By Etecia Brown
Winter Solstice arrives December 21st. The shortest day of the year and a time for spiritual transformation. Winter Solstice has been celebrated as a day honoring the birth of the sun, in ancient Egypt, Horus (sun of God); in ancient India, Krishna (sun of God); in ancient Persia, Mithra (sun of god); in ancient Greece, Attis (sun of God), in Christianity there was Jesus. There are thousands of stories depicting deities as saviors battling darkness. These stories speak to us of spiritual transformation. These ancient stories speak to us of attaining enlightenment, self-realization, returning to the spiritual Source awakened. All that we know must first be born. Winter Solstice is a celebration of the birth of our awakening. Every year we make commitments to meet goals, and honor our self care practices, take up new hobbies, etc. During this season we take inventory of the aspects of our being and where we would like to grow this year. This cold time of year represents the inner darkness we experience and our movement toward light. From the Summer Solstice to the Winter Solstice days become shorter. These basic environmental conditions, in addition to the social pressures of this "holiday" season, make it difficult for many to deal with the triggers that may come up when confronting this pull toward spiritual transformation.
Any time of the year can bring on feelings of stress and anxiety. In fact, most of us today, especially Black and Indigenous folks, live with some level of chronic stress due to existing in a society supported by white supremacy. People of color are constantly comparing themselves to others in an effort to not be "other" (i.e. W.E.B. Dubois' double consciousness). The pressure of not being enough seems to get exacerbated during this holiday season. There seems to be constant pressure to do more. It is important that we carve out time to be silent or reflective so that we may discover the things that bring us the most joy and realize our divine potential. During the Winter Solstice take advantage of the high receptivity of your Spirit, allow only positive thoughts and energy to enter you. But how do you protect your spirit from getting the "Holiday Blues"?
The first step is to find your Tribe. Being alone can trigger many of us to feel unwanted, unimportant, or forgotten. Even if your family is not close by or is harmful to your well being it is important that you create your own kinship with folks around you who share your interests/beliefs. Building community is a great way to warm the spirit.
Secondly, it is important to take what you need. If your family is dysfunctional or not accepting of who you are and the thought of spending time with them gives you anxiety, don't go! Forcing reunions do more harm than good in the long run. You will leave your family gathering feeling drained of energy and emotionally triggered and open. Don't let the holidays guide you to relive or recollect traumatic past experiences. You are not obligated to spend time with your family. Check in with yourself. Ask what it is that your spirit needs. Be gentle with yourself. There is nothing wrong with you doing what feels right. Communicate to your family why you can't come over (or not). And spend your time with people who love you, support you, and honor your being.
Third, let go of expectations. We tend to plan to do a lot during this holiday season especially come New Year's Eve. There is no such thing as perfection. What is the reality you have created for yourself? How can you work towards growing into the reality you would like to be living? Pressures to buy gifts and be "merry" can lead us to feel ungrounded. Take time to set intentions rather than just NYE goals or resolutions. Who are you here to become?
Don't let the Holiday season get the best of you:
- Observe and understand the problematic relationship dynamics that the holidays reintroduce to our lives
- Stay away from people who trigger negative emotions
- Take time to love yourself. Mind your spirit. Refuse to do things that don't feel good.
- Be proactive. Remind yourself of the blessings and light all around you. (Write in a journal, meditate, practice yoga-medicate mindfully)
- Surround yourself with light people. People who love you.
- Participating in community activities and events that allow you to connect with others and bring joy.
Although our society has created a system to conform to and patterns to fall in, especially during this holiday season, we do not have to abide. You can create new traditions to celebrate the Winter Solstice and honor the light in you. Your conscious awareness is a spiritual spark found in the sun and stars. We are safe outside the system. Mindfulness can help us to discern what feels good this holiday season (and throughout the year). Develop a practice of gratitude ('I give thanks for my warm blanket', 'I'm grateful for the sunshine', 'I'm grateful for my breath', 'I'm grateful for the friend's I can call'...). With this practice you will begin to feel a weight lifted off your shoulders. You will notice yourself taking full slow breaths. This practice can help bring more clarity and understanding to your purpose, leaving you more empowered to take positive action. The Winter Solstice is a time to celebrate the return of the sun, give birth to our visions and name intentions-our conscious dreams, which will grow with the increasing light. The creative energy is flowing through you and is ready to bring your desires into fruition. As we take a moment to look back on our journey since summer we give thanks for all that we have completed and the experience and understanding we have have gained which informs our wisdom today. During this time, and always, seek out fun experiences that bring you joy and relief. Relax and enjoy experiences at your own pace and by your own design. Whether that be decorating a tree, wrapping presents, lighting a candle, making an offering to your ancestors, or going on vacation, you are worth it. You deserve it!