Avebury standing stones for Charlotte Speller yoga blog

For someone who is driven, likes to achieve, learn new things and make stuff happen, November and December were difficult months…. until I tapped into the Winter Solstice.

At the beginning of November, I completely left the corporate world. I went from a very well-paid job,  to an exciting trip across india….  And then, the reality of life without the structured day job, or my ‘identity’ as VP Global Marketing left me confused. I found myself working all day and late into the night – helping out friends, rewriting my website, planning for yoga workshops and retreats in 2013, and I guess, stressing about what I thought I should be doing ‘now that I’m a yoga teacher’. Oh, and we decided to sell our house…

Frankly, I was doing exactly what I’ve always done – packing too much into the day, ploughing through without stopping and still running out of time! Then feeling bad about not achieving enough and neglecting, more often than not, the things that I really love to do. My own yoga practice for one! I’d gone into overdrive and not given myself any time to really take in the massive life changes I’d made.

The big shift

I’m a great believer that things happen for a reason and out of the blue, I got an invite to join a shamanic ceremony — I knew what I had to do…

21 December, 9:30am: I’ve done my yoga practice and I’m up and ready to head to Avebury — for ceremony. It was time to welcome the end of the Mayan calendar (not the end of the physical world!), and share some sacred space in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. I took my drum and my healing stones and off I went with my friends. Sounds a bit bonkers doesn’t it, and if you’d have asked me a few years ago, I probably would have agreed, but the fact is, I’ve always been drawn to Avebury – ever since I was a young girl. I grew up near there and apart from the obvious draw of the huge ancient standing stones, it felt good to be back. To stand on the land and soak up the atmosphere felt exactly right.

There were a couple of hundred people there. Just before 11am we all took our positions around the stones. Following my instinct, I stood with my friend on ‘portal’ side of the stones. Up on the bank. There we were, almost like guardians of the stones, of the land. The surroundings looked as wonderful as I remembered and for once the air was crisp and the sky blue. Yet, with all these people and the beauty around me, I felt strangely alone —vulnerable. Was everyone watching me? What was expected of me? Shouldn’t I be ‘doing’ something ‘spiritual’ here?…

As the whole group tuned in with a few OMs, I felt a shift inside. It was as if a weight had rolled off my shoulders, tears definitely rolled down my face! I had a vision of what I needed to let go of, and what I need more of in my life.

Quiet contemplation

On that bank, I was shaking off old habitual ways of dealing with situations. You know, like putting pressure on yourself to be a certain way, or be seen to be doing a certain thing. In that moment it was so refreshing to see people who really didn’t give a cr*p about any of that. They were just there to enjoy and go with the flow of the day. I finally let myself bob around to the sound of the drums around me, also not caring whether what I had offered up to the ceremony was right or wrong. As we walked around the outer edges of the stones, everything that had been confusing me — not having the old routine, the competitiveness of the corporate world, the perception I had of myself versus what I really am — got a lot clearer. It was as if the mirror that I’d been looking in was fogged up and I’d gotten a fresh cloth and wiped it clean.

Essentially, Winter Solstice is a time for going deeper inside. Gathering up everything that you learned throughout the year — and beyond. You take in the pleasurable stuff, and the stuff that maybe, at the time, peed you right off, but you take it all as fertiliser for things to come. It’s no coincidence that we make New Year’s resolutions in modern society at this time of year. That’s kind of what you’re you’re doing in Solstice. Luckily (in the UK, in any case) our nights are long, there’s natural darkness and it’s totally OK to get under the duvet, or sit cosily in front of the fire and select which seeds to sow for the year(s) ahead and discard the duds that are unlikely to bear fruit.

Powerful truth

For me, this Winter Solstice,  I looked candidly at that now sparkling reflection of myself. Without the snazzy job title that helped to define who I was for so many years, I had felt  lost. I’d also conveniently put myself inside the ‘a yoga teacher does this, this, and this’ box and slapped a honking great label on myself. Amazing how easy it is to do that — even when it’s the very thing you want to get away from. That’s not who I really am, and I needed time to cultivate the confidence just get on with life — according to Charlie Speller.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been quietly getting on with sifting through my seeds, reconnecting with who I really am and why the hell I did the ‘crazy’ thing of leaving the corporate world behind. It was to do something that I’m really passionate about, on my own terms and not to fit into a ‘box’.

So, I’ve made time for my own yoga practice, my husband and the people I love, and I’m not working all the hours of the day and night. Despite the driven, enthusiastic part of me that’s been dying to tell me how lazy I’ve been for the last couple of months — indulging in the odd lie-in, not frantically packing every minute of every day with ‘stuff’ to do — the rebel in me has been fighting against it. I’ve given myself the space to think, to figure exactly what I want to do next. I feel like I’ve taken time to recharge my spirit, the flame inside that makes me who I am, and I importantly, I’ve given myself space to get used my new life. I reckon I’m almost ready to come out from hibernation!

Not guilty

So if you’re like me and you find it hard to slow down. Maybe you feel guilty when you’re not working non-stop or committing your time to one cause or another. Perhaps you feel like you should be seen to be out partying or working a million hours a week (OK so that is a slight exaggeration), or both?… From what I know of myself, the more I fill my time with pointless distractions, or spend time with people that I’m not that bothered about, the less connected or focused I am on me. The less time you spend on finding your calling in life and the less likely you are to feel fulfilled.

So here’s what I say…. and it is easier said than done…. while the nights are still long and the days grey, tap into the power of winter. Give yourself permission to indulge in what will really make you happy — without feeling guilty about it (that’s the hard part, right?!). Give yourself time to hibernate, contemplate and get in touch with your instincts. Then you can truly wake up to the rest of 2013 with wholehearted passion, compassion and sense of adventure — on your terms. It’s totally yours for the taking!