Today is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. At 4:48pm EST and 10:47pm CET we mark the first day of Winter as the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun and the light of the sun begins a new solar cycle. Although we typically think of the Winter Solstice as giving us the longest night and the shortest day of the year, I like to remember that it also marks the turning point…. Beginning tomorrow the days get longer.
Solstice comes from two words in Latin: sol– meaning “the sun” and sistere meaning “to make stand.” During the Winter Solstice the axis of the Earth pauses, shifts and turns in the opposite direction.
The energy of winter represents that of going within. Reflecting the cycles of nature, it is a time to rest and reflect before awakening to the light of longer days. Many traditions across the globe teach that from the darkness and silence of going inward during winter, our soul’s yearnings and new inspirations eventually emerge.
Although 2022 brought some good news, from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the US Supreme Court overturning abortion rights to Queen Elizabeth II’s passing to more Covid variants, heatwaves, floods and droughts, inflation and quiet quitting, it feels more like a year of chaos. And amid the end of year race to shop for the holidays, make travel plans, tie up loose ends at work, and achieve your personal goals, you may be craving much-needed quiet, solitude, and nourishment. And the Winter Solstice offers each of us this….
Across the world, people perform ceremonies and personal rituals to acknowledge the endings & new beginnings in our individual lives at the time of the Solstice. To honor what we each have cultivated during the past year, reconsider the lessons we’ve learned and recalibrate to create the personal space we crave in our lives!
And while I suspect you may not be able to take today day off, what about unplugging from all your devices for 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after the Solstice (yes, 30 minutes!) to welcome the intelligence of nature and acknowledge your own growth cycle? Over the years, I’ve done my best to perform a ritual (dependent on the exact time of the Solstice that is!) – sometimes alone and sometimes with my team at work, my family or my friends. Here are 3 ceremonial exercises you can easily do alone, with colleagues, your children or friends:
- Write down the things that you have achieved this year and consider what you have taken on that does not support you. After reviewing them, tear them up and throw them away, ceremoniously releasing them. Then spend a few moments dreaming and visioning what you would like to experience and manifest in the coming year without the burden of the things you’ve released.
- Connect with the rhythm of nature through mindful walking. Go outside and awaken your senses intentionally noticing and experiencing your surroundings – whether you’re in a city, the suburbs, on a beach or in the woods. Notice your breathing: is it steady or variable? What colors and shapes do you see? What do you feel: the sun on your face, the cold air blowing air against your skin? What do you smell: food, a dog, the salt water, the earth? What do you hear: cars passing, a firetruck, children running, birds singing, waves breaking on the shore, silence?
- Contemplate ways to be your best self, illuminating the darkness by shining your light out in the world. What random acts of #kindness and support can you perform to nourish others and yourself before the new year beins?
Today, take time to reframe the Winter Solstice as a powerful time for reflection and growth. A moment to release the old and reset. A catalyst that supports a turning point.