Winter Solstice is a natural time for contemplation and reflection. It’s a more powerful transition than the flip of the calendar year. For months, the days become shorter. Darkness descends as an invitation to rest and nourish. The primal parts of us lean into hibernation. We stock our pantries, make soup, wrap in blankets, and get more sleep. We slow the pace and turn inward.
Recently, I perused old journals. It was painful to read the vicious words I wrote about myself. Pages and pages of self-judgment (at times, self-hatred) followed by pages of halfhearted self-encouragement, all of this on a repetitive loop. I longed for something different yet wasn't sure how to proceed. In the 20 years since those journal entries, I became unstuck, moving from self-hatred to self-compassion.
I first heard the "Chant of Good Will" at a meditation retreat. Each night, a hundred of us chanted the loving-kindness phrases. The simplicity and repetition of these words allowed me to quickly take them into my heart. The practice came home with me. I sing the chant while driving, doing household chores, or setting up chairs for meditation class. And if I'm feeling frustrated or judgmental, I chant. It brings me back to love and intention.
The past few weeks, I've been focused and productive: revamping my website, finishing a new e-course, and teaching mindfulness workshops. Amid abundant yet busy days, I recognize my need to pause; to take a break; to gain a fresh perspective. When I don't pause—when I try to push through and work harder—my creativity wilts, my writing weakens, and my ideas stall.