Winter solstice marks the peak of yin energy, which is an inward, reflective, quiet, dark, womb-like energy. It is the perfect time to explore or deepen a meditative practice.
Like many, I came to the practice of meditation at a difficult time in my life, when I knew my mind needed calming and spaciousness. My journey with meditation over the years has been profound and has proven to be life-shaping. And yet, I believe the power of meditation lies in its simplicity. I hear many people say ‘I can’t meditate’ as if it’s something they should be doing but know they do not have the capacity to do so. Underlying this avoidance of meditation is often fear – fear of what one’s mind will do when it’s not occupied, fear of boredom, fear of missing out on something while sitting in stillness. We live in a world where busyness is the norm and equated with success. And yet, I have heard from so many the relief they find when intentionally ‘unplugging’ or being in a place where their cell phone is out of range.
When we take a moment to quiet our mind and body, we may find ourselves agitated, restless and even irritated. This is expected as we are so accustomed to endless entertainment. If we allow ourselves to sit with the agitation, and even develop some curiosity towards it, we may find that it naturally settles. When we begin to tune into the quiet vastness of our underlying mind, many different experiences may arise. Some may feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar, others pleasant and euphoric. Emotions and memories may surface, and some may even come as a surprise to us. In meditation, we just allow whatever thoughts and emotions come to move through us, without habitually pushing them away or clinging to them. And when we inevitably do just that, we notice, and return to a sense of presence. Only in the present are we able to show up fully and honestly, to both ourselves and others.
Winter is a time when we naturally slow down and move internally, which makes it a great time to start or deepen a meditation practice. Like many of us have over the course of the pandemic, we can now spend time examining what matters most, what ways in which we are ready to transform and seed new ideas. This is challenging but rewarding work. In this time of profound outer change, we can take the time now to align ourselves and discover the ways in which our internal shift mirrors the external world.
May we let go into the mystery of the darkness and have faith that the light will return!
by David Whyte
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.