Bonfires, Wine, Cake and The Sun Standing Still

stonehenge, winter solstice, tantra

No one is probably surprised to hear that the winter solstice was a time of merriment in Ancient Greece. After all, to this day, in Greece there is always some sort of celebration, let alone those ancient times when even philosophizing involved drinking.

But who would have thought that the winter solstice celebration was in honor of Poseidon, the god of the sea?

In Athens, and other parts of Ancient Greece, there was a month that corresponded to our December/January that was named Poseideon. Think about it… It makes perfect sense that the time chosen for his festival would coincide with the season the Greeks were least likely to set sail. 🙂

The winter solstice festival of Poseidon was celebrated in Athens and other cities of ancient Greece with large bonfires and a lot of wine and cake. Large bonfires and a lot of wine and cake you are wondering? Of course! Both activities were related to the failing sun. The large bonfires, symbolizing the creation of light and the wine and cake symbolizing the enjoyment of the cover that the darkness can provide.

Legend has it that the popularity of the Poseidonia on the island of Aegina (where we hold many of our trainings) was so high that they were extended to two months long.

In every culture, solstices are important ritualistic days designed to celebrate the changing of the seasons and a new energy. In fact, solstice in Latin means “the sun stands still”. The Sun standing still is a metaphor for the day the Sun appears to reverse direction and a new solar cycle begins.

Astronomically, the solstice happens twice a year when the tilt of the earth’s axis is most inclined toward or away from the sun causing the sun’s apparent position in the sky to reach its northernmost or southernmost extreme.

bonfires, wine, cake and the winter solstice

For those in the northern hemisphere the winter solstice is the day of the shortest period of daylight, known as the darkest day of the year. It is the time of the year that we have the opportunity to remember, reflect upon and study deep into our soul. We may not like everything that we find, but that is perfectly fine as long as we decide to own it. Only then, we shall find the strength to change it.

Whether it is the candlelight, a bonfire, a journal, or wine and cake that we choose, taking responsibility, exercising our ability to respond to the darkest elements of our soul, will help us move on to a richer human experience.

Hear even more about the ancestral celebrations of the winter solstice and how it can help us today by listening to our podcast episode below.

Episode 013 – The Winter Solstice for a Strong Mind – Feasting, Fasting and Community

  • The meaning of solstice
  • The honoring of Poseidon
  • Solstice and Rituals
  • Celebrating the community
  • Feasting, fasting and fire gazing
  • Introspection
  • What makes an angry yogi
  • Nietzsche and the destruction of Ancient Greece
  • Why Fight Club is the perfect winter solstice movie
  • You can find Fight Club here:

Audio Transcript

Kind: captions
Language: en

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The Spartan mind strength podcast the
podcast for mental grit and resilience

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hosted by Vie Binga and Tim Ganley

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-- Hello this is Tim -- and this is Vie and
we welcome you to another episode of the

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Spartan mind strength podcast -- today
we're going to be talking about the

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winter solstice -- stay tuned we'll be
right back

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-- the winter solstice and mind strength we're
going to be talking first a little bit

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about the history of the winter solstice
and then we'll talk a little bit why

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it's important for having a strong mind
so first tell me about the winter

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solstice --
ah well the concept of the solstice

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there are there are two there is the
winter solstice and there is the summer

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solstice so the concept -- and we're talking
about the winter solstice --  the winter solstice

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right now -- because it's called outside -- it is in the
northern hemisphere okay solstice

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it's a latin word and it actually means
the sun standing still and -- so it's not a

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Greek word -- 
it's I'm sure it is it has an ancient

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Greek origin since everything that's
right it is a metaphor actually the Sun

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appears to be standing still because it
changes directions and the winter

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solstice we usually refer to as a day
anywhere between December 20th and 23rd

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in the northern hemisphere but it is
actually more of like a moment in the

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it is when the Earth's axis

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astronomically is the furthest away from
the Sun this is why the winter solstice

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for us appears to be the shortest day
the shortest time between sunrise and

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sunset and the longest night it is
actually the darkest time of the year

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-- darkest and that's that brings us to
Greece -- yes so the winter solstice has

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been celebrated for thousands of years
like the Stonehenge is an example of

