Even though the natural world reflects more quiet, more darkness and more stillness this time of year, we humans tend to get amped up in our busyness, making long shopping and to-do lists and booking our calendars full of social events. It’s no wonder we often walk into the new year feeling depleted and disconnected.
The winter solstice on December 21st signifies the longest night and shortest day of the year (in the Northern hemisphere). We also celebrate the "rebirth" of the light as the days begin to grow longer again. Most of our holiday traditions this time of year are rooted in a celebration of this natural return of the light/sun/son into our world. Winter solstice is a powerful transition and a good re-set time.
So in the spirit of solstice, I invite you take a PAUSE with me. And you don’t have to retreat to the mountains to do this exercise. You can pause right in the middle of your busyness, wherever you are, to realign yourself with the seasonal rhythms of winter: slowing down and going within.
When we choose to end our year with intentional self-care and meditative reflection, it carries us into the new year with more spaciousness, groundedness and clarity for what matters most in our lives.
Find a quiet and cozy spot where you won't be distracted and bring your favorite journal and pen. Light a candle. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Take mindful inhales and exhales for a minute or two. Then open your eyes and use the following prompts for journaling:
1. First, Acknowledge the Good. It’s easy to forget all the gifts of this past year and focus instead on what we didn’t like, so make a choice to consciously shift your awareness to the positive. Make statements that begin with “I am proud that I have…” (insert accomplishments)… or “I am proud that I have become” (insert qualities or expressions of presence). I am grateful for… (a lesson, an experience, etc.)
2. Reframe the Challenges. Don’t ignore the struggles of this past year or any self-criticism that may come up. We all have echoes of an inner mean voice, so allow it to be heard, but reframe it with self-compassion: For example, instead of beating myself up that my I did not finish or publish my book as I intended to in 2016, I can have compassion for myself that I gained valuable experience as a newly divorced mother learning to stand on my own this past year, and see that I now have a broader, wiser perspective to share in the pages of my book when it does get published.
3. Release What No Longer Serves. Write down on a separate piece of paper whatever you want to leave behind in 2016. This can be self-criticism, an attitude or behavior, a bad habit, a situation or relationship or whatever is no longer serving your highest good. Begin by stating “I choose to release…” Then when you’re done, take this release list and ceremonially burn it in the fireplace or let it disintegrate in a bowl of salt water.
4. Set Your Intentions. Write down three potent words that describe how you want to FEEL as you step into 2017. Mine are RADIANT, CLEAR and LOVING. Add to that all the qualities and skills, wisdom and lessons you would like to carry with you into 2017. Include your intentions/goals for the year here, too. We have to make time to slow down and listen to our inner wisdom to know what goals are important to us and why.
5. Visualize Your Dream. Take some extra time to make a vision board or another form of art with these words, wisdom and intentions for your new year. Display it in a place you will see everyday. Energy follows imagination, so make time every day to close your eyes and “imagine” the goals and intentions that you’ve set are already a reality.
Embrace the gifts of 2016 and declare it complete. Welcome 2017 with the clarity and calm that comes from the inner wisdom found in the pause.
With blessings and love,