When days of winter are dark and gray and it is hard to stay outside for long, it is an opportunity to spend more quiet time in reflection and meditation.
The heart of winter in the northern hemisphere is nature's way of providing an opportunity for soul searching and getting to know about our permanent self more deeply.
Find a quiet place where you will be undisturbed for a time. One choice may be a corner of your bedroom with a small altar set up on a wall-mounted bookshelf - then you just need to set a cushion on the floor to have a suitable spot for your session.
You may wish to place some winter objects on your meditation shelf or altar, such as a candle sitting in a holly wreath, a vase of small pine boughs and burn some spicy incense.
The lit candle represents the eternal sunlight ever shining from your heart and soul over your life and your family, friends, community. This light of self-effulgent brightness is not dependent on anything of our earthly doing; it is our never-ending heritage stretching back and forth eternally.
The holly wreath with berries red shows us that even in the heart of winter nature provides life-giving sustenance to her creation. And the pine boughs, even seemingly cut from their source still emit the fresh scent that cleans the air and lifts drooping spirits. Spicy incense is invigorating.
To begin your meditation sit on your cushion or on a chair with your back straight but not strained. Fold your hands in your lap or place them face down on your thighs. Gently let your eyes close.
Start an even breathing pattern such as 2 counts to breathe in and 2 counts to breathe out. Continue counting this way for a minute then let go of thinking the numbers and just keep the rhythm.
Now think about what it means to you to have eternal roots - never-ending awareness and free will to act with kindness forever from your heart - your feelings. This is getting in touch with your permanent nature; getting to know and enjoy this deep self that can be reflected in all actions in practical ways through being caring and acting with kindness. With practice you will find it is the way to experience deep harmony - happiness.
Finish your meditation with a deep breath in and out, stretch, arise and go on with your day. If possible, take some time to write new insights in your journal for later review and further contemplation.
For offline reading
Meditation for Teens and Adults
More than 70 offerings, from guided meditation techniques to on-the-go stress relief and relationship meditations interspersed with verse, and a section of special occasion prayers. 114 pages.
Meditation for all Kids
Sitting, walking, dance and group circle meditations, along with positive affirmations, verses and benefits of meditation for kids of all ages and abilities in a 100 page book with illustrations.
Article by Susan Kramer; photo credit Stan Schaap - sheep in winter pasture