Today is my favorite day of the year.
Because from now on, everything gets brighter.
For me, more than any other day of the year, Winter Solstice unveils the fact that everything – personal struggles, relationships, career, family, the economy, the weather, etc. goes through its ups and downs. Things rise, they blossom, they decay, they dissolve, and then they rise again in some new form. Today’s trip to the bottom of the barrel of daylight hours remind me that the cycling currents are always a factor and basically, I have two choices – to fight against them, or to let go and surf.
Sure, I have control over lots of things in my life and it’s important to remember that and feel empowered and take positive action. Undoubtedly, whatever I do, big or small, can make a positive impact on the lives of others, and even society in general. But there are also lots of things (cold weather, getting older, and most people’s thoughts and beliefs, just to name a few) over which I have no control. If I can find humility in the face powerlessness, I can allow deeper understanding and acceptance. Even better, I can awaken to a sweet, open state of awe. After all, I’m just a tiny sack of bio-consciousness floating in a limitless expanse of stars.
I enjoyed this talk by Dr. Lani Shiota, who has studied and written about the neurobiology of awe. At this time of year, I like to try to find ways to cultivate awe. I remember, as a child, my mother gathering all of us around her Christmas candle for prayers and contemplation. Something about the cold, dark night and the unfolding mystery of the season made me feel quiet, clear and safe. The mystery is always there, it’s just a matter of paying attention to its signs. For me, awe is a way to stop, back out of striving mind, and bask in the intrinsic and unconditional gift of existence.
Happy Solstice – may you find awe and mystery in your life, today, and every day.
I hope you enjoy this poem, shared with me by a student, Ann Crews. Somehow it reminds me of the importance of ritual, and cycling back, again and again.
Initiation Song from the Finder’s Lodge
By Ursula K. Le Guin
Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well-loved one,
walk mindfully well-loved one,
walk fearlessly, well-loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home.
Join me for this free workshop – Exploring the Tools of Great Yoga Classes on Friday, January 5, in Asheville.
Do something awe inspiring for yourself this year, and sign up for our Subtle Yoga Training and Personal Transformation Program.