent to us yet, the earth’s energy has shifted from darkness to light, moon to sun, yin to yang, water to fire, inner to outer, and from contemplation to action.
Below are some Winter Solstice meditation questions (from chapter eight of the Yoga Through the Year book) to help you to prepare for the dawning of the light at the solstice:
More than ever we all need hope to dispel the darkness and gloom that has been so prevalent during this pandemic year. We are reminded at the Winter Solstice that the light will return, spring will come, green shoots will appear, and life will blossom again. So, over the coming weeks create a space in your life, a cradle, ready for the Sun to be reborn at the Winter Solstice. What is being reborn in you at this time?
How to Use the Seasonal Meditation Questions
Finding Wisdom in the Darkness
Here in the Northern Hemisphere we are only a few weeks away from the Winter Solstice, on December 21st. Following the solstice the days will gradually begin to lengthen. However, we still have a few more dark, cold months of winter ahead. If you are looking for a way to bring warmth, light, and hope into the dark days of winter, then a good way to do this is to begin to work with the Winter Solstice meditation questions (chapter eight in The Yoga Through the Year book). Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing some of the meditation questions from the book with you, and making suggestions about how best to work with them.
The darker half of the year, between the Summer and Winter Solstice, is not a good time for action, but it is a wonderful time to be incubating ideas, ready to send up green shoots when the sun returns and a new cycle of light begins, at the Winter Solstice. The meditation questions below reflect the contemplative nature of this time:
When you look back over the year, it is worth acknowledging that for everyone 2020 has been quite a year! During these turbulent, unprecedented times it is especially important to give yourself kindness and compassion. So, when you are considering what you have been incubating during the darker half of the year, do it with kindness and understanding, acknowledging your feelings about any losses or disappointments, and celebrating your successes, however small.
What have you learnt and what wisdom will you be taking into the new solar cycle? The restrictions imposed by the virus have taught many of us about patience, resilience, adaptability, and creativity as we experiment with new ways of doing things. If you are not sure about what you've learnt during this time, then take a few quiet minutes and trust your inner wisdom to come up with some answers.
What will your spiritual focus be for the year ahead? Your spiritual focus for the coming year can be quite simple, such as remembering to tune into the natural flow of your breath; or remembering to mindfully savour the small joys of life; or to be kind to yourself and others. Whatever you choose, it can serve as a simple way of continually steering you in the direction of whatever is spiritually meaningful for you.
I will be posting more guidance on using the Winter Solstice Meditation Questions over the next few weeks leading up to the solstice.
See: How to Use the Seasonal Meditation Questions
If you are reading this in the Southern Hemisphere then see:
Summer Solstice page and Celtic Connections Summer Solstice page
Jilly Shipway, sharing seasonal yoga ideas and inspiration with you through the year...
Please feel free to share ideas and resources that you find in my blog, but please do acknowledge me and my website as their source. Thanks!
Disclaimer: if you have any concerns about your health or suitability to do yoga, please consult a medical professional before attempting any of the yoga routines in this blog.