Approaching the Solstice – Shining the Light Within
Today’s post is from 8 Shields mentor Josh Lane, author of the best-selling meditation book, Conscious Nature: The Art and Neuroscience of Meditating In Nature.
Entering the Quiet
At this time in the Northern hemisphere, daylight is increasingly fleeting. Nights are reaching their longest stretches, and we move towards the shortest day of the year. Amidst the snow and ice coating the ground around my home, the animals move hesitantly and with caution.
The forest is quiet now, except for the periodic calls of the avian foraging flocks. In these festive groups, a handful of over-wintering bird species band together to rove the landscape, gleaning fruit remnants of rose, bittersweet, and any other tidbits of protein or sugar they can find. Their sporadic appearance lends an active voice to an otherwise demur, silent time.
Attuning to the Nature of the Season
Each species has its way of flowing through this ebb-point of the year. Some animals, like the chipmunk and groundhog, have gone underground to wait out the cold of the season, leaving only frozen breath-vapor at their tunnel entrance-ways to mark their presence.
Meanwhile, squirrels travel from cache to cache, explosively digging through the snow to get by on their buried acorns and other nuts. Their trails and digs cover my yard, leaving clues to each day’s meal cycle.
Many of the mammals face the cold by gradually burning off the extra body mass accrued during the autumn preparation, a preparatory supplement to whatever each day’s winter foraging provides.
During periods of heavier snowfall, a whole world of activity develops beneath the snow. In the subnivean layer between the snow and the soil, small mammals tunnel in search of food on the frozen surface of the ground, making their rounds under protection of the snow’s insulative blanket.
Turning Within - New Year’s Resolutions 2.0
As each animal has it’s way of relating to the season, we may pause to consider our own relationship to this phase of the natural cycle of the year. Amidst the cold and dark, it is an instinctive time to huddle by the fire of the hearth, retiring into dreams of what was and what may yet come to be. As the trees have sent their energy deep into their roots, recouping and regathering for the next year’s growth, we can benefit from an intentional regathering of our own year’s learnings and accomplishments. A simple approach is to ask three questions:
What were the big markers and achievements in my life from this past year that I am thankful for?
Whether the year’s moments were joyous and flowing -- or challengingly growth-oriented -- making space to gather the pieces together is a helpful way to bring the year’s learnings into present-time. Often seemingly disparate moments synthesize into a whole, as larger threads of meaning appear in retrospect. Moments that may have been difficult at the time may carry powerful wisdom that informs your future action.
Dig into the big markers of your year and find the gifts hidden there. When the gift is recognized, it’s easier to look back with gratitude at life’s lessons. This momentum of feeling then carries the habit of gratitude forward.
How did I grow and step into more of myself and my creative potential in this last year?
Now that you’ve identified the big markers of growth, achievement, and celebration from the last year, let’s dig a bit deeper. What qualities inside yourself -- or what help around you -- allowed you to flow through these moments?
When you ask “How did I do this?”, the process of change reveals itself. Inner resources and outer support networks come into view that may otherwise be easy to gloss over. Make some space to recognize and celebrate all the help you’ve had from within or around you. Feel this help moving forward with you into the new year.
What’s stirring within me that wants to be expressed in this new year?
As you review and gather your inner resources, and track the patterns of accomplishment and growth in your life, you are stirring the creative well bubbling in your soul’s depths. Sense forward into the seasons ahead. Note any dreams, visions, or inklings of what you feel inspired to help create and experience in the next year or beyond. Put these ideas to paper to help incubate them with your attention.
Relaxing Into Stillness & the Light Within
Most of all, as you match the stillness of the season, you’ll discover the still space within yourself. This is the place of pure creativity and potentiality that is ever present in the motion of daily life. The stillness of the season provides a natural window into this vast inner realm.
Turn within for a few moments each day when you awaken, and again before you retire to bed each night. Simply relax into the stillness, and revel in the peace, held by the quiet. There in this place of still repose, discover the light within that is your core. In silent communion, may you discover a renewal of your creative flow that guides your forward, attuned to the Nature within and around you.
Deepen Your Journey Into Nature
Discover more practices for connecting to the Nature within and around you in Josh’s book, Conscious Nature: The Art and Neuroscience of Meditating in Nature
About Josh Lane
Author of the book, Conscious Nature: The Art & Neuroscience of Meditating in Nature, Josh has mentored and trained people of all ages around the world for the past twenty years in the inner and outer arts of mindful, whole-being connection with Nature. He is frequently seen practicing Tai Chi Ch'uan or playing various random stringed instruments, sleuthing forest mysteries, and generally mucking about on a little-known fringe planet called Earth, located somewhere in the western spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Bringing forward a depth of experience from his journeys in the realms of ancient Earth connection skills, Qi Gong, and meditation, Josh’s vision is to help bridge the healing power of Nature into the modern experience, enlivening creativity and well-being through a conscious, primal connection with the Earth.