Many of us have waited with eagerness the end of 2020 and the advent of 2021. While it’s tempting to greet this new year with popping corks and declarations of “new year, new me!” after arguably the roughest year on the collective in my lifetime, my preference is to use this flip in the Gregorian calendar as an opportunity to listen before I leap.
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. 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.
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 new year, 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.