June solstice, 2012

Why Retreat on Solstices and Equinoxes

ECMS held all day meditation sessions from 2009-2012. Why did they happen around the times of the solstice and equinox? Why do I continue to observe these times?

It is an ancient practice to celebrate the change in seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. The seasons change with respect to the sun. Observe the light, take a break to look within and start anew. Astronomy teaches that these quarterly changes coincide with the solstices and equinoxes..

Because the axis of earth's rotation is tipped away from the sun, on the June and December solstices, axes of both earth and sun are aligned with the axis of the center of the galaxy. The longest and shortest days of the year occur oppositely in the northern and southern hemispheres. We confront extremes. In June, earth is between the sun and galactic center. In December, the sun is between earth and the galactic center.

Because the earth rotates around the sun, on the March and September equinoxes, equators of earth and sun cross. Day and night are about equal in length. We balance. The sun rotates around the center of the galaxy. In March, we are in advance of the sun in its orbit. Do we feel a push? In September, we follow the sun in its orbit. Do we feel a pull?

Observing these basic rhythms of nature is not associated with any particular religion or culture or time or place on earth. In line with the goals of a retreat or meditation, it facilitates connection with the universe or universal consciousness.

Why retreat? Are you good with that? If yes, OK, the question than is "When?".

At the winter solstice in North America we get the least sun with the shortest day, while at the same time it is the summer solstice in South America, getting the most sun of the whole year on the longest day.

Modern astronomers have learned the reasons for this and established exact moments of each seasonal event. our equator only aligns with the equator of the sun in spring and fall, the two equinoxes.

When ECMS first did a day-long meditation it happened to be on the December solstice. We liked it so well that we wanted to do it again. A quarterly retreat, four times a year seemed doable. Solstices and equinoxes have added benefits. They mark the changes in the seasons which since ancient times have been good days to celebrate, reflect, and make a new start. Each special day has its unique character. Winter is the shortest day of the year, summer the longest. Modern astronomy pinpoints the solstices exactly, when earth's axis is aligned with the sun between the center and edge of the galaxy. Spring and fall equinoxes have nearly equal day and night hours. That's when earth's equator lines up and crosses the sun's equator and we directly precede or follow the sun on its path around the galactic plane.

I made these statements in response to Nancy's question: why do this around the times of the solstice and equinox? She is going to respond to reporter's questions about the benefits, the difficulties, and the significance of an all-day meditation session.

12 solstices and equinoxes.
36th Birthday scroll painting, 1970Follow Equinox 2016The first time I remember celebrating the solstice was for my 36th birthday in 1970. In 2016 I started a list of online references to celebrating the Follow Equinox.
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