By most accounts, 2020 has been a dark year. No one expected to be hit by a once in a century pandemic for starters, and the effects of that have spiraled to dire consequences for many. On top of the grave health effects and loss off life, many have had to face financial worries. And most of us have been subjected to isolation at least on some level.
Speaking of darkness, today is the winter solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year, in terms of sunlight in the northern hemisphere. But just because we feel like we are in the depths of darkness does not mean there is not light to be found.
It is up to each of us to find what lights us up. In fact, it is our responsibility. The more light we can find in ourselves and our personal lives, the more light we can bring to the planet. Darkness spreads through fear but we can spread the light through love and tapping into our inner light.
So, what lights you up? What sparks your light? For some of us its our connection to loved ones, even if those relationships are currently tested by the required physical and social distancing. Those people are still just a phone call or zoom conference away. How fortunate are we that technology allows us face time with virtually anyone, if we choose to use it?
For some it is a hobby or activity you are passionate about. What makes you feel excited just thinking about it? Or is it a career that brings purpose to your life? Does nature light up your inner being when you take a walk? Do Christmas lights, or candlelight, bring a warm moment of joy that kindles a spark? Does making art or baking or preparing a fantastic meal bring out the creative part of your inner being? What about music? Singing, playing an instrument? Listening to it - Christmas music, classic rock, classical music?
For some of us, we might be in a place so dark that we don’t even want to look for the light, and that’s okay. We all need time to experience what we are feeling and to give validity to those feelings. Darkness can also be the perfect time to incubate the next idea or source of inspiration, like a seed planted in the soil, waiting to germinate, take root and emerge.
But when you get to the point when you are ready to find the light, there is one source that is always available to you. It is internal and intrinsic to all of humanity. It is always there whether you realize it or not. Just because we aren’t aware of it doesn’t mean it’s not there or that you can’t find it. The dark stillness of winter can be the perfect time to go within, to find the true source of the light.
All you have to do is get quiet and breathe. Breathe slowly and pay attention to each breath. Enjoy each inhalation as it fills your body. Visualize it bringing in the light and reaching the well-spring of your internal light. Feel relief and release as the used breath leaves your body and perhaps takes some pain or darkness with it. And just repeat the process for as short or long of a time as feels right. Make your breath your focus regularly – a few seconds throughout the day, a few minutes every morning, or perhaps as you drift off to sleep every night. In the calm of your breath, your light is there, waiting to be discovered.
As we embark upon this shortest, darkest day, we have an amazing alignment of planets to look forward to right after sunset this evening. There will be a rare Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn visible in the night sky that is popularly known as the Christmas Star, which hasn’t been seen for hundreds of years. It might be too cloudy to see this conjunction for some of us, but even if you can’t see it, the light is still there, much like our internal light is always there. Take comfort in remembering that after today, the days and the light will grow longer, giving us plenty of time to discover the inner light that we personally can bring to illuminate the world.