Winter Solstice is my favorite day of the year.
It is the shortest day of the year, often filled with dark, crisp wonder. It is the turning point when the light of the Sun begins its return to fullness. At the Solstice I often gather with friends, light candles, do simple rituals and sing out in the stillness. There is a depth to this time of the year that seems to give every word, image, and action deep meaning and significance.
At the Solstice, we complete one cycle and are given an opportunity to consciously begin anew. During the Winter Solstice, as well as the days before and after, inner silence often comes more easily than at other times of the year. Some years I bask in the silence. Other years inner silence remains elusive, more like a faint whisper than true silence.
This year the deep silence of Solstice came early and decided to stay a while.
Two weeks ago, I heard a snow storm would soon arrive in my hometown in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This is my first winter in this quaint town among the evergreens. Being born and raised in Southern California, I have lived most of my life close to the Pacific Ocean. A full blown snow storm would be a totally new experience. As soon as I heard about the storm, I drove around town, bought chains for my tires, stocked up on groceries and water, and even bought an oil lantern in case the power went out. I asked a friend to wrap my pipes and I pulled out my warmest clothes. By the end of the day I felt like I was ready for anything. Bring on the snow!
Around dusk the next afternoon, white flakes began to fall silently from the sky. As I watched the powdery snow cover my yard, I felt absolutely giddy. I sat mesmerized for hours, basking in delight as my deck and the garden beyond were completely cover in white. Late in the night I finally turned out the lights and went to bed feeling more peaceful than I had in months.
The magic continued the next morning as more snow fell until everything was covered with sparkly white snow. That afternoon when the snow stopped falling, I ventured out for a walk with my dog, Bosco. As we walked across the meadow and down towards the creek that flows through my back yard, I was immediately enveloped in awe and wonder at the utter silence.
I had never before experienced such profound and extended inner and outer silence.
The euphoria induced by this white powder was like none other. Paradoxically, in this profound silence, it felt like every part of my being, and every other being in my sphere, was humming this peaceful message in unison, "all is well".
In the midst of this powdery white stillness I touched something so deep and pure it could not be denied, discounted, or lightly skipped over. I touched upon the deep silence of my essence.
Touching this deep presence is always possible, yet in my experience it is more likely to happen during the days around the Winter Solstice. In the doorway between seasons, between light and dark, past and present, the old and the new; fresh possibilities to experience that which transcends all duality quite naturally emerge.
Unfortunately, in the busyness of the holiday season we sometimes miss the silence and the accompanying "all is well" choir sweetly humming within and around us. Yet these experiences of "silent humming" strengthen us for what lies ahead. Those moments of silence in the snow left me knowing anything is possible. Literally.
Over the next few days, I invite you to be on the look out for those moments of "silent humming", and to bask in them. These experiences of deep presence often sneak up on us when we least expect them.
May these precious moments be a delightful reminder that even though the Sun waxes and wanes, there is a deep radiant within you that ALWAYS SHINES.
Shining Big Love,
To read about how to make the most of this time of year, click here.
As promised, I am sending you messages of love this holiday season. The first one I sent, 360 Degrees of Love, struck a cord with so many people.
Today, I offer you an opportunity to be steeped in a vast love that transcends time and space and the sometimes narrow confines of how we often conceive of love.
This video is short, intense and amazing. It left me speechless and unsettled in a way that only deep truth can do. It shouts of 360 degree love; of a love shared by two that is so big it blesses the entire universe.
If you have ever loved... watch it.
If you have ever lost someone you love... watch it.
If you have ever yearned to define or touch Spirit... watch it.
With bright starry love,
This has been an amazing week, filled with many different experiences; with great highs and lows. Tonight I feel compelled to share my Thanksgiving experience with you.
I opted to stay home last week rather than travel. On Thanksgiving Day I feasted with dear friends, had Face time gatherings with family members who were miles away, and joyfully communed with the magnificent evergreens in my neighborhood. It was all rich and deeply satisfying. Gratitude pulsed through me, getting stronger as the day unfolded.
