HELLO DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND...
December 21 is the shortest day of the year, also known as the Winter Solstice.
In the hustling, bustling craziness of the holiday season, the Winter Solstice provides a remarkable opportunity to slow down and reconnect with nature. It’s your chance to hit your own personal *Pause* button and regroup for the long winter ahead.
Hundreds of years ago, before electricity, cars, iPhones, Twitter, and the internet (gasp!), families certainly noticed the shortest day of the year. They noticed it because didn’t have any other choice. When the sun went down, the light disappeared, and their day was done. D-o-n-e, done.
Most of you will be working, commuting, or driving kids around when the sun sets tonight, but that doesn’t mean you lose out on the celebrating the Solstice.
Here are a few ideas of ways to get back in touch with Mother Nature today (and give your body and spirit the b-r-e-a-k they’re patiently waiting for):
- Sometime today, get outside and go on a winter journey. Go to a frozen lake, a bench in your backyard, your favorite tree, an old cemetery, or even a swing in a concrete Manhattan park. Spend whatever time you can spare at this special site, breathing deeply and noticing the energy of the earth. If you are in a warmer state like CA, take your shoes off and stand with nothing in between your feet and the earth. Ben and I plan to stand in the snow tonight with our bare feet, to connect to our chilly Boston earth.
- I forget where I read this ritual, but I like it...! At dinner tonight, pass around an orange or clementine. Have each person peel off a portion of the rind, while sharing one thing they’d like to “peel away” from their life. Once the orange is peeled, send it around again. Each person eats a section of the orange while sharing one new wish or intention for the winter. (My personal note: don’t throw out the orange rind. You can put these (along with some cloves or cinnamon sticks) in a pot of simmering water on the stove. Your house will smell deliciously yummy all night).
- Spend the evening in darkness. Turn off all the lights and use candles to light your home (this will allow you to really experience the longest night... and it will make your kids sleepy VERY early!). Here in Andover, MA, the sun will set at 4:14 p.m. tonight. The darkness is calling to me, and I hope to be in bed before 8:00 p.m. tonight.
- Spend the evening in silence and stillness. Turn off the phone, radio, computer, and television. Stay inside, and avoid those last-minute holiday errands. This is the perfect night to play Scrabble or read a good book (by candlelight), take a long bath, or do some slow, relaxing yoga. The stillness may bring up feelings of sadness, which may make you eager to turn on the lights and check your email. It’s OK to let the sadness come up. Winter is the time for sadness, and it’s totally normal. What’s not normal is the way we suppress our sad feelings and let shopping, sitcoms, and social media distract us from feeling what we truly feel. If sad feelings come up today, journal about them or simply let them pass over you without judgment.
- Go to bed early. Trust me, your body wants to. Trust me, your body needs to.
I’d love to hear how you decided to celebrate the beginning of the Winter that, as of Dec. 21, pulls us in with its introspective, hibernating embrace.