Today in the northern hemisphere, it's the winter solstice - the shortest day, the longest night. As I write it's just after 4pm: where I live, the sky is a milky gloom above muddy fields and a chalky blue, calm sea.
We are being enveloped in a velvety darkness which can be both of comfort and of a heaviness, resting upon the shoulders of those who feel its burden; or feeling wrapped in a blanket of peace and restfulness. Regardless of how you see it, the winter solstice offers us all the opportunity to go within ourselves and visit the shadows, to experience the darker side of ourselves. We can reflect on our year, looking at the difficulties we have faced, what we have learned from them, how we take these experiences forward in our lives. Then we can lighten those burdens by accepting those difficulties and learning to let go. Take some time to sit in silence, meditating on these, or by writing them down. When you do so, invite yourself to let go either by taking some deep, abdominal breaths to release tension in your body where you may have been holding on to stuff in your body and mind. You can either then visualise breathing out the tension and as you breathe in, taking in bright colours of light around your body; or burn your piece of paper. In both cases, sit with the intention of gratitude for the experiences you have faced and let go of the sense of difficulty.
If you've had your best year yet, and you have much to celebrate, sit in reflection and feel that pride and joy within you and around you. Share that light to cast away those shadows. You can embrace the other side of the solstice, the other half of our selves: summer solstice, for those in the southern hemisphere, who will be celebrating the longest day, tomorrow. Here in winter time, from tomorrow the days become longer, the nights become shorter. We can begin to look at what we can plant and grow in the coming months, to look forward to those vibrant days where the sunlight warms our bones and fills us with a different energy.This is a day for reflecting on the seeds sown, reaping rewards and the warmth and brilliance of the light, which helps us grow.
In either case, gratitude invites acceptance and offers happiness and satisfaction. As hard as it may be to do so, even a tiny glimmer of positivity can offer hope, not just for yourself, but to others.
Where we have hope, we can invite peace into our hearts, into our lives and can grow and share this with others. If we all do so, we have a chance to bring in Peace On Earth.
Nikki Harman is a mindfulness coach, Connected Kids™ tutor and trainer, and a registered nurse working within the NHS.