You may already know that tomorrow is one of the most significant cosmic events of the year: The Winter Solstice.
I’d like to share some information about this auspicious time and how we can utilise the energy available to us all with 3 simple practices.
About the Winter Solstice
The 21st of December is the moment when the earth’s tilt reaches its tipping point, bringing the northern hemisphere furthest away from the sun and the southern hemisphere closest to the sun. This results in the longest night of the year for those of us in the northern part of the world and the shortest night for those in the southern part.
Although this date is also known as ‘Midwinter’ above the equator and ‘Midsummer’ below the equator and it may indeed feel more like we are “in the middle of it”, than at the end or the beginning of anything. Astrologically speaking, it is the end of a 6 month cycle where days have been getting longer or shorter depending on where you are, and the beginning of another 6 month cycle where the opposite will begin to happen.
And why does this matter?
Simply put: The macro and the micro are directly linked or in other words as the Earth shifts so do we. This planetary transition from darkness to light (for those of us in the north) is associated with death and rebirth and is a great time to consider what parts of ourselves must die for a new version of ourselves to come into existence.
Winter solstice rituals
As we are plunged into darkness for the longest night of the year, we can connect with the light within ourselves with this simple practice known as Trāṭaka Meditation.
Cushion to sit on
Blanket to stay warm
Candle and candle holder
Incense or smudge stick to purify the space
Furniture to place the candle on so it is level with your third eye chakra - ājňā chakra (between your eyebrows)
Create your space for practice (Choose a quiet space where you will not be interrupted and where the candle won’t be blown out) and light incense or a smudge stick to begin the ritual
Sit in a meditation pose and take a few clearing breaths
Light the candle and begin to breathe slowly and deeply
Gaze at the centre of the flame just above the wick for as long as feels comfortable without blinking
Close your eyes and turn your gaze up to your third eye chakra to practice Shambhavi Mudra
Try to keep the image of the flame in your awareness for as long as possible
When the image disappears open your eyes again to gaze at the candle
Repeat this process for 10-20minutes
You can silently repeat the mantra Om or AUM throughout the meditation to help focus your mind
The flame of the candle represents the inner light and by gazing at it you can connect with the unseen light within you that is always lit, even when you are not aware of it.
Benefits of Trāṭaka meditation
This ancient meditation technique has many benefits from increased concentration to improving mental and emotional wellbeing.
Our gaze and breathing patterns influence our mental activity and emotional state therefore by learning to slow our breath and still our gaze we can consciously come back to a more relaxed state any time anywhere.
We can also use this time to go within and contemplate the past 6 months and set our intentions for the 6 months ahead of us. I recommend doing the meditation first and answering the journaling questions after.
Taking the time to ask ourselves questions helps make the subconscious conscious. By becoming aware of patterns and limiting beliefs we make space for new ways of being - allowing for a new version of ourselves to be born.
Journaling prompts you may find insightful:
What has happened in the past 6 months?
What did I learn?
What did I overcome?
What am I ready to let go of? (beliefs, behaviours, habits)
How can I use my experiences of the past 6 months to help me blossom?
Visualisation is another practice that can inspire us to make changes and it can be facilitated by the trataka meditation. When practicing visualisation it is important to embrace where we are now, giving thanks for what we have and who we are, whilst allowing ourselves to dream big.
We may want to use the wellness wheel to consider different areas of our life.
We may also want to ask ourselves the following questions:
What do I dream of?
What feelings do I want to cultivate?
What do I want to call into my life?
How do I want to give back?
What steps can I make to make these aspirations true?
What can I do today to begin the journey in this direction? - no matter how small.
Remember, most of the time we tend to be our own biggest obstacle and 'impossible' is mostly a matter of perception ;)
I hope these rituals bring peace and inspiration to whoever needs them today.
If you are not able to practice on the night of the solstice, do not worry, the energy is maximised in the days prior and after this cosmic event.
My warmest wishes to you and your loved ones, and all beings everywhere
If you are interested in learning more about yogic practices, we will be offering a 200hour Yoga Teacher Training in Guatemala this February during which we'll dive deep into the Philosophy and practices of Yoga including meditation, postures, breath work, the nervous system, mudra, mantra and many other themes.
You can find more information here: Breath Body Earth Yoga School
Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.