Up until a few days ago, I had no idea that the winter solstice was such a sacred, ceremonial, and anciently revered day. TBH, I've spent my life thinking that it's simply an aggressively cold day that's dark AF and makes me want to go to bed at 3:30 p.m. when the sun sets — but not this year, my friends. This year, on Dec. 21, I will personally be participating in a winter solstice cleansing ritual to clear my mind and balance my energy in preparation for the new year.
People around the world celebrate the winter solstice in so many ways, including watching the sunrise atop vast monuments and temples, gathering to honor and respect the shortest day of the year, and symbolically celebrating the significant shift in nature.
All of these traditions are totally unique to the respective cultures that practice them, but every celebration does have something in common. When you get right down to it, everyone is essentially seeking to center themselves and cleanse their spirits, rid themselves of old energy, and make room for new, good fortune that approaches with the rising winter sun.
You, too, can participate and usher in the winter solstice by partaking in a simple, yet effective solstice ritual. Follow these nine steps during this year's winter solstice to reset, refresh, and renew in preparation for 2018.
Start your ritual in a dim or darkened room (it'll be easy on the day of the year with the least amount of sunlight!), and light a candle to softly illuminate your space and focus your energy.
Make sure that your electronics are shut off or in a different room so that they don't distract you during your winter solstice reset.
Controlled, intentional breathing, otherwise known as pranayama exercises, ignite your inner life force and purify your bodily vessel.
Practice alternate nostril breathing, or nadi shodhana, to release toxins, expel negative energy, and rejuvenate your entire nervous system. Simply partaking in about five minutes of this breathing exercise will provide incredible stress-relieving effects to your body, both internally and externally.
There are so many different crystals you can choose from, depending on the healing properties you'd like to include within your solstice ritual. Each healing crystal has the ability to hold, amplify, and transmit energy, making them ideal vessels to rid yourself of negativity and stagnation.
Charge or program your crystals by holding them in your hand, close to your heart, and thinking about exactly what you'd like them to do for you.
Try reciting a mantra that means something to you, or say aloud the direction you'd like your gemstones to take, and be very clear about your intentions overall.
Sit in a comfortable seat with your crystals surrounding you, or lay on your back with the gemstones positioned on certain areas of your body (such as your third eye or heart space).
Whether you're doing a seated or reclined meditation, close your eyes and observe each of your thoughts without judgment as they float by in your mind. Meditate for at least five minutes, but feel free to extend the practice as long as you'd like.
When you've finished your meditation, begin cleansing your space of any negative energy that has cluttered it throughout 2017.
For this process, you can either light a stick of sage or palo santo. These are two ancient plant medicines that offer unique cleansing properties and are beneficial when you'd like to smudge your space and cultivate positivity.
If you opt to light a bundle of sage, you'll be accentuating your inner clarity and wisdom while simultaneously destroying any negative energy that surrounds you. On the other hand, lighting a stick of palo santo will ground you, cleanse your space, and bring upon good fortune for the new year. Either way, it's all about welcoming those good vibes and saying adios to the negative ones.
Once your room is completely purified and deeply cleansed, move onto literally cleansing your own body and encouraging new cell growth with the process of dry brushing.
Dry brushing detoxifies and rids your body of toxins, increases circulation, and energizes your entire being, allowing you to literally and figuratively shed your old skin and open yourself up to change.
After dry brushing, it's important to wash away the dead cells that you've eliminated with a warm, soothing shower.
Use gentle cleansers and invigorating scents, such as lemongrass or bergamot, to nourish your body and indulge in all the TLC.
Follow up your shower with some body oil or luscious moisturizer to give your skin some extra lovin'. Then apply an essential oil of your choice to the bottoms of your feet so that it can be optimally absorbed into your body and bloodstream.
Some amazing essential oil options could include lavender, peppermint oil, or rosemary for optimal renewal and mental rebirth.
Close your winter solstice ritual by releasing all of your thoughts about the cleansing process onto a piece of paper, where you can fully express yourself, and maybe even return to your musings next year.
Be honest and fully open with your intentions and dreams for 2018. As you close your journal, meditate for a moment on the closing of this chapter of your life and the start of something new.