The winter solstice finally arrived on December 21st. In Japan, we call it "To-Ji" and spend this day to pray for the family's health & prosperity by specially prepared food and taking a yuzu bath.
As the season circles around, our ancestors considered To-Ji as an important turning point of the year. When the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun, we receive fewer hours of sunlight. From this day forward, the duration of the sunlight becomes longer and stronger until the day of the summer solstice comes around. Therefore, the winter solstice is the celebration day for the sun's rebirth and we have a priviledge to receive the energy of resetting our lives in confirming the rythem of the universe.
Although it is a rebirth day of the sun, our ancestors also knew it is the day of the darkness/death of the year just like a Yin & Yang energy are right next to each other. During the To-Ji season, we receive less sunlight, and many people influenced by shorter hours of sunlight become prone to illness. That is why our ancestors considered To-Ji as a precious day to celebrate so we can ward off the darkness. There are many studies of physical & mental disorders under the effect of the duration of sunlight. I think this is one of the reasons that people around the world also have traditional festive event this time of the year.
So, it was a perfect day to spend Yufuko from No Gate Tea to celeberate To-Ji at BDK America in Moraga. We were so thankful that many people participated in our special event. We practiced Chair Yoga first. Yufuko introduced us the beautiful breathing technique which we can do no matter where you are including working environment. Then, we practiced walking meditations together. This technique is also easily applied to any place as long as you have a little place to walk. We did just 20 min. of walking together around BDK backyard, and it brought a calmness and appreciation.
After the walking meditations, we had a macrobiotic To-Ji lunch box that I prepared. I made a lot of items using traditonal Japaense food. Since the new year was approching, I made tradional dishes that we often eat on the new years that is Kobu-maki. Kobu means Kelp, and maki means roll. It usually stuffed with some fish inside and rolled by kelp, but I used gobo (burdock roots and carrats) to create the celeberation color of red and white. burdock roots is also represents a long life as its root has a long length. Kobu means happiness and joy in Japanese term. I hope this Kobu-maki would bring a lot of joy to everyone who eat this bento throughout the year. Cooking is one of the form of my prayer. while I cook, I pray for the happiness and heath for those who eat my bento.
I used a lot of sun-dried vegetables such as Kiriboshi daikon (Japanese daikon radish and shiitake mushrooms. They are not only loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fibers but observed condensed energy of the sun. So we can get the vital energy of the sun from the inside of our body. ☀️
Afther the lunch, Yufuko introduced 3 kinds of tea. We just enjoyed the deep flavorful tea. Each tea tasting brought us a blissful moment. Yufuko is the master of bringing out the best from within the tea. Her love and devotion for the tea is just something else.
At the end, we concluded with simple zazen meditation led by Yufuko. It is always so nice to end with a deep relaxed asmosphere with a full of gratitude. Yufuko's zazen meditation allows us to appreciate the minor things within our busy lives. So, it was a wonderful eye opener to appreciate and celebrate all the little things we have taken for granted.
I was able to carry this energy of gratitude all the way to home and even to bedtime. What a lovey way to spend To-Ji with Yufuko and everyone who participated in this yoga get together.
Thank you, Yufuko, David and everyone who joined this final event of 2018. Wishing you lots of happiness and health all the way through the new year!
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