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honoring the winter solstice the Newgrange in Ireland is another example

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ancient people appreciated the winter
solstice and the summer solstice -- a lot more

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than today's --  a lot more than today so in
ancient Greece since  --  everything is ancient Greece  --  they were

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celebrating go figure
at first it doesn't make much sense they

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were celebrating Poseidon the god
Poseidon and it's like why what does Poseidon -- for

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the winter solstice -- yes yeah  --  that makes
no sense

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--  well yeah they were drinking a lot probably 
that's why ah but there was

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there was a good reason
it was the time that they were the least

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likely to set sail to go on the water so
since they were not going to be on the

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water with Poseidon they figured they
would celebrate Poseidon through fire

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wine and cake and all that  --  wine and cake -- yes yeah
wine and cake because they believed that

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there was a cover since it was such
a dark time that time of the year it

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was literally dark because the Sun
wasn't out as much -- and it still isn't --

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-- and it still isn't yeah with wine and cake
they could honor the darkness they

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had a cover so they could go a little
bit wild they could celebrate the

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darkness and also they had the bonfires
because they needed to also welcome the

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light that was about to come -- and that
was in Greece and it started off as  --  in Ancient Greece -- it started

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in Aegina actually the island that we do
teacher trainings on -- in Aegina  being being a

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very very highly water oriented ship

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Island they were they say that they were
celebrating for about two months -- so it

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wasn't just a moment and it was it
wasn't it wasn't a day and they actually

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say that the celebration of Poseidon is
what led to the celebration of Saturn

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the Saturnalia in Rome which was a very
very crazy time more crazy than in

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ancient Greece very nice so that's
basically the history that everybody

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celebrated this time of year for

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welcoming of the Sun it was welcoming of
the Sun it was a rebirth it was

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acknowledging the darkness and welcoming
the Sun the days would start to become

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longer and in in the north in all
tradition also the concept of the you

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the log egos for the same reason to
welcome the light they would start the

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log on a fire they would start one end
of it and they would wait until the

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whole log burned and legend has it that
sometimes he would take 12 days so they

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had a 12 day so they had a 12 day
celebration I sort of like the Greeks

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two months of drinking and eating cake a
bonfire yeah but I also like the Norse

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mythology because they were eating a lot
of meat today got a feasting feasting so

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so it basically is a time for party it
is a time for celebration

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ritualistic celebration though
celebration for a region excellent so in

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about two seconds we'll be back to talk
about why it's great for the brain stay

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do you like what you hear the Spartan
mind strength podcast is available on

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Apple podcast and all other popular
podcast destinations please subscribe

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today and consider leaving us a reading
in Review

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it helps us spread the word and help
others find our content don't forget to

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leave a comment and any questions you
may have Tim and V would love to hear

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from you

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- traffic this is one of the ways that
you strengthen your mind you create more

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grit more strength for your brain
basically why ah because of the wine

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it's um
first of all it's about community ah no

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matter which culture you are looking at
and even in today's day and age this

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time of the year is all about
celebrating within your community it's a

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it's a bonding it is actually
acknowledging that we can only move

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forward we can only thrive if we view
ourselves as part of a greater community

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and up and actually celebrate that
accept that not fight that and this was

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the feasting time this was the feasting
time yes was the acknowledgement of that

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they feasted they ate a lot yes so they
were putting in good proteins good fats

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and some bad carbs and some bad carbs
are to prepare for the time of fasting

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that was going to come because winner
comes in you don't get as much food you

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have to fast exact time and actually
they would almost hibernate to some

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degree so yeah it depends it depends
which part of the world yes some parts

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they did hibernate some others they just
kept going even with less yeah so they

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ate good food they also watched fire and
fire is good for what a fire is good for

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your mitochondria yeah fire gazing see
since the Sun was no doubt as much

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because the Sun is tremendous for our
mitochondria they were actually having

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the bonfire since then so creating
community eating good food watching

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gunfire's mitochondria what else was
going on with this uh the the other

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thing was that they were actually
preparing for a time of introspection

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because they right right right after the
the celebration right after the feast

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along with the fast it was gonna be a
quieter time and that was gonna give

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them the chance to actually reflect upon
what had happened and what was coming

