Winter Solstice is one of my most favorite days of the year. It is like a a momentary pause between exhalation and inhalation. A mystical moment containing a reminder of infinity and a promise of many possibilities. We are about to approach an inhalation of daylight and the build-up of energy to 2016. I feel that it is the perfect moment to pause and process the wild ride of the past 12 months.

Some of you who are reading this post came to my yoga classes at various locations in Santa Fe, Oxford, Witney, London, Poole, Bournemouth, Moscow and even Ashgabat (I can’t remember immediately in what other cities we’ve met). And it is so exciting to know that we can still stay in touch.

Yesterday I made some great progress in my graphic novel drawing/writing (already its been 2 years since I started it). And the drawing that came out was a traumatic memory, which along with many others is in the process of being refined, accepted and transcended. It is no surprise that it came right before the darkest night of the year. The drawing is about a small, but significant event in building my fighter spirit. I was a teen and I was living in our poor little dilapidated flat on the outskirts of Moscow.

At the time I was looking after my two younger brothers and co-existing with a violent and irrational mother and her third husband. They were heavy drinkers and that night I witnessed an attack on one of my little brothers. What was so shocking was not the violence (we kind of got used to that), but the execution. I clearly remember seeing my brother being hurled across the room and across the hall, directly into furniture and painful cabinet knobs. And the movement was so cinematic and slow. I could trace every frame of it and see the aftermath in great detail. It fixed itself permanently in my mind.

At this point you might ask, why am I sharing this? Well, I know there is a lot of sorrow in the world and sometimes being happy doesn’t mean we have to always cover our sorrow with a supposedly positive exterior. I don’t think it works that way. I believe (proven by my own experience) that through sharing our good and bad memories we can grow and help each other. We can remember that there is hope even in the darkest night. Some emotions and memories have to complete their cycle and we absolutely must hear what our inner vulnerable children have to say. What happens after? Well, that is unique to the individual and situation, but there is hope even if your knees are shaking and heart is burning. After many years and many miles away from that small episode it now seems very surreal. I noticed that I was still angry and upset, but yet I felt love. I felt love and compassion for the aggressive party of the argument, as well as for my brother and me. At this point I don’t know why or how, but I feel that it wasn’t my “stepfather’s” fault for acting aggressively. He was simply behaving like someone who suffered emotionally. And I know it wasn’t a calculated attack. That said, if I had to relive that episode, I’d still defend my brother – only I’d have better skills!

So, the Winter Solstice. You might be dark and cold, but there is such a thing as Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses. And us soul yogis with crazy histories have all the tools to flow through it. And remember after the Solstice every day stays brighter a little bit longer.