On December 21 at 5:23 EST, the inhabitants of the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere will celebrate the winter solstice. Astronomically, this means that the tilt of the Earth’s axis is such that the Northern half of the globe will be the farthest from the sun. As a result, the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year with more hours of darkness than light, reminding us that the coldest days are yet to come.
For many, the reminder of winter’s wrath can be unsettling. But once the solstice passes, sunlight increases each day for six months until the summer solstice arrives. To welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of sun, cultures around the world have long celebrated the winter solstice as the time to set our intentions on rebirth and re-creation.
Winter’s brisk days are the effect of a slow moving world. When snow begins to fall and the ground freezes, the activity on Earth is slower. Plants wither away. Animals head into hibernation. Humans migrate indoors. After the winter solstice, there is less activity on Earth. As such, the winter solstice symbolically asks us to be still and observe the parts of our lives with the potential for growth or rebirth.
The stillness of the season and our natural tendency to move inward—physically and symbolically—underscores the solstice’s intention of pausing so that we can observe and remove the obstacles that separate us from our Highest Truth. Just as the trees are leafless in winter, we must shed our old layers. During the dark days of winter, we must peel away the stratum of obstacles that do not serve so that we can arrive at the New Year as open vessels, free of our old obstacles.
Here are a few ideas to help you make space for removing obstacles and be sure to spend time on your mat this month at Longwave to learn more ways to clear the path.
- Practice the mantra “let go.” Repeat it during your practice. Chant it in the shower. Say it in the car. Use this mantra as much as you can so that when you truly need to let go, you already know how.
- Perform a fire puja. Write down the obstacles that stand in your way, and (safely) burn your musings as a symbolic gesture of removal.
- Make a sweet shrine to Ganesha, The Remover of Obstacles and Lord of New Beginnings.
- Meditate. Find the wintry stillness so you can observe and let go of what stands in your way.
- Observe Pancha Ganapati (Check out our blog next week to learn more!)