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because they it was it was almost like a
meditation except they were not just

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sitting there to do it it was more of a
non structured meditation that they were

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preparing for and it was necessary for
them that's why they were able to also

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create all those things that we see
today and make progress you have you

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have to have a balance of both you have
to have the extrovert aspect and you

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have to have the introvert aspect and
you can't have just one and it has to be

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cyclical and that's what that time of
the year was it was that transition so

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in that transition was anywhere between
twelve days to two months

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exactly exactly it depends because you
have different cultures and this one

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into the Latin or into the Roman times
also it came into this the Saturnalia

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yeah and the Saturnalia they were so
that that that cyclical aspect was so

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dramatic that during those celebrations
the their roles of the society were

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being reversed the slaves were becoming
the masters the masters were becoming

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the slaves schools and offices were
shutting down everything was becoming

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reversed in society
to to actually show people that you know

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how things can be and actually how
mother nature is mother nature works in

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cyclical ways it's all about dynamic
balance nothing is strict and mother

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nature always gives us what we need at a
time as long as we acknowledge it and

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accept it and use it it's the same with
us when we say we go into a meditation

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or introspection what is that really
it's it's actually us digging deep

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within within the darkest places of our
soul and instead of making that hide

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even deeper acknowledging it owning it
taking responsibility for it and

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changing whichever part we don't like or
whichever part doesn't serve us but most

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importantly our community so meditation
actually is not hiding things it's not

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suppressing that's what happens a lot in
today's world that's why you have all

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those angry Yogi's too because what they
do is they suppress well the Solstice

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concept says on that have your wine have
your cake on that and prepare shed light

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to it with a bonfire to use it to use it
for the greater good and actually

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Nietzsche did some work but he was
looking at Apollo and Dionysus yes

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saying that the culture was destroyed in
Greece they went too far in the mind yes

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and not enough in pleasure exactly they
went to Apollonian and they forgot the

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celebration of the human experience
Dionysos was teaching yes that's that's

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actually the downfall of ancient Greece
and a lot of other societies so that

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this time of year is actually designed
for us to get back into or get out of

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our brain get back into the enjoyment of
the world of the human experience that's

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right that's what but we're talking
about mind strength and you're telling

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us mine forget or what yeah yes it
sounds like at first it sounds like a

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self-contradiction how can you
strengthen your mind when you are

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getting when you quit using your brain
or you started using your mind a lot

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less well in order to strengthen our
mind we got to get out of our mind by

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out of our head yes we got to get out of
our head because we think we think that

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we need to always be very very rational
be very very logical we we feel that we

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need to always be in control of our mind
but neuroscience has also showed that in

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order for us to understand our mind
deeper to understand our mind better we

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need to let go of that control we have
our conscious mind and we have our

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subconscious mind and our subconscious
mind has a lot to teach us but we never

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get to it because we always operate out
of our fully conscious mind we always

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use that
prefrontal cortex that making decisions

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being logical being rational and we
never fully understand ourselves because

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we either are afraid of our subconscious
mind or we never we don't even know

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about it
so the best thing that we can do this

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time of year is going back to what the
ancients did and that is eat good party

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with your friends create community do a
bonfire hang out and enjoy instead of

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thinking all the time exactly it's let

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truly they let go may sound a little bit
foolish because that's how it's used a

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lot of times but is truly let go of
always trying to control everything

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always trying to understand everything
my most favorite way to explain the

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concept of let go is through the Fight
Club movie yes who wear the alter ego

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the older ego tells Tyler Durden ah just
let go they are driving there they are

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in the car and history actually Tyler
Durden tells him yes yeah

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the subconscious tells the conscious
just let go it's like you could die any

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minute you all this could happen and
you're still trying to control

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everything just let go that's one and
celebrate the winter solstice happy

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winter solstice everybody
until next time much much love from both

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of us namaste kala may we all be well

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if you found today's show helpful please
give us a rating a review or both and

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subscribe to the podcast and never miss
an episode

00:18:36.090 --> 00:18:45.120
as always namaste calab which in greek
means may we all be well this program

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copyright true fitness incorporated all
rights reserved

00:19:12.330 --> 00:19:14.390

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