A Time for Centering
Happy Winter Solstice! And we're just three days away from my favorite holiday of the year. I would consider myself to be a bit of a Christmas fanatic: I decorate my entire house in red and green as soon as Thanksgiving is over, I bake dozens upon dozens of cookies and treats, I send out my Christmas cards every year, and I have been tuning into (one of my many) Pandora Christmas stations every evening.
However, I will also be the first to admit that many of the activities of the holiday season are somehow missing the point. It's hard to find peace when we all have road rage in an attempt to run all of our errands before Friday. It's a challenge to experience joy when we feel overwhelmed. And it's almost impossible to reflect inward and appreciate the present while our minds are stuck on "To Do" lists and future plans for the week. Even when we limit the focus on gifts and consumerism, we are sometimes so consumed with baking, cleaning, planning, and giving that we neglect to reflect on our own spiritual needs.
It's more than a little ironic (and disturbing) that the busiest, most stressful, and most chaotic holiday season of the year coincides with a time in which our bodies crave centering and peace. With cool air and a short duration of sunlight, we are naturally drawn toward rest, reflection, and relaxation, all of which our culture creates very little time for during this season. The Winter Solstice should create a setting for renewal and rebirth. It's a time to heal wounds, contemplate our purpose, and nourish ourselves. In many parts of the world, the Winter Solstice is celebrated as a welcoming of the sun: starting today, the days will gradually begin to get longer until the summer solstice in June. The long night of the Winter Solstice creates a great stillness that allows the sun to regain its energy.
So in the midst of wrapping presents, mailing cards, and preparing for my holiday guests, I choose to take a few minutes for myself. I am making time for yoga this week. I am lighting candles. I admire my Christmas tree. I spend time with my pets. I am taking time to write and journal, and reflect on the past few months. When my visitors arrive, I will make an effort to be present and peaceful, and admire the beauty that surrounds us in Santa Fe. I choose mindfulness and renewal, because our bodies need to draw inwards and find the centerline, to create space for breath and life, in order to radiate energy outwards.