In Part One of this series, we discussed why and how the cycles of nature are also happening in us, and are therefore important to us. In Part Two we discussed what, exactly, is going on during this darkest season of the year, culminating in the shortest day and longest night. We discussed how it’s a time of reflection, deep pondering, quiet, processing, rest, and planning.
Now we get on to practical matters. How, at this busiest time of all times, do we manage to embrace the energies of slowing down and inner musing?
I have a holiday tradition that helps me with this, and some tips too.
The Annual Dear Santa Letter
Every year, I write a letter to Santa. I start it around the second week of December so I have lots of time to tweak it. It includes my heartfelt thanks for all the wonders that have manifested in the year gone by, and then goes on to state all of my wishes, hopes, dreams and goals for the coming year. I ask for all of them. And I ask BIG. This is just between me and the Universe. No one else ever sees it. (Although I sometimes post a public version for inspiration to others.) I conclude by asking how I can continue to serve.
I do believe in Santa Claus. If thoughts are things, and if the more something is thought upon the more “real” it becomes, then what could possibly be more real than Santa? His history is varied and deep and older than St. Nicholas, for whom he’s named. His energy, his spirit, is the very spirit of Generosity. It’s the energy of Jupiter, the giver of gifts. It’s the spirit of sharing, of giving, of bringing happiness to all. I love Santa Claus!
When you’re making your endless lists in the earlier part of the month, add a note to Santa, and then add to it every time you work on your gift lists.
I leave the letter out, rolled up and wrapped in a ribbon, with an offering of cookies and milk, on the Night of the Winter Solstice (that’s Saturday the 21st this year.) I leave it out again on Christmas Eve. On Christmas day, I burn the letter in the fireplace, letting the smoke carry my message to the Universe. I crumble the cookies and toss the crumbs and the milk outside to nourish nature’s children.
The Week Between….
To find time for meditating and mulling, make use of the week AFTER Christmas. Yes, you’ve missed the exact shortest day of the year, but you are still in the very darkest period of the year and can still capture its energy.
So during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, begin to try taking ten or fifteen minutes to sit in relaxed stillness every day. Either first thing in the morning when you get up, over that initial cup of coffee, or last thing in the evening right before bed.
After each session of stillness, spend a few more minutes thinking about or even writing about how things went this past year, what you spent most of your time doing, what you produced, what changes you implemented, and what results you saw from those things. Mainly, you want to focus on how you felt and what things in your life contributed to those feelings. What made you happy? What kept you from happiness? What can you think about doing differently in the coming year that will give you more of the good stuff and less of the bad?
Don’t mull too long on what’s wrong. Identify it, and then focus on what you would prefer. I’d like my house neater and more organized this year. I should clear out clutter, give a bunch of stuff away, re-organize. I’d like to worry less about debt this year. I should focus my mind on the abundance I do have, so that I can make it grow, and maybe get a logical plan in place to help me pay debts down slowly and steadily.
I’d like the perfect person to come along to help me with this. I’d like my car to stop breaking down all the time. I’ll focus on getting where I need to be in a safe and reliable vehicle, and I’ll recall all the times my car did what it was supposed to do instead of focusing on those times it did not. This way I can attract a car that does what it should every time. I’d like to be thinner. I’ll focus on stopping the obsession with calories in and calories out. I’ll stop counting and thinking all the time about body shape. Instead, I’ll focus on loving my food, praising it and giving sincere thanks for it before I eat it. I’ll savor its taste and know that it is nurturing me, and I’ll spend much more time loving my body and noticing how perfect it is for me and all the wonderful things I can do with it. I’ll enjoy more. I’ll worry less. I’ll love more, and be angry less. I’ll listen more and talk less.
Another topic for pondering is this: How can I serve? Think about what your true gift is, and how you can share it. If there’s something you love doing above all else, that’s your gift. It might be storytelling or painting or singing. It might be repairing car engines or cleaning houses. It might be programming a computer or reading aloud. It might be pruning trees and growing vegetables. Whatever you love most, that’s the biggest clue to what your gift is. Mull on this. What is your gift? How can you share it? And how can you serve the Whole of humanity by using it to its fullest potential?
This is our work of this time of year. And this practice of taking time to mull, to ponder, or just simply to close your eyes and be still and let the thoughts fly in and out of your mind, watching them pass but not grabbing onto any of them–this is meditation. And if you start it now, you will find it easier to keep your practice going all year long. Fifteen minutes a day, or even ten, just for yourself. Really, isn’t that the best gift of all?
The point of it is to be relaxed and at ease, not to feel rushed and be thinking of the million things you have to get to when you finish. Put all that aside. This is sacred time, and it’s the wintertime task of the spiritual seeker.
Try it out and let me know your results.
The next big shift in Nature’s cycle happens February 2nd, the exact halfway point between the shortest day of the year, and the Vernal Equinox, when day and night are equal. At that time, known to the Celts as Imbolc, we begin the actual preparation work for the growth to come.