As we move toward the Winter Solstice, the natural cycle of the season and the diminished daylight is an invitation to turn inward toward rest, stillness and silence. The word “solstice” is Latin for the “sun stands still.” Thus, the Winter Solstice is an invitation to move into the spirit of stillness.
Paradoxically, in December our cultural institutions beckon us outward into perhaps the busiest, most hectic time of the year, the “holiday season” with amped up shopping, socializing and celebrating. Being consciously aware of these two energies can help us remain in balance and experience well-being and ease.
Yoga and meditation are the perfect practices for turning inward and nourishing our natural rhythms at this time of the year. The breath itself is our great teacher.
“The Earth breathes but one breath each year: from Summer to Winter, a long exhalation, a letting go; at the Winter Solstice, a moment of stillness and emptiness between breaths; then the long inhalation back into the Summer fullness."
The pause in the breath cycle serves as an invitation to drop into the silent, vast, infinite realm that is always there, lying just beneath the surface hubbub of our busy thinking, feeling mind-body.
In any quiet moment when your are breathing,
The breath may flow out and pause of itself,
Or flow in and pause of itself.
Here experience opens into exquisite vastness
With no beginning and no end.
Embrace this infinity without reservation.
Dive into it, drink deeply and emerge renewed.
-Lorin Roche, The Radiance Sutras, Sutra 4
In the midst of this month’s festivities and fun, may you also cultivate the quiet spaces to pause and go inward and deeply nourish your body and soul.
Annie Barrett. Educator, certified health coach, educator and yoga instructor.