As a physician, every single cell in our body is literally like a miracle to me.
How it functions, replicates, repairs, lives, dies, replaces. The fact that our skin is self healing, our bones fuse back together, we breathe and our heart beats while we use our body to do other things all day long without even thinking about it, how we create life, how little humans grow within us and are born.
The fact that all of it, almost every bit of it, comes from cosmic dust and stars — it’s all just so damn magical. We are wearing solid, tangible bodies — I love the term “earth suits” — and we run a life spark through that body that brings the elements of stardust to life.
Researchers estimate that we are approximately 97% stardust, formed over 13 billion years ago. Scientists used infrared spectrography to survey almost 200,000 stars and found that 97% of the same elements that make up human life make up the entire Milky Way galaxy.
So now I have taken to calling our incredibly human bodies star suits instead of earth suits.
“We are now able to map the abundance of all of the major elements found in the human body across hundreds of thousands of stars in our Milky Way,” said Jennifer Johnson, chair of the SDSS-III APOGEE survey and a professor at The Ohio State University, in a public statement on the research.
Can you think of anything more beautiful?
Could you be any more magnificent?
Remembering that you are the universe, coalescing into physical form, in a beautiful living earth suit of stars, and that you are breathing through it this very moment, and thinking a thought at this very moment, and your heart is beating in this very moment, aren’t you so impressed with your body?
You are having a conscious experience full of meaning and feeling and using it to interact with other star dust humans. It’s so beautiful.
Winter solstice is drawing quickly near, which means it’s these weeks have the shortest days of the year and the longest nights. This is a beautiful time to step outside and see that starlight that makes up the galaxy, and makes up you and me.
Here are 7 fun things you can do to celebrate the night sky while at the same time, boosting the health of your beautiful human star suit.
7 Fun Winter Solstice Ideas:
1. Winter Solstice Soup Potluck
For winter solstice I always like to make a big pot of soup for dinner, cooking it all day long so that the broth is nice and rich. To make it even easier, I highly recommend getting your friends together for a winter solstice soup potluck and ask everyone to bring a soup to share.
It’s so fun to have lots of different bowls of soups and chilis and stews to try… as the host all you need to do is provide lots of lovely wonderful bread and some fresh organic butter to enjoy with the soup. And like I blogged about last week, connecting with others is a fabulous way to boost your health too.
2. Choose A Word of the Year
This is an activity I have been doing with loved ones since I was in college 30 years ago. Each year, as the old year draws to a close and the new year is just around the corner, I’ve picked a word-of-the-year… one that captures the intention I would like to welcome into my life. It’s fun to discuss potential words with your friends and loved ones, and it’s really fun to hear what word each person settles on and why they selected it.
3. Fire Gazing
Fire gazing is a wonderful, contemplative practice that is so lovely to do in the winter when the warm glow of a flame feels all the more nurturing and comforting. You can gaze at a fire in your fireplace or in a fire pit outside, but perhaps most simple of all is using a candle.
Light your favorite candle and find a comfortable spot to be seated. Breathe in and out gazing softly at the candle for at least ten full in and out breaths. If you find meditation or breath work challenging, you may find the practice of fire gazing easier and find you enjoy it more. I know I do.
Prefer a different form of centering meditation? Hop over to my blog post here on simple techniques using your breath for a few moments of healing stillness, similar to fire gazing:
4. Head To A Sauna
As the weather is gets unbearably cold, you can use a sauna to reap very similar benefits to exercising, but without the cold air burning your lungs!
Click here to read my blog post on the absolutely stunning amount of health benefits from sauna — almost every organ system benefits and there are even studies showing routine sauna lengthens lifespan:
Sauna raises the core body temperature and increases circulation very similar to exercise. So if you can’t exercise (or, ahem, like me, don’t particularly love to in the winter) then one good alternative is sauna.
It’s more important to stretch in the winter time than any other time, because muscles grow cold and cold muscles are more likely to be injured, strained or torn.
