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Winter Solstice and our Connection - Part 1
Blessed Solstice to All.

It seems very fitting, this winter solstice, to talk about our innate connection to life all around us which exists in spite of our incessant and constant attempts to disconnect from it.

A few days ago, I was reading this article about bacteria, and how they communicate and group together.

I shared this with a friend who fired back this great video about the same subject, in much more depth:

This is a very eye-opening video about our symbiosis with bacteria

The most obvious conclusion to draw from observations like this, is that all life is connected. However, this statement ("all life is connected") has become such a cliche, that it almost doesn't even mean anything to say it any more.

As always, I hate to just write without providing some functional exercise along with my words. In the spirit of that, there are many exercises that can help you appreciate the meaning of this connection. One of the simplest ones is to force yourself to do without. Of course (on the subject of bacteria) you can't force yourself to do without bacteria. If you actually could, you'd probably die in a few minutes (or less). What you can do is force yourself to live without other necessities for seconds to days.

For example, using water as the "element of denial": Force yourself to do without drinking or using water for as many hours as you can endure, then only allow yourself about a third of a cup at most. Preferably filtered water, preferably in a glass or ceramic container, not plastic. Once you allow yourself the small amount of water, don't just gulp it down, but sip it very slowly and feel the connection between what your body needs, and how this element is restoring the balance you must have to live. Do this exercise of sipping the water that you crave, while outside in a quiet, natural setting if possible. Experience the water as a part of the elements that all give you life. While doing this, you should also be able to much more fully experience the smell, taste and feel of the water.

The same can be done with food, sleep, shelter, warmth (fire), oxygen/air, and virtually any of the elements that we need in order to live. Of course, the further you push into your "discomfort zone" with whatever you are denying yourself, the more intense will be your experience of connection when you finally allow yourself to experience the element you need to survive. Many religions use fasting as a part of their worship, which I believe probably derives from this same exercise and concept. The Native American experience of vision quest is (among many other things) an exercise of this type as well: Connectedness to life through denying your body some element of that life that it must have, then slowly taking in that element in deepest appreciation and focused connectedness.

Appreciation of water as a source of life we must have
water source life
In conclusion on the topic of exercises, doing the simple "do without" exercise is a great way to begin to experience a connection to the earth and all that it provides in order to sustain our lives. This is a connection that is present at all times, yet we take it completely for granted. Even worse, we distract ourselves from even acknowledging that there is a connection at all.

Moving from a personal or micro level to a macro level, the most obvious connection to the earth, its patterns and its cycles falls on the days when it shifts its tilt toward the sun. For this reason historically, the winter and summer solstices were days of celebrating life and the earth, in societies that lived in much closer attunement to where life comes from than we do in our culture.

However now, instead of this being a time to attain any closeness to the earth, we have created a culture that completely denies and distracts us from that closeness - even more than we are normally distracted during the rest of the year (which is an amazing feat to top).

Find a quiet, peaceful spot to connect to nature
closeness to earth
My challenge to you, on or around this winter solstice, is to take 5 -10 minutes and go to a nice spot outdoors (back yard, park, etc) that is relatively quiet, private and peaceful. Do this regardless of the weather. Dress warmly enough to be able to stay warm for 5 -10 minutes. Unless you live under water in the North Sea, you should be easily able to achieve this level of warmth with clothing. :) Once you are at your spot, take a few minutes to stand there and appreciate the fact that there is clean air, clean water, healthy food, as well as materials to build and provide the energy it takes for you and your loved ones to stay warm and healthy. Inhale and exhale deeply, and imagine the air moving up, from deep within the earth, through the soles of your feet when you inhale, out the top of your head and into the sky. Then as you exhale, the air which fills your lungs and keeps you alive moves from the sky down through your body and back into the earth. Appreciate the fact - while breathing and sinking mentally into the earth - that we are here because of the plants that provide oxygen, the animals that provide food, the plants that provide shelter and the earth that provides energy. Make yourself focus only on this concentrated exercise of appreciation and put all the other distractions out of your mind for this measly 5 - 10 minutes. Give it all the focus you possibly can, while thanking the earth.