|1||Start of Spring|
|Start of Summer|
|Start of Autumn|
|Start of Winter|
|Limit of Heat|
|3||Awakening of Insects|
|Grain in Ear|
|5||Clear and Bright|
At 11:27 AM EST on December 21st, 2017, the seasonal clock strikes midnight. The astronomical name for that event is the Winter Solstice which also happens to be the name of the upcoming seasonal phase.
Winter Solstice represents the time of the year when Yin, the receptive principle reaches its peak. Yin is associated with qualities such as inwardness, heaviness, depth, and darkness. Mind you, the darkness of Yin lacks the negative connotation that we tend to attribute to that quality. The darkness embodied by the solstice of winter is the darkness of peace, the welcoming absence of light that allows you to detach from your boss and your bills, sink into a soft pillow and experience the deep liberation of restful sleep.
Winter Solstice, the fourth phase of winter, represents the time of the year when the longest night is wedded to the shortest day. Darkness literally rules this time and the theme of this seasonal phase derives from realizing the virtue of darkness and by awakening the Winter Solstice within.
So what is the spiritual purpose of darkness and how does one embody peaceful darkness within? As a general rule, light extraverts. It draws the senses outwards. And darkness introverts by drawing the senses back in.
Reality feels vastly different from either end of this introversion-extraversion continuum. Engaging the outer world through our senses, we encounter shapes, sounds, tastes, and textures arising in countless ever-shifting forms that the mind names, categorizes, and organizes according to some belief or worldview. It is this accumulated collection of perceptions and conceptions that crystalizes the “real” world that feels solid and concrete.
But if you observe those same sensory experiences while rooted inwardly, the solidity unravels. As you disengage an object from your senses and contemplate it, it takes on the quality of an image arising in a dream. And if you sink deeper into yourself, even this image dissolves and fades until you experience a boundless emptiness that becomes increasingly palpable. The puzzle of Winter Solstice is solved when we realize that the solid forms that comprise reality arise from a mysterious formless emptiness.
Darkness is the guide that leads the mind to this realization. Or put another way, darkness is the teacher of the highest wisdom. We tend to associate wisdom with light. But just as movement arises from stillness, sound arises from silence, the light of the mind arises arises from the void.
Winter Solstice embodies the moment of maximum stillness, silence, and darkness, and the strong seasonal forces manifesting at this time facilitate the journey to the root of wisdom.
Now is a good time to meditate on the empty nature of existence. In a dark room at this dark time, contemplate the stories that define your existence. Gradually these stories will take on the appearance of an ephemeral dream images projected on the screen of awareness. Continue to observe those images and they will soften, melt, and dissolve. Then, dive deeper and realize that the screen of awareness is a canvass made of nothingness. Submerge awareness in total darkness. By doing so, you will embody the spirit of Winter Solstice and experience the peace of emptiness.
To facilitate this inner journey, I encourage you to practice the Winter Solstice Empowerment. The empowerment takes place on Thursday, December 21st between 11:27 AM EST and 1:27 PM EST just as the solstice begins (remember to adjust for the time difference if you live in another time zone).
Winter Solstice continues for fifteen days until Minor Cold, the fifth phase of winter, begins on Friday, January 5th at 4:48 AM EST. Until then, celebrate darkness, the mother of light.
The spine is made up of five segments including the coccyx, the lower back (sacral and lumbar spine), the middle and upper back (thoracic spine), and the neck (cervical spine).
The vertebra associated with this empowerment is Lumbar 5 (L5) in the lower back.
Lumbar 5 (L5) is the lowest vertebra of the spine and rests just above the sacrum. To locate L5, begin by identifying the iliac crest, the topmost part of your hips and trace a straight line to your spine. That vertebra is L4. One down is L5.
Find L5 now.