December 21, 2022
1:48 pm PST
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Traditional cultures around the world imagined that the midwinter sun needed conscious help from humans in order to avoid being devoured by the expanse of darkness that nips at the edges of life itself.
The “holidays” were more often thought of as holy days, because the rebirth of the sun at solstice was both symbolic and a description (at the same time) of the potential awakening and inner illumination of the heart and soul of each person.
Our souls shelter an “inner sun,” that deep and giving self that is also a light found inside darkness, the unconscious generosity that is our true nature. The holy days and our hidden light within contain the blueprint of the sacredness of life as well as our personal connection to the world’s capacity to renew and heal itself in the darkest times.
The solstice reflects our capacity to assist in the renewal of life despite and because of the darkness around us. It offers us an opportunity to affirm our connection to the Soul of the World and the eternal rhythms of life.
Solstice means “sun stands still.” This cosmic turning point gives us a sense of stillness before the light of life begins to return from the depths of darkness.
Today I invite you to connect with the moment that the sun stops in time, just before the darkness becomes too great to recover from. Humans have images for the origins of the universe; in Zen, it’s branches of light streaming from the dark or water rippling from a still spring.
Today, take the time in your busy life to experience the gift of life which is that light secretly burning within your soul.
Begin by inviting your Ancestors and inviting the four directions with your rattle or drum.
Meditation with Koan:
There is a solitary brightness without fixed shape or form.
It knows how to listen to the teachings,
it knows how to understand the teachings,
it knows how to teach.
That solitary brightness is you.
In your meditation allow yourself to enter into the darkness where the obstacles and challenges that you do not wish to carry with you into the new year are released as a healing or power for the earth, the world, and humanity. As you spend time in the underworld and offer what you do not wish to carry into the next year, sit with the space this creates for you, and allow what you wish to give birth to, to arise within your body. Feel it, sense it, give it form, give it words and possibilities. Wrap it in cloth and spin a shell or covering around it and place it in your heart. Feel the warmth being generated around it and inside it. This is the beginning of it taking root and gestating for the winter.
When you are done with this meditation write in your journal what you are gestating.
Light a candle and let it be that which you intend to bring into the world come Spring, When you have really let this infultrate your heart and soul, blow out the candle which will plant your intentional seeds into the earth.
When complete spend about 5 minutes chanting OM and sing Holy Night. Intentionally release Pillars of Light, the directions and the Ancestors.
Fall is the time of harvesting. It is a time to gather together the fruits of your labor and store them for the lean times of winter. Nature has a wisdom to offer us with each season in the cycle of life. The Golden Wind comes, the leaves dry up and fall to the ground so that when the rains come the leaves become food, nutrients and fodder for the springtime of new life.
What are the fruits of your labor this year? What can you gather together from this past year to hold you over through the dark time of Winter? What will become food, nutrients and fodder for your life come springtime?
Here is a ritual for you to enjoy as you welcome in the Golden Wind.
FOREST BATHING RITUAL
RITUAL TO BE DONE OUTSIDE
Find a place in nature with trees and a spring if possible.
Begin with this Koan Meditation:
Take a deep breath. Breathe out! Again.
Here is a Koan to sit with:
I go to wild places in search for my true self, at such a moment, where is my true self?
When you have centered yourself just notice your surroundings. Feel your feet firmly on the ground. Pick something up off the ground and feel it in your hands – concentrate on how you interact with this being – feel your skin, your muscles, bones and how they are each affected by this interaction.
This is your entry into the time of the harvest. You are gathering the fruits of this year. You placed your intentions into the dark deep soil of the earth at the Winter Solstice, then witnessed the promise of those intentions as they began to awaken and bloom in the Spring. You then planted the seeds of those dreams and intentions into the earth in the summer, and now you harvest the fruit.
What are you harvesting? What have you intended and dreamt into being that has now provided you the fruit to harvest? What is your intention regarding these fruits and how can you use this time today? Write in your journal for 5 minutes
Walk throughout the forest.
Close your eyes and tune into each of your senses individually—the sense of the space – the air around you; the exchange of your breath with the breath of the trees and the plants,
Keeping you eyes closed - just breathe, just breathe
Now tune into the scents/smells
Now, the sounds – what do you hear?
Can you feel the presence of the trees, the soil, the beings in and around the earth’s ground? The gentleness and generosity of the forest?
How about the taste of the woods? Let your tongue take in the subtle taste in the air. Can you taste it?
Now, begin to walk a bit.
Slowly turn and notice how your senses may differ in each direction, (East, South, West, North). Now, settle on a direction you felt most drawn to and see if you can “track a particular scent until you lose it”, then pick up another scent and track it.
Find a surface you are drawn to and run your fingers along its surface. What do you notice?
Focus on the various sounds around you, what do you hear? What is the dominant sound? Now listen for the distance subtle sounds. What do you notice?
I like to think of this part of Forest Bathing as a threshold experience, a movement fully into a kind of altered state and altered relationship with the earth from how you navigate day to day.
So I’d like to invite you to ask permission to sit in the spot you find. Listen for an answer. Don’t assume you have permission! It may be a “no” and if it is, find another spot.
Reciprocity is an essential element of connection with all beings. It supports the development of relationships. This is the acknowledgment of both giving and receiving. So when you have your sit spot, make an offering of tobacco or water, a song, or a prayer. You can be creative with your offering, but have it be a genuine offering.
You ask permission, you listen, if yes, you make a small prayer of gratitude and love to the place, the trees, etc., and sprinkle the offering around.
If you are sitting with a tree or shrub, plant, be sure to give it some water. Then just sit for about 20 minutes. Your sit spot can be a dry place in a meadow, a tree stump or fallen log, or a large boulder. Avoid anything that may disturb animal habitats. Once you find your location, sit down. Quietly observe your surroundings.
When you are ready, consciously speak what it is that you are harvesting. What are you taking out of this year you have traveled. What have you learned? Write at least three things in your journal. When you are complete. Once again sit with the Koan and let your full heart shine out into your surroundings.
When you are complete. Offer your gratitude to the place you have been sitting, gather your things and return to your homes.
Transform Your Life
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