Sometimes we Yoga: A meditation for Winter Solstice

Meditation for the first day of winter

I taught a yoga class that happened to occur at the same time as the winter solstice, so I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on that change. I wrote a meditation for my class, and am sharing it with you here, on my blog.

As we start to settle into our meditation, finding a deep awareness of the breath. Feeling air move in and out of the body. Noticing the temperature of the air, the way it feels as it fills our lungs, and then how it moves out of the body on an exhale.

Taking several breaths here with deep awareness of the breath.

And then allowing our attention to shift to the space behind our closed eyes, to a point between our eyes and in the center of our heads, to the middle of our minds. To a place where it’s dark, and warm, and cozy.

Taking a moment to consider that today is the first day of winter, the shortest day of the year. This morning, the sun rose at 7:23am, and it will set at 4:52pm. That allows us just about nine and a half hours of daylight today, and 14 and a half hours of darkness.

Sometimes we may experience a sense of dread about darkness, cold, and the winter season. But I invite you to take a moment to think of positives about the darkness. About dark spaces that are good and pleasant and enjoyable. For example, being curled up in a warm and comfortable bed, or any other pleasant darkness that occurs to you.

Thinking also about pleasant winter experiences. Everyone’s are different. Think about something you particularly enjoy, whether it’s an activity like skiing or ice skating, or sitting by a warm fire, or eating delicious stews, or watching the first snow fall.

Then bringing awareness to the fact that change is the only constant and reliable circumstance of life. Seasons change. Leaves fall, fields lay dormant, insects go to sleep, bears hibernate, birds migrate. It all happens to clear the slate and remove obstacles so that the cycle of rebirth and renewal can begin in the spring.

So here we are at the beginning of winter, the close of a year, and the beginning of a new age. Deciding for ourselves what kinds of internal obstacles we might want to clear in this season of change, and visualizing what we would like our futures to look like when the cycle of rebirth and renewal begin in the spring.

Taking several moments to visualize one favored aspect of our preferred future—whether it’s an improved sense of self-love, a greater understanding of another person or situation, or anything at all that matters to us. Taking several breaths here, visualizing that positive change we’d like to experience in the future.

Finally, thinking of one—just one—obstacle we can move to make it easier for this change to occur in our lives. Nothing complicated. It can be something as simple as saying something nice to ourselves once each day.

And taking our resolve with us as we start to return our awareness to this room, and we start to return our breath to a normal waking breathing pattern, and as we gently roll to one side or the other, into the fetal position, and as we make our way to a seated position of choice.

And as we inhale and bring hands over our heads, embracing the darkness around us. And as we exhale and bring hands to heart center, knowing that we carry our own light inside. And as we close our practice today, May you be a light to others in all the dark spaces you encounter.

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