Winter Solstice — Going Within

The light of the Sun begins a new solar cycle at Winter Solstice. The rays shine into the dark and nurture the newborn life that is there waiting to be cultivated. We see this reflected in nature and the womb of life within and all around us. When seeds are buried in the darkness of the Earth they will emerge once again with the life-giving rays of the Sun.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol “sun” and sistere “to stand still.” At the solstices, the Sun’s decline appears to “stand still.” The seasonal movement of the Sun’s daily path as seen from Earth pauses at a northern or southern limit before reversing direction.

At winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, we are experiencing the longest and darkest nights of the year and the shortest days with the least amount of daylight.

The dark triumphs over the light, but this signifies a turning point! We are invited into a sacred time for rest and reflection before the awakening and emergence toward brighter days are upon us. Silence calls us to lie dormant as the earth falls silent.

The energy of winter is that of going within. It’s the fruitful darkness and silence out of which our soul’s yearnings and new inspirations can eventually emerge.  As we consciously link our awareness to nature’s cycles, our understanding of our own personal growth cycles begins to deepen.

Why do we spend so much time suppressing and hiding our darkness? When negative emotions come up and we feel them, they often feel inconvenient, uncomfortable, or worse, we make ourselves wrong for feeling them. Our modern culture has forgotten the necessity to honor the cycles of the season. We are conditioned to push ahead, keep the candle burning on both ends, “go, go, go!” We might believe and tell ourselves, “This is too much. I am too much.”

When we fear our own darkness, we cut ourselves off from an essential source of our own personal power — our capacity to feel our emotions and to listen to our need for rest — to be still. The key is kindness and understanding that darkness can be one of the greatest catalysts for personal growth and transformation.

We can learn to befriend and look directly into the heart of darkness with kindness. We can learn to see dark energies as gifts to learn and grow from. Often the limitations we feel in our life are symptoms of something that is going on beneath the surface. Simply talking or educating ourselves about something may give us different operating instructions but will not mend underlying feelings of loss, disconnection, or separation. Winter solstice invites us to utilize the dark as an opportunity to pause, hibernate and drop deep within. When we go within and don’t look for an external source to fix or comfort us, we are able to engage our personal power, intuition, and internal guidance to experience what we may have hidden from yet we long for — to feed our soul.

We awaken to the completely unclouded — unsunny experience of how things really are. Going within, we can find out what is true by exploring ourselves in every nook and cranny, in every black pit or sunny expanse, whether it’s muddy, eerie, ghastly, alarming, inspirational, festive, serene, or raging wildly.

By allowing ourselves to experience everything exactly as it is (all emotions), the darkness itself can become the spiritual cradle into which our inner light and life are born anew, fresh, and alive like never before.

When we fear our own darkness, we cut ourselves off from an essential source of our own personal power and freedom. We don’t have to look at everything all at once. We can go slow, breathe in restful ease, and exhale kindness all along the way. We allow our feelings to guide us because our feelings are our truth. When we feel morbid and discouraged like this is too hard, too messy, and wonder, “Where’s the joy in all this?” We need to call upon our soft honesty.

Going within requires honesty. But honestly without kindness can cause us to loop around in unfriendly neighborhoods, in vicious cycles of unrest. We ask ourselves, “Am I being kind?” Have I lost sight of how far I have already traveled? Have I forgotten that I like everyone else am an imperfect human being? We don’t want to lose sight of the parts of who we are that are content and the experiences we are grateful for. Honesty without kindness, humor, and good-heartedness can make us feel miserable and mean.

From beginning to end in discovering the truth, we never have to “go it” alone. Going deep within requires friendliness and respect for what we find. It is always a good idea to reach out, check in with a friend, visit nature and/or do something entirely non-sensible and silly. This is important because the more we look into our darkness, we are looking into the darkness of all of humanity. We’re discovering the depth of the universe. We discover that all that lies dormant is also awakening — rebirthing itself.

Humor is a staple ingredient for looking into the heart of darkness.

Winter Solstice is the great stillness before the Sun’s strength builds, and days grow longer. It is a time to go within — hibernate, rest and reflect with humor, gentleness, and kindness.