With the annual Winter Solstice falling on the same day as the full moon and lunar eclipse this year, I wanted to take a look at the traditional rituals of the Winter Solstice and create a practice of mindful meditation.
This Tuesday the Winter Solstice will coincide with the total lunar eclipse of the full moon. This is a rare event. The last two total lunar eclipses seen from Alaska were in 2004 and 2007. Depending on how clear the skies are this lunar eclipse may be visible. The next one will be in 2014. The Moon will be well within the Earth’s umbral shadow, in a total eclipse that will last over an hour.
The Winter Solstice marks the first day of Winter in the northern hemisphere and notes when the Sun is farthest south. It is a time when many feel the darkness of the days in their moods and energy levels as well as feel the strain of holiday stressors. To bring light and warmth back into your being, spend time with those you love, enjoy warm foods and stay physically active. There is a lesson is self-preservation, preparing for the coming Spring and persevering through challenging and stressful times. With the coming New Year it is also a time to look within, build inner strength and renew.
Eclipses are believed by many to be a time for great transformation through meditation. The lunar energies are magnified and more focused. Mindful meditation is a type of meditation that essentially involves focusing on your mind in the present moment. To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and actions in the present, without judging yourself. Allowing yourself this pause in reaction gives you a moment to observe yourself without judgement and eventually to change your habitual patterns of emotional reaction and behaviors.
1. Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff.
2. Try to put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present.
3. Become aware of your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.
4. Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, don’t ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.
5. If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and simply return to your breathing. Remember not to be hard on yourself if this happens.
6. As the time comes to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually.
“Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. Just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.”