It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The hustle and bustle of holiday madness! A full schedule of parties! A million things to do: send the holiday cards, trim the tree (or three!), wrap and deliver gifts, wrestle with crazy holiday traffic…
Now…stop. Shhhhh. Can you hear it? The quiet contemplation of the winter season.
The shorter days give way to darkness and candlelit quiet. The trees are bare, the ground is cold and dry. Everything is asleep, resting so that it can all reawaken and be reborn in the spring. We run ourselves ten kinds of holiday cookie-stuffed tinsel-decked ragged at exactly the time of year that nature is calling us to be still and listen.
Shiva linga mudra is a wonderful practice for this time of year. Bringing breath and awareness to this very potent hand mudra can calm your nervous system and gently encourage healing by opening channels for the flow of prana (energy).
Shiva is the god of destruction. The destructive power of Shiva is needed to help make space for new beginnings, just as the cold barrenness of winter is needed to give the seeds and roots buried deep underneath the earth the chance to rest well and begin their journey toward new growth in the spring. Or, if you prefer the language of Advent: now, we wait.
To harness this healing power, simply hold the left hand at the abdomen, fingers together, forming a cupped shape upward. With the right hand, make a fist and place it into the cupped left hand, thumb pointing upwards. Close your eyes and meditate, imagining that your left hand contains all that needs healing, and the right hand is destroying it, grinding it into dirt to make room for vibrant, healthy new growth.
I like to practice alternate nostril (nadi shodhana) breathing after this meditation, just to continue to balance the breath. It’s very calming, perfect for the quiet, dark energy of winter.
I wish all of you a very happy holiday season, full of fun and light and magic! But I hope you’ll also make room for a different kind of magic: the dark, cold, quiet of winter, a very beautiful and necessary part of the cycle of all life.