Tools for navigating the dark night of winter solstice

For years now I’ve been practicing slowing down to honor the winter solstice, and still I have to remind myself that it’s OK to do so amidst a culture that wants us to constantly be on our game.

I spent the last week feeling as if I’d been knocked off course, unable to find the rhythms I was used to, inspiration slowing as I just wanted to curl up and do nothing.

Noooo, I cried out inside, I don’t want to lose my way on my creative path!

But I couldn’t fight it either. I had to admit that inside I was shifting…

So one night I sat down in my coziest creative corner. I could sing, I could journal, I could read…

But instead I just wanted to sit with the mystery.

I closed my eyes and felt the darkness, felt even the discomfort of Not Knowing, felt the shifting sands drifting out from under me to sprinkle out into the void like stars…

So many times I’ve returned to this place, and every single time I still want to hold onto the known, the path ahead.

But I also know that sometimes the only thing to do is stop, even for a moment. For it is dark, the path obscured. I need time for my eyes to adjust to the low light. Like the sun, I must pause before proceeding.

This is what the winter solstice teaches me, over and over again.

So you will find me sitting still, listening…

Slowly, amidst the early months of the new year, I will pick the pieces back up again, and find the path that my feet want to tread back into the world…

But for now I will pause, let myself be quiet, stop striving.

Likely I will sing ~ lullabies to the dark night… I may journal ~ nonsensical ramblings perhaps… And I will take time to listen, to read, to sleep, to dream…

Dear one; in what small or big ways are you giving yourself permission to honor the dark night, the slowing season, the dreaming time?

Will you give yourself the grace of emptiness, of non-striving, of just-being? Even just for moments?

Many people might think, “no, hold onto your dreams at all cost!” But I like the counsel of the I Ching that states, “If you lose your horse, do not run after it… If it is one’s own horse, one can safely let it go; it will come back of its own accord.”

So I will loosen the reins on all even my most beloved of horses, and see which ones are my true companions moving forward…

I hope you will be gentle with yourself in this time. The sun will return, as will energy for full-blown inspiration ~ but what gifts lie here in the quiet dark?…..

{Note: the “return” theme of this post is inspired by the I Ching, hexagram 24, which honors the turning point of the solstice, but also counsels: “In winter the life energy, symbolized by thunder, the Arousing, is still underground. Movement is just at its beginning; therefore it must be strengthened by rest, so that it will not be dissipated by being used prematurely.”}

Enjoy this song, a prayer of return to the soul…

♬ Music & lyrics by Shlomo Carlebach.


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