Winter Solstice A Time to go Within
By Art Ramsay, Ph.D.

 For thousands of years the ancient people of this planet have watched the stars and planetary movements. They have given us much regarding these phenomena writings, stories, events, calendars, and celebrations. Many religions have used pagan celebrations and called them their own, but some survive. Four such celebrations occur when the earth reaches a certain position relative to the sun. They are the Vernal Equinox, the Summer Solstice, the Autumnal Equinox, and the Winter Solstice.

 These alignments affect the earth's magnetic field, each in its own way. The ancients recognized this change occurring four times a year and celebrated how it affected their lives. Whether they were about to enjoy the spring planting, summer fun, a fall harvest, or winter downtime, they paused to recognize that there was something greater orchestrating it all. For those of us who don't get carried away either by religious dogma or marketing fantasy, the beginning of winter has its own message.

 As we watch squirrels gather their acorns and other animals seeking refuge for the winter, we sense that it is time to 'lay low' for awhile. Although the media would have us believe that what winter is all about is getting sick, a.k.a., 'the flu season', it is really about slowing down. We metaphorically get that message when ice and snow fills the highways, or our kids stay home with a 'cold'. Sometimes, if we don't get the message Spirit is telling us, we subconsciously contact some kind of viral infection and lay in bed a couple of days. During our 'down time' we may experience a breakthrough of some challenge due to being open to our inner self.

 The beginning of winter, the Winter Solstice, is a starting point, a signal, to pay more attention to our inner sensations. The beginning of this season, more than any other, allows us time to go within. Granted there are the distractions such as gift shopping and parties, but mostly things seem to just get quieter. The nights are longer, the days are colder, and the desire to spend more time inside gives us the opportunity to do something different.

 As the 'holiday season' wanes, our distractions are diminished, and we can settle into winter's gift of silence. By 'silence' I mean what it feels like or sounds like walking across a snow-covered field verses walking in the same field another time of year. The trees are bare (except for conifers) and much of the land is barren. Most wildlife have 'gone inside' and are not seen or heard. We can get the signal that maybe it is time for us to go 'inside', too.

 What do I mean "go inside"? The Western society spends most its time going, doing, watching, being entertained, and all sorts of activities that could be categorized as physical or bodily. Many cultures in the East, however, lean more toward pursuits requiring silence, unhurriedness, and a more casual way of living. Going inside is paying more attention to your intuition, meditating in whatever form works for you, being still and 'listening' to your inner thoughts. I don't mean listening to your conscious thoughts, although that can be helpful, I am referring to that 'still, small voice' that comes through the silence.

 Meditation has long been the practice for many of 'going within. It is especially beneficial to those in the Western societies due to the fast-paced way Westerners live their lives. Slowing down is usually something most people in Western societies are reluctant to do. Meditation can be practiced in many ways listening to quiet music, sitting on the beach watching, listening to the waves, walking through woods, or sitting quietly and contemplating.

 There are a thousand ways to meditate, because its main purpose is to get quiet and let go of the craziness in your mind. It is only when your mind is quiet, when the many thoughts racing through it are stilled, that you can open to you 'higher power'. If you are ever going to start practicing meditation, the season of winter is a great time. Take in the energy of the Winter Solstice on December 21st or a few days before or after, and let it lift you into a moment of stillness.

 What will you do with that 'moment of stillness'? That is entirely up to you, but letting go of a stressful feeling or thought will open the door. The clearer, cleaner, and more focused your mind is, the more open you will be to your intuitive self. The more willing you are to trust what you sense as guidance from within.

 Once again let me define what I mean by 'within'. It has nothing to do with your body, so when I say 'go within' it is about your mind, not your body's brain; your mind. Many call it by different names; the life-force, breath of life, higher self, your soul. It doesn't matter what you call it because it cannot be named. It is the very essence of life and it instills its life as you, and me, and all that there is.

 As I sit here writing this article, this spiritual essence guides my words. Is what I am writing 100% this essence? No. If it were, a different message would most likely appear on this page. But while I write, I am open to a level of mind that I am not open to while doing other activities. Most writers experience this. That is why they are writers.

 We all experience different levels of mind throughout our daily lives. What I wanted to convey here is that the more open you are to your own spiritual essence, the better your life will become. You can turn a stress-filled day into a peaceful one merely by practicing the art of going within; if even for a moment. The more you practice, the more aware you become, and the happier and more peaceful life you will experience.


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