Winter Solstice 2017
Writing about the winter solstice, I sit beneath a new moon - the time to plant a seed and otherwise set intentions. In a way the winter solstice is like the new moon to the second (or third) power: The longest night of the year is time to hibernate and also to rejoice that we know the sun will come back, every day after this gets a little bit longer. We evaluate the past year, plan for the next year, and most of all celebrate our gratitude for our experiences and our opportunities.
Between the new moon and winter solstice, in close aspect to both the sun, the moon and the galactic center, is Saturn's transition into Capricorn. It's a critical time to consider what transpired as Saturn passed through Sagittarius, and consider how best to work with the energy of Saturn in Capricorn, its 'home sign' and a signal of building foundations, making plans, and creating good habits, in order to go forward in service to humanity and the planet.
Let's face it some crazy stuff has been happening in the world. I don't think the best way to make sense of it is to watch more news. As an alternative, I have been listening to and reading some fascinating information about the human brain.
Did you know that only 15 years ago, scientists were unsure we would ever really be able to study our brains-just like we never saw ourselves until mirrors were invented, some doubted we could get the perspective to really study our brains. Of course, until we had our phones, we did not really take pictures of ourselves, either.
I realized that kind of physical perspective that science requires is a parallel to the perspective that I have gained from my meditation practice. As I sit every morning (and sometimes in the afternoon) with my thoughts, I working to separate myself from the constant stream of reactions and distractions and begin to understand that they're not me. Then I can start to examine them and objectively contemplate where in the cosmos they are coming from. It's nothing that I could (or would!) post on instagram, but a #brainselfie is invaluable when you need to figure out what is really going on.
So I have decided that it is my intention to spend the next few weeks and months months just gathering information about my own brain-where are these thoughts coming from? Are my responses based on reality or just habit? How might I get to the root of any detrimental thought patterns so that I can rip those out and plant a new seed of positivity, compassion, and higher awareness? The first step in a solid foundation is to assess and prepare the ground. Meditate. Take a 'before' #brainselfie each morning, then contemplate in the evening how you were able to gain a new perspective at work, in traffic, or with your family. The first step in altering a behavior is to simply recognize it.
At the top of my list for Santa is one of the amazing pieces from Greg Dunn, an artist and neuroscientist who worked with an artist and physicist to create an amazing micro-etching technique in order to depict the brain and its many different functions. It's fascinating and beautiful to see a brain in this way!
The Brain that Changes itself by Norman Doidge is a fascinating account of studies in neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to reprogram and remodel itself. While neuroscientists have certainly demonstrated that certain brain functions are handled by specific parts of the brain, it also appears that the brain can self-repair and re-learn functions or possibly an entirely different part will take on the responsibilities of another zon'e
I loved to this Ted Radio Hour podcast about the brain (check it out!)