My intention is to blog once a season about Life Practices in order to share what I am practicing in my life, and to suggest opportunities to join me, as well as ideas to use in your own practice.
Winter Solstice occurs this year on December 21st at 5:12 am CT, the earliest arrival of Winter since 1896 according to The Farmer’s Almanac! This is the first day of Winter—the shortest day and longest night of the year. Every day thereafter, the days grow longer until Summer Solstice, when we have the longest day and the shortest night. The ancient Mayan calendar marks Winter Solstice 2012 as the end of the 13th 144,000-day cycle, completing a full 5,200-year Mayan cycle of creation. While many fear that something may threaten our world at the end of this creation cycle, astronomers are not concerned.
Whether we face actual physical challenges or more internal ones, Wintertime is the time to pay attention to how we are doing on the inside. It is the time to crawl into the cave of ourselves and give extra attention to our physical and psycho-spiritual wellbeing. Just like the mama bear who hibernates, we need to prepare our cave so that we have the support we need to go into the mysterious dreamtime of connecting deeply with ourselves. We prepare by making space for all of ourselves—all thoughts, feelings, or physical suffering—we accept and allow whatever arises, meeting it with loving kindness.
Winter is the season to learn to yield, to surrender to your own truth, however painful, to listen carefully, and to take time to integrate your experience. It’s a slower time, a resting time, a staying-with time. Yielding to your own process means slowing down enough to make contact with what you are experiencing, what is moving you on the inside. Is there a practice you can commit to that will support you in this endeavor? It could be as simple as a few minutes of meditation, taking breathing breaks, sharing your heart with a close friend, or writing in your journal…How will you support your inward journey this Winter so that you may emerge renewed and refreshed in the Spring?
Here’s a starting place for a journal exploration, or a short ritual alone or with friends:
• Begin in the dark, saying this chant 3-5 times: deep is the darkness, with no light at all, before and behind, and to either side*. Feel the rhythm of the chant drawing you inside, into the still, silent darkness. See if you can yield into the chant and the darkness. What does that feel like?
• When you are ready, light a single candle. Breathe that light in, noticing everything you can about how it affects you and the space around you.
• Name out loud or in your journal how you will support yourself in this time of inward turning.
• Name out loud or in your journal anything you want to explore in yourself more deeply during the enfolding darkness.
• Acknowledge your gratefulness for this inward time of listening and being, and blow out the candle.
Please join us for the Winter Solstice Celebration on December 21st at 7:00 pm at Unity Church Unitarian in the Parish Hall. May you welcome and find grace in this changing of the seasons.
(* from Stephen Mitchell’s Gilgamesh)
Collage as a Practice. I haven’t been collaging in the last few months—it’s interesting how this practice comes and goes for me. I have an old wooden card table set up in my little room surrounded by shelves of magazines divided by type, ribbons, beads, jewelry, pens, wax pencils, glue, and other fun things to collage with. It’s welcoming and ready for me, but my energy has been going elsewhere. I know I’ll come back when it’s time as collaging is one of the practices that helps me remember who I am, to illuminate the threads I am following and weaving in my life.
This collage is one I completed in honor of my middle name change and 50th birthday—Changing Woman.
What practice help you to remember yourself? How do you weave the threads of your life together?
Advent Singing Meditation. As we transition from Fall to Winter and continue our inward turning, I invite you to gather one more Friday evening with me to deepen your Advent journey with sacred chant and silent prayer/meditation. Learn and sing music from Hildegard of Bingen and from the Gaelic tradition. No prior singing experience necessary. Suggested donation $5-$10 per session.
Friday, December 14th, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm, at Our Lady of the Presentation Chapel atrium, 1890 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul
More Information: Jennifer Tacheny, email@example.com (651) 696-2872, Hosted by the CSJ Membership and Association Offices (Celeste’s Dream, Consociate Services, and Sister Membership).
Is music a part of your life? Try singing alone, with others, or even with a recording and then dissolving into silence. What do you notice?
Summit Hill Laughter Club! Come explore the art of laughter to invite more joy, play, and wellbeing into your life! Because of the deep pranayamic breathing exercises, this form of practice is also called Laughter Yoga, but it does not include any physical asanas and can be practiced by people of all ages who are willing to be a little bit silly. It was started in 1995 by a family physician in India and is now widely practiced in over 65 countries around the world. Medical research supports its physical and emotional health-giving effects. Children who come with their parents are welcome.
I am a Certified Laughter Yoga leader, offering a club every 2 weeks this Fall at the Corner Studio of St. Paul Yoga Center at 1162 Selby Avenue. Please join us on Wednesday December 19th, and in the New Year, 1st and 3rd Wednesdays January through March from 7:30-8:30 pm. No registration required and no fixed cost, just by donation! Please contact me if you have any questions—I would love to laugh with you!
Reverending/Ceremony. I absolutely love performing ceremonies that bring more honoring of our intentions and love into the world! This above laughing picture was from a wedding I performed, and I facilitate the Winter Solstice Celebration mentioned above. Let me know if I can assist you in honoring any transitions or special moments in your life—Weddings, Baby Blessings, Seasonal and Transitional Rituals, Memorial Services… You can read more about my practice of ministry.
The Enneagram is one of the main maps of the soul I find helpful to understand the unfolding of my life. It is an amazing system that helps me to see the deeper, purer roots of my behavior—how most of my less savory behaviors are simply misguided attempts to reconnect with a more loving, whole, and good self.
Dave and I are facilitating a couple’s retreat using the Enneagram in early March at our favorite B&B, Journey Inn, in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. It’s called Cultivating Deeper Contact and is about just that! Even in a relationship grounded in love and open communication, we often yearn for deeper contact with each other. The Enneagram illuminates many of the structures that stand in the way of such contact, as well as others that actually invite us toward a deeper contact with ourselves, each other, and the moment. Early registration (by January 1st) is $550 per couple, and after that, $600. For more information, see our calendar. We hope you can join us!
Deep Winter Blessings, Katy
9 thoughts on “life practices: winter solstice”
katy, i just love your descriptions of how we can turn inward in the winter, lovely!
here, this essential thought: “Winter is the season to learn to yield, to surrender to your own truth, however painful, to listen carefully, and to take time to integrate your experience. It’s a slower time, a resting time, a staying-with time.” wowee! just what i needed to hear this evening. the power of words! thank you.
hurray! your words inspire me, too–glad it goes both ways, mary. may we turn in and listen in order to be more whole…
i want you to know that you inspired me to set up a meditation area and altar in my home. i find winters challenging to find a place that is a respite. so i am excited about it! i ordered a beautiful meditation chair, too, that i eagerly await!
woo-hoo, mary! i am so happy to hear this!! 🙂 would love to hear how your new meditation space supports you this winter!
Beautiful reflections and great suggestions for winter spiritual practices. You are busy person. Thank you for sharing your love and wisdom.
thanks, yanchy, and for all you offer, too! i love being involved with these life-affirming practices!
Hi Katy girl woman, For some reason I couldn’t get the comment square to make one.
I love your blog and am in awe of the fullness and richness of all you are doing and exploring. Once I finish writing my Christmas poem I’ll send you a regular card. In the meantime, I rejoice with you and Dave at all you are sharing and doing for yourselves and others. Lots of love and many, many blessings, Che
sure wish you lived nearby so you could come share this richness with me! very much looking forward to your Christmas poem. love and blessings, katy