A Winter Solstice Retreat
It’s December: the Energy of Forest and Garden is low in the roots and receding. Days are short in the northern hemisphere, and getting shorter, as Sun approaches its nadir. The air is cold: Maple and Alder bare; grey light replacing leaves—Cedar, Hemlock and Fir are Winter’s green. As we approach Winter Solstice.
This darkest time of year is why we have the tradition of lighting things up for the Holidays … an innate celebration of the ‘rebirthing of the Light’ … religiously and naturally …
The Ways of Winter
Winter Solstice … the seasonal equivalent of ‘… the darkest hour … before the dawn’ is the perfect time to become more aware of the aspects of oneself—stillness, quiet, reflection, insight—that are very low on the list on a bright, warm, summer day.
Summer is the time for going out, Winter for going in. And while we need and want to live and enjoy our lives in both dimensions, it’s important to understand the wisdom that tells us: There’s “… a time to rend, and a time to sow; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak …”
Winter Solstice Retreat at BIOM
Every year at BIOM we do a Winter Solstice retreat. We take a day off from work, chores and Internet-ing and spend the day slowing down. We walk in the woods and listen to ‘the sounds of silence’; meditate and practice Chi Kung and Tai Chi; read and write; cook and eat slowly; talk and imagine …
It’s a day to retreat from the hustle-n-bustle of the 21st century lifestyle. An opportunity to rest and reconnect with the quiet side of ourselves—the part that gets ignored and pushed aside in the hurly-burly of earning a living and going after the next thing on the list.
Planning A Winter Solstice Retreat
If you’re interested in a Winter Solstice retreat experience, here are some ideas for getting started:
• Imagine what a successful retreat experience would be for you. Take some notes. Set aside some books. Restring your guitar. Start to gather the ‘kindling’ that will ignite the experience you want to have.
• If you hear yourself saying, “I can’t do this at my house.”; ask yourself: “What can I do to get as close as I can to creating a space at home to retreat into?” Then think of a few things you would like to do if you had a quiet day, or several hours all to yourself. Write those ideas down and look at them for a minute or two each day. Add new ideas as they emerge.
• Ask yourself: “What do I need to do to create the space—in my house, in my schedule, in my mind—so that I can have an enjoyable and beneficial one-day or half-day retreat with myself.
• Remind yourself that whatever effort you make to gain some quiet time for yourself will be worthwhile. Your mental ‘chitter-chatter’ may be envisioning a made-for-reality-TV retreat, and if it does, tell that ‘voice’ to be quiet; a good practice for when your Winter (Solstice) Retreat begins ...
Tweets for a Winter Solstice Retreat
• Winter is a natural time to retreat; the energy in the northern hemisphere is at maximum Yin—a time of dark, cold, stillness and quiet.
• Winter Solstice is Nature in full retreat ... at the same time we’re going full-speed-ahead for the Holidays—tap the retreat reset button…
• To ‘retreat’ doesn’t have to mean doing something ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious.’ Retreat to do something you enjoy.
• A personal retreat: An opportunity to become aware of & feel the quiet place inside yourself ... where everything feels in order.
• Why retreat? ... Because we are so busy most of the time it’s easy to miss Life’s central experience: our capability to feel peace and joy.
• There are all kinds of things going on that affect mental & physical health and well-being. A personal retreat can bring clarity & focus.
• A Winter Solstice Retreat: ‘Stepping back’ makes room for something beneficial to come forward.
• A little bit of retreat preparation will get everything in place for you to have the experience you want.
• The moment you start planning your retreat, visualizing what the experience could be like ... that’s the moment your retreat begins.
• A feeling of gratitude arises when you retreat: It’s you thanking you for taking care of yourself.
• Once you begin a retreat it may feel a bit uncomfortable at first. The momentum of today’s lifestyle takes a while to slow down and unwind.
• A personal retreat is worthwhile. When the chitter-chatter voice tells you there are better things to do—ignore it: A good skill to develop.
• It’s the shortest day of the year—Winter Solstice: Dark, Quiet & Still are the qualities of the energy that surrounds us.
• Winter Solstice is a time to become aware of and feel the dark, still aspects of your Self that come into focus at the beginning of Winter.
• Bear hibernates; Tree gathers energy in roots. Get in sync with Winter energy by ‘sinking’ into the deeper parts of yourself.
• “Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it ... Being alive is the meaning.”– Joseph Campbell