On December 21, the Northern Hemisphere experiences the Winter Solstice: the darkest day of the year. With so few hours of sunlight, there is a natural desire to slow down and move inward, and if we are not careful, a proclivity to despair.
There can be such a fine line between the darkness of the womb and the darkness of the tomb. The darkness of the womb feels reflective and serves as a place of incubation for the vision we wish to bring forth; whereas, the darkness of the tomb feels oppressive and is a place where fear and hopelessness reside.
While many variables play a part in the way we experience darkness, I want to tease out a couple of variables, which when taken into consideration, may offer a kinder, gentler experience of navigating the dark.
(These suggestions do not substitute for professional help. If you are experiencing despair, then please reach out to a mental health counselor, pastoral counselor or hotline.)
Variable #1: Gratitude.
When we make time to acknowledge and to appreciate what we do have, we are more likely to feel optimistic and empathic. We are more likely to experience improved physical and psychological health. We also are more likely to have closer relationships, which leads to the second variable. Read more on this.
Variable #2: A Sense of Belonging.
When we feel accepted by another, we cultivate a sense of belonging. Belonging to a group, no matter how small, makes us feel safe and secure. Finding people who accept us is part of the equation to belonging. The other part of the equation is shedding core beliefs which make us feel unworthy of belonging or make us think we must change who we are to belong. If you feel like you are always on the outside looking in, then you may be attempting to connect with the wrong group. You also may be focused on pleasing others rather than on discovering what pleases you.
Variable #3: Recognizing Change is a Part of Life.
When we fixate on the way things were or on the way things should be, we become rigid and frequently experience challenges. Learning to ride the waves of change help us to detach from the outcome, and instead, focus on how we want to respond to our experience. Detachment frees us from the tyranny of being in control (an illusion), and consequently, allows us to be more adaptable to the present moment.
Winter Solstice celebrations, no matter what the tradition, all have one theme in common: they all acknowledge the return of the light. They are celebrations of hope and faith. Hope that tomorrow will be a little brighter, and faith that the day after tomorrow will be a little brighter too.
May each one of us navigate the darkness of winter from a place of hope, connection, and gratitude.
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Five years later, Kim is still in the flow of supporting and building a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.