This “stoppage” of the sun’s path has been observed by some ancient cultures and celebrated as a transition from death to rebirth, to which we are all connected. In modern times, it is sometimes used as an opportunity to look inside, reflect, express gratitude, exchange gifts, set intentions, and plan for the coming year.
There is a simple visualization practice that I have used over the years to connect to the spirit of the winter solstice. I learned it as a shamanic “journeying” exercise where one or two people would hold sacred space by drumming, rattling and “guiding” the journey while the rest of the group lay down on the floor with eyes closed to visualize the journey. This seems to work equally well as an individual mediation or a guided group meditation:
Imagine you are trekking for the first time in a foreign land. Your destination is a high mountain pass, which you must cross to get to the next valley. From a trail on the outskirts of a small village (I imagine a remote place in Tibet), you begin your ascent carrying a backpack filled with all of the things that you have accumulated over the past year during your travels. Those things might include your day-to-day necessities, some luxuries, the results of your karmas, your memories, habits and emotions, among other things. As you near the pass, the trail leads to a rope bridge that crosses a great chasm. It’s a precarious bridge, very unstable, and you realize that you will not be able to carry your heavy load with the balance and confidence you need to cross safely to the other side. So, you sit down to unpack and take an inventory of all of the pack’s contents. After considering each item carefully, you repack only those things that you need to get through the winter and those that will serve you on the other side. With a lightened load, you cross the bridge and make camp on the opposite side of the chasm. From there you can see into the next valley. It’s a place with exotic sights, sounds and smells; a place where new experiences, relationships and opportunities await.
I wish you well on your journey and hope that you will go lightly and with balance throughout the coming year. Namaste Rolf Lange