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Winter stillness, winter darkness

The winter solstice will occur soon, marking the beginning of astronomical winter. Solstice means ‘sun standing still’, and one of the ways I like to honour this time is by finding some stillness myself.

That doesn’t always mean sitting in stillness – I actually find it easier to attune to the deep quietness of the natural world in winter when I’m out walking. That’s when I can let that energy seep into my bones.

Or rather, let my body settle into the earth.

Of course this does require surrendering to the slowed-down flow of this energy. The darkness of December feels like a daily invitation to do less, to rest more. Like the hibernating animals, I’m nesting when I’m at home: hot cocoa, soft blankets, curling up, lying down.

And while there’s this part of me that embraces the darkness and stillness of winter, I’m also aware that another part of me is unsettled by it.

The coldest months would have been a challenging time for our ancestors. Perhaps that’s why we have developed the rituals of gathering together around fires and bright lights, for feasting and company. But for many of us in the modern world, this seems to bring an added complication in the form of pressure to experience the festivities in a particular way.

I’m learning, year by year, to find ways to celebrate the season that are personally meaningful and restorative. This sometimes means pulling in the opposite direction to the dominant cultural energy. It means giving myself permission to choose the amount of bright lights and company that feels good, and to allow the stillness and the darkness.

For me, the winter solstice is a place where we can inhabit that liminal space between the dark and the light, without having to pick one or the other.

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