The last thing you need right now in the middle of a busy and expedited holiday season is yet another thing to do in order to make the Winter Solstice a meaningful and memorable day. There are dozens of things to complete at the office before you can sign off for the holidays and dozens more to do to craft the magic you wish to share with family and friends as they festivities commence. And given that this is the shortest day of the year, and you have yet to plan anything special, it is stressful to even consider how to add something more.
And yet this is exactly why it is critical to pause and consider the day. The world lives within us, not outside of us and if we continue to play out an experience of rush and stress, then that is all that is permitted to perpetuate. As John O’Donohue says in his breathtakingly beautiful book Anam Cara, “Each day, our tribe of language holds what we call the world together. Yet the uttering of the word reveals how each of us relentlessly creates. Everyone is an artist. Each person brings sound out of the silence and coaxes the invisible to be visible.”
So today, in the midst of your bustle, and despite the to-do list before you, pause and experience life differently, consciously. With intention and the power of our attention we can instantly disrupt an energy, conversation, pattern that is no longer serving us and in the very disruption, we enter a liminal space, a threshold of choosing the past or choosing the future and thus a different relationship to our sense of time. As Donahue would say. “Time is the force that brings every news experience to the door of your heart. All that happens to you is controlled and determined by time.” As you slow down, you gaze on the world differently and you witness the agency you have in the very present moment. “Time opens up and opens out the mystery of the soul,” says Donahue. Here are three simple and readily accessible practices that you can easily experience today to celebrate the Winter Solstice and in doing so, celebrate the very life and breath in you and its ability to shine differently and more brightly in the world.
Bathe in the Light
For thousands of years before us, and continuing around the world still today, the winter solstice is celebrated with a bonfire, or a candle consciously lit, or a tree decorated with candles to honor the blaze of the sun. One of the wonderful rules of the winter solstice was that you should not do excessive work! Bring this ritual into your world today, Light a candle and sit with it for a moment before you shower or if you have time for a soak and simply bathe in the light and the space of time that you carved out and created for yourself. To further elevate your senses and bring you deeper into the presence of the moment, use rosemary, bay leaves and pine needles for a rich scent of winter that invigorates and invites clarity. While in the shower, experiment with a healing sound experience or try out different breath patterns and finish with a rinse of cold water, Wim Hof style to wake up your body and feel fully alive and ready for the day.
Practice Eye Contact
As you move throughout your day, you will undoubtably have opportunity to meet others. The exchanges we have with others can often steal our energy, disrupt our energy or send us spinning off in ways we don’t anticipate. This is particularly true when everyone else about you is equally stressed out and strategically focused on getting their to-do list done no matter what or when others you meet are in real pain from the stress of life exacerbated by the holiday pressures and often trigger unhappy memories and thus intense feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. In a season where it is intended to connect, we are fiercely disconnected and protective of our truest feelings. And yet, we can choose otherwise. Today, as you are out and about with your errands, design a different experience and practice the art of deliberate connection. Instead of looking past someone, the cashier or fellow shoppers or even your neighbor, look up and make eye contact and hold it with a smile and offer a silent blessing and a share a verbal holiday greeting. It doesn’t even take more than that—however here is where the opening lies—as they respond in kind, you have the chance to engage further or not. Let today be the day when you say something more or ask a question or whatever the moment offers you, take it as if a gift and see where it goes. In doing so you will feel the positive power of a human interaction and kindness in play. You will feel lighter, happier and you will gift the same to those you met who hopefully will also play it forward.
Take a Sacred Sleep
This may seem counterproductive as a thing to do on an auspicious day, but in fact it is one of the most profound acts of self-care that you can gift yourself. Sleep is a magic reset button and too many of us have a dysfunctional relationship with our sleeping hygiene. Most of us have yet to internalize the understanding of the critical role sleep plays in every area of our life, health and happiness. Poor sleep can damage your health, career, and sabotage relationships. Most people simply lack a personalized routine that can support and foster a deep and beautiful restorative sleep. Let today be the beginning of something new and wonderful. So as soon as you get home and before you begin to do the next, next, instead give your body a chance to rest and maybe nap! Grab a cozy blanket, a cup of sleep friendly tea and sit on the couch or your bed and just be still and breathe. If that is a struggle, add a soothing meditation designed to help you down regulate. A few great apps to consider are 10 percent happier or Calm or Brain Sync’s Power Nap. 20 minutes is all you need to feel refresh. And while you are at it, rethink your bedtime routine and make it magical and something you look forward to every night. This will change your life.
Credits: Getty Images Mapodile,Tinpixels, Pekic, Larisa Duka