Picture a bear waking up from hibernation, stretching arms out wide and rolling their torso all around to get moving again. If you can stretch like this all winter long you will keep your body limber and in ready condition for spring to arrive!
Here are a few stretches to get you started.
- Neck Stretches: Slowly lower your chin toward your upper chest and hold the position for one long slow deep breath in and out. Raise your chin up and look up at the ceiling for another long slow deep breath in and out. Turn your head to the left and right, slowly looking over your shoulder as far it is comfortable, each time for a full deep breath. Repeat this sequence three times to thoroughly loosen up your neck. Finish with a few slow head rolls in each direction.
- Spinal Twist: I find that sitting in a chair makes a spinal twist much easier. Simply sit on the edge of the seat with nice straight tall posture, and slowly reach back to one side, placing the hand on the side that is twisting back on the backrest or (if there is no backrest) on the back edge of the seat. Take a few deep breaths, allowing your hand to grab the chair and pull your spine further around with each breath, deepening the stretch. You can also place your opposite hand on the opposing knee and pull gently to help deepen the twist further. Then slowly release and twist to the other side, holding for several breaths in the same way. Finish by standing up a few feet away from a desktop, tabletop or countertop. Place hands on the countertop, with arms straight out. Keeping your back straight, lean over until your back is parallel to floor, so you are folding at the hips (legs straight) and forming an L. Relax into this stretch, letting your upper back and head fold so much that it drops below the countertop level where your hands are resting. Feel a full back stretch as you deepen into this stretch for several long breaths, then slowly release back to standing.
- Arm circles: Arm circles warm up the arm and shoulder muscles, encouraging circulation and involving the shoulders, triceps, biceps and upper back. Simply hold arms directly out to the side and circle them a few times frontwards, then backwards. Finish by clasping hands behind your back, arms straight, and lifting gently to feel a nice stretch across the front of your shoulders. Gently release. Ahhhhhh! Feel how much more at home in your body you feel after a few moments stretching. It’s so worth it.
Want some more ideas to get you moving, even indoors, even in the winter? Read my blog post on this here:
6. Prioritize Sleep This Week
If you can give yourself at least one solid week this winter to prioritize sleep, you will do so much to repair your body and boost your wellness that it’s hard to overestimate the impact sleep has on the human body.
These days of bright artificial lights and TV channels that blast shows 24 hours a day can keep us feeling like there isn’t much difference between the middle of the night and the middle of the day. But there is. To your body, to your pineal gland, your hormones, your brain… the difference between night and day is iron clad.
You are meant to sleep at night, and you are meant to sleep longer in the winter months. Allow your body to get an extra hour of sleep each night during the winter… at least in honor of Winter Solstice, vow to sleep an extra hour each night this week and see if your mood, energy level, eating habits, activity level and joy all get a boost!
For more tips on getting that restorative sleep more easily, hop over to this blog post here:
7. Do A Quick Energetic Release Ceremony
2024 is unwritten… it is aligning and formulating and adjusting and gathering energy for you as we speak.
Here is one little 5 minute ceremony that can help you free yourself up from the energy of the old in order to warm up to the awaiting future. All it is is this: write down what you are grateful for from 2023: what you are ready to release, what you wish to bid farewell to, what you are freeing your future up from, then simply light a corner of your paper on fire with a candle and watch as the paper transforms to smoke, watching it dissipate and disappear.
Just write down whatever comes to mind, or draw a picture (when my kids were very little, they would just draw a cute little picture and have fun lighting those with the candle. No words needed). After the majority of paper has caught fire, just drop the remaining piece into a bowl of water to safely extinguish.
This is such a sweet, safe, fun way for children to experiment with fire — with the love and support of their family all around them as they safely reflect on the past and express their wishes for the future. Just have a bowl of water waiting and have FUN!
Here is to honoring our magnificent star suits this winter and wear them brightly into a beautiful awaiting 2024.