I just got home from two conferences that will likely change my life and my practice: one was FNCE, the national dietitian’s conference, and the other was a five-day intensive internet marketing conference. My flight today left at noon from Phoenix and arrived about 6 pm EST. The transition was startling to me, because where I was, was full of sunshine and light till 8 pm or so; and when the plane landed in Philadelphia, it was already dusky to dark.
And this made me reflect on the time of the year we are entering – the beginning of the end of the year celebrations. Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year (Dec 21).
Eleven days ago, was Halloween, and the winter solstice is coming. The ancient peoples were very attentive to seasons and the Sun’s position in the sky, because their survival often depended on planting and harvesting at the proper times. Many of these days were observed as pagan holidays of one sort or another; a few, like Halloween, have survived to modern times in (somewhat) recognizable form.
Tomorrow it is supposed to be very cold and snow in my area, and that reminds me that the winter can be, for me and perhaps for you, more than just a few long, cold, dark months with nasty weather and with seemingly no end in sight. I hate that.
To many, this time of year is a very spiritual period, full of special days and spiritual rituals. In fact, to some, all of that extra darkness isn’t a bad thing at all — it actually adds to the spiritual significance of the day.
For those of us who struggle with food, though, it can feel like months of landmines and struggles. But the truth is that this can be a powerful time of renewal and powerful spiritual energy – if you let it, and are open to that energy.
The winter solstice celebrates the longest hours of darkness or the rebirth of the sun and is believed to hold a powerful energy for regeneration, renewal and self-reflection. In Pagan times the winter solstice was referred to as Yule and was a celebration of the Goddess (Moon) energy. It was believed that on this day, the moon would give birth to the sun. That certainly puts a slightly more magical spin on things!
Each year, the winter solstice falls a few days before Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This is symbolic of the birth of a spiritual “sun” within us. The winter solstice is a time of quiet energy, where you get the opportunity to look within yourself and focus on what you want and need. It’s a time to set goals and intentions for the coming year, to examine and let go of the past, and to make changes within ourselves. The solstice is essentially tied to a personal awakening.
It is the time for us to consider making changes within ourselves. This could bring a whole new meaning to your new year’s resolutions. Here are a few strategies for taking advantage of this special time.
Try to get outside while it’s light out to connect with nature. Take a walk, go for a hike, bundle up and enjoy your coffee while sitting outside for a little bit. You won’t have much time, so take advantage of it while you can!
Honor the gift of the light of the sun. Become aware of how much the sun and lack of it affects your life.
Look at the issues that bind you from what you really want. Get rid of the past you don’t need by writing down these things – and would it help to burn them in your fireplace? Or are there other actions you need to take? This is a time where you aren’t to be harsh with yourself about your decisions, and you really let yourself let things go.
At the heart of the solstice was the custom of family and friends feasting together and exchanging presents. Continue this custom in a new way that works for you. Have a meal with old and dear friends. Visit with those you love. Write letters to those who are too far away.
Probably the most important spiritual meaning of the winter solstice is that this is a time meant to reflect and recreate yourself. Light a candle, keep the lights off, and embrace the darkness.
When can you make a time to turn your phone off, and don’t even think about using a laptop or your TV — not even your smart watch! Take some time to think deeply about yourself, your past, and what you want for your future. Could there be a better way to enter the new year?
And what do you want for your food this holiday season? Weight Watchers is already advertising a new diet program to help people lose weight after the new year. Is that what you really want? Is that how you want to live your life?
And what do you really need for this time? What support do you need? Is there a way I could help you? Send me your thoughts, plans, and suggestions – I am eager to hear them.
Blessings to you,