12/21/2014

Celebrate the Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice Celebration

The Winter Solstice is one my my favorite times of the year. It is the start of the solar year and is a celebration of light and rebirth of the Sun. The word ‘solstice’ originates from the Latin words sol, sun and sistere, to stand still. On this day the sun reaches its most southern point and then reverses direction. The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year and is a wonderful reminder of the seasonal changes in the universe and in our lives.

One of the reasons I enjoy eating seasonally is because it helps me commune with Mother Nature. Enjoying foods that are in season allows me to tune in on a cellular level to the subtleties of our ever changing environment. In Los Angeles the seasons do not change as dramatically as they do in other cities I have lived in. Paying attention to the slight variations in produce at different times of year helps me observe the subtle changes in my own life.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know I am a highly sensitive person. This is something I have been learning to embrace a great deal over these last years. It has been a challenging journey but one that has brought about self confidence and level of openness that I’ve longed for much of my life. This sensitivity has been a gift when it comes to connecting to Mother Nature. When I exchange with her wisdom on a regular basis my loneliness fades away and I plug into a power so much greater than myself.

As a  creative person I enjoy spending time in darkness. I have been a night owl most of my life but thankfully I have trained myself to go to bed earlier on most nights! This winter I have made it a point to be in bed before 9pm, watch very little TV shows, and journal every night. I’ve been tuning in to my creative spirit and how much she wakes up in the winter darkness. I tend to get the majority of my best creative ideas in the winter or in the evenings.

This season is all about feminine energy. In the Traditional Chinese Medical system winter is yin which represents darkness, feminine, inward moving, and slow energy. Yin also represents the night which could explain why most of my female friends feel their creativity at night and even more so in the winter.

Celebrating the Winter Solstice is about honoring the darkness and all that she awakens in us and beginning to shift our focus to the birth of the sun. The sun is yang and represents light, action, masculine, and outward moving energy. The new sun gives us the energy to follow through with the visions we create in the darkness of winter. I love following this cyclical change because I think many of us feel a burst of energy in the New Year and that desire to expand and grow.

I like to create simple rituals to honor these new beginnings in our cosmos and in myself. Last Winter Solstice Jason and I spent an hour writing out our impressions of the past year which brought clarity to how we wanted to engage with 2014. This year we continued with that tradition and added a few more elements. Below I shared our rituals in the hopes of inspiring you to create some of your own. The beauty of these practices is that they can be personalized to your lifestyle. You have the freedom to create and share in whatever ways resonate with you the most.

Winter Solstice Celebration

Commune with Mother Nature
One of the most basic ways to commune with Mother Nature is to simply pay attention. Go for a walk and notice the colors, the light, and the wind on your face. Noticing how everything this time of year sounds quieter and things feel slower. Go for a walk on your favorite trail. Visit the ocean. See what you can discover just on your own block. By bringing our attention to the present moment we will commune with Mother Nature in new ways and feel more connected to ourselves.

Winter Solstice Celebration

Share a Seasonal Meal
Seasonal eating is a wonderful way to observe the solstice and nourish loved ones. Prepare a simple meal that represents the return of the harvest and is a gesture of your commitment to wellbeing. Hop over to the recipe box and pick something out that looks good to you. To honor this solstice we will be drinking a bright juice and enjoying an aromatic soup.

Winter Solstice Celebration

Meditate in Darkness
This is a powerful practice. Choose the darkest room in your home. Use sheets to block out light to make it as dark as possible. Have a candle or two and matches close by. Begin the meditation with a deep exhale and closed eyes. Breathe gently in and our through your nose. Allow yourself to settle in and eventually expand out. Keep your mind clear and when it trails off in thought, bring it back to focusing on your breath without judgement. Meditate for as long as you wish and then light a candle or two. As you light the candle welcome in the Sun and say a prayer for the darkness and the light.

Winter Solstice Celebration

Call In Your Desires
Every time we speak we have an opportunity to affirm the life we desire. We can choose words that lift us up, drag us down, or keep us from moving forward. Have you ever noticed that the more you complain, the more there is to complain about? Or what about when you are in conversation and the person across from you spouts off one negative comment after the next, how does that make you feel?

All of the words that we speak carry their own energy. The more we use specific words the more energy and power we give them. When we engage in honest speech that lifts us up, we lift up the people around us and are able to manifest what is on our hearts. This practice is not about ignoring sadness or challenging times, it is about acknowledging our true feelings and creating a different conversation around them. It is possible to go through tremendous heartache and loss and still call in what we desire.

During this solstice set aside some time to think about what you want to call in for this coming year and say it out loud. If you can speak before a witness that is even more powerful. Keep this intention close to your heart and call it in as often as you like.

Winter Solstice Celebration

Sun Salutations
On the day following the Solstice I like to jump into my yoga practice with simple sun salutations. What I love about the Surya Namaskar sequences is that they represent making your body (life) and offering to the Sun. Surya Namaskar is such a beautiful set of poses and can be easily modified for your level of practice.

This is a wonderful rendition of a Hindu prayer to the sun god Surya. I like to chant along after my practice as a way to open my heart and connect on a deeper level to the practice. You could even skip the poses and just chant!

 

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How are you celebrating the Winter Solstice? Have you created any new rituals this year? I’d love to know. Wishing you a beautiful holiday and sending lots of love.

And if you’re in L.A. my dear friend Lauren is having her Breathwork group tonight and it’s going to be epic!

xoa

Comments

  • lauren

    looooove all of these ideas! especially the SUN SALUTATIONS!
    going to do some now – in honor and gratitude for the Sun (and also it’s counterpoint, the dark)

    thank you also for including me in your post!!!
    you are so generous
    love to you on this special day, sweet friend
    L
    x

    • ashley

      I am so glad you enjoyed this song! I’m going to see if I can get the mp3 version somewhere!
      Thanks for being such an amazing woman Lauren! I adore you.
      xoa

  • Corina

    What a wonderful post again, Ashley! With all the xmas planning I almost forgot about the solstice and full moon. But I noticed some changes regarding mind, body and soul and then I went writing down my intensions, hopes and wishes for the next year in the very early morning. Morning hours are my fav time of the day and I love spending them all by myself and surrounded by nature. Sometimes it’s fun how people react cause they think it’s boring or they cannot understand that nature sometimes is all what I need when walking with me and I am like “oh look at these green trees or can you see that bird, or can you wait, I need to pick up this stone cause it’s so so beautiful and fits perfectly into my collection!’ ;-) Plus, I spent the evening with two of my closest friends which are artists and I unfortunately see only a few times per year. But we had so much fun and inspiring topics to talk about, what was very uplifting as well! So I am thinking about making this a ritual. But for the actual solstice rituals this year I was thinking to give myself some more days cause I am having a hard time of letting certain things/people go and feel like I first need to finish that. But then… ;-) I already visiualized how my life would look like and I cannot wait to work on that! But first: Merry Christmas! :-)

    • ashley

      Hello dear Cornia. I always love reading your thoughts. I relate to walking around your neighborhood and being inspired by nature. It really is those simple things that matter most. It makes me happy to imagine you with your close friends, sharing ideas and speaking to each other from the heart. I have friends I love dearly that I don’t get to see that often and I cherish our time together too. It is healing to spend time with them. That sounds like an amazing ritual! You can take as many days as you need to. The beauty of the winter solstice is it comes at the end of the calendar year and you can extend the practices until the New Year. I’ve got a few things I want to wrap up before the end of the year as well and I look forward to it. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and thank for all of your love!! xoa

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