Feeling full and warm all over, that evening I snuggled down to watch a DVD with a Native American theme, thinking this would be fitting for Thanksgiving night viewing. After a few minutes of watching I was quickly carried away by the beauty and peacefulness of the native way of life so beautifully portrayed. The characters soon made their way into my grateful heart. All was well until the tribe was suddenly brutally slaughtered. I felt shock go through my entire being. It was all so wrong! Sobs wracked my body as I continued to watch and grieve.
I gently reminded myself that the Natives Americans were simply actors who hadn’t really been slaughtered, yet this theme was hitting too close to home. Last year, my beloved partner suddenly passed away. Since then, I have deeply grieved. Several months ago the oppressive sadness began to lift as gratitude and acceptance settled into my heart and mind.
Suddenly there I was in full blown grief again, dealing with it all alone on a holiday. As hard as it was to feel this depth of pain yet again, I knew this was right where I needed to be. I had come a long way, yet there was more grieving to do. Amidst the sadness, overwhelming waves of love for my beloved partner engulfed me. These were intense moments of feeling both the depth and height of human love all at once. Love and loss, all in one breath.
As I sobbed and breathed, I remembered an experience that happen shortly after my beloved died. In the weeks following his death, I felt overwhelming love for him, sometimes even more powerfully then I felt when he was alive. I often felt his presence encircling and comforting me. At times I could hear and feel him communicating from afar.
On one particularly hard afternoon I felt so much love for him I thought my heart would burst. Although I believe he received my love on some level, it felt like my intense love didn’t have a place to land. I was silently asking about what to do with all these feelings when I heard my beloved’s voice say, “Let go of the “you” in “I love you”. Live in “I love”.
As I heard these words I felt like a lightening bolt went right through me. I knew exactly what he meant. Living in “I love” meant letting go of my narrow focus on him, a singular object of love, and instead, expanding to love all. Of course! Instead of focussing my love on my partner like a magnifying glass, I was to be a vibrant ball of love radiating in all directions. He was calling me to be a vibrant sun, shining upon all life within and around me, shining 360 degrees of love!
My crying stopped and I began to get excited about living 360 degrees of love more fully than ever. As I paused and breathed, I also understood a deeper meaning to his words of wisdom. “I love” was not just about love as an expansive way of being. Living as “I love” was about more fully identifying as love, as in “I am love”.
To live fully in that mode would demand letting go of my illusions about who I think I am, which all negate my identity as pure love. All of the moments when I think I am: a woman, a therapist, a coach, a mother, a lover, an American, aging, sad, angry, and on and on, negate the truth that I am essentially love.
I am love, temporarily manifesting as a woman, a mother, a therapist, and so forth.
On Thanksgiving night, as I remembered this experience from months before, I was filled again with gratitude and peace. In this moment of sacred remembrance, I felt love flowing more freely within and around me. This expansive awareness was yet another precious parting gift from my beloved.
If you are on the path of growth and awakening, the idea of being love is definitely not new. Maybe is isn’t even very interesting any more. We aren’t often interested in the ideas we think we already know about.
Yet I believe there is no more noble or worthy pursuit than living and embodying 360 degrees of love.
Understanding this idea is very different from actualizing it as a way of life. We embrace the ways of love and then we forget them, again and again. I have dedicated myself to the embodiment of love; to living 360 degrees of love as fully as I am capable. Maybe you have done so as well. If not, I invite you to join me.
This is a group effort that cannot be done alone. As each of us endeavors to shine love into all the dark places within and arounds us, we spark each other in ways unimaginable.
I feel compelled to share my journey of embodied love, as well as tools and practices to inspire our collective radiance, which is what “I love” is really all about. This season of gratitude and giving is an ideal time to go deeper into living 360 degrees of love. In the coming weeks I’ll be sending you “gifts” to spark the embodiment of love. I invite you to savor these gifts and freely pass them on.
I also invite you to send me your stories and insights about living 360 degrees of love. I’ll be passing on the juiciest ones.
I believe that we all made a commitment to live 360 degrees of love when we came into these physical bodies. Yet it is so easy to forget this sacred promise. During this holiday season, let’s gently, lovingly remind each other of what we are really here for…. to live 360 degrees of love!
An energy therapist, relationship and spiritual life coach, Ariana is a lover of love in all of its many delicious forms; self love, couples love, family love, community love and ultimately, the universal love that pervades all.