Winter Feast For The Soul Newsletter
Winter Feast For The Soul


February 10, 2016

Volume 9, Number 6

In this Issue:

A new moon teaches gradualness
and deliberation, and how one gives birth
to oneself slowly. Patience with small details
makes perfect a large work, like the universe.
What nine months does for the embryo
Forty early mornings
Will do for your growing awareness
Jelaluddin Rumi
13th Century poet and mystic


Changing your brain can change the world

Meditation and spiritual practice can have a profound effect on your health: decreasing blood pressure, lowering cortisol levels, smoothing out atrial fibulation. But recently brain scan technologies have given the world the ability to look more deeply at the effects of concentrating on a Higher Power and how developing a regular spiritual practice literally change the structure of our brains in several measurable and desirable ways.

Friend of the Feast, Sarah McLean, recently recommended a very interesting book: “How God Changes Your Brain” by Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman. The book was published in 2009 so some of what I am going to say here has found its way into the media and might already be familiar to you. In any event it is important information for us in our work together.

The most striking new fact for me was that there is a part of the brain known as the anterior cingulate that is strengthened with daily spiritual practice. Here comes the exciting part: as the anterior cingulated is strengthened, the activity of the amygdala slows down. The amygdala is the part of the brain that generates anxiety and fear and is responsible for the fight-or-flight phenomenon. The anterior cingulate generates a sense of At-One-Ment, unity, empathy, love and compassion.

As we engage in a most pluralistic world where people have differing perceptions of the divine, it is important to nurture and develop the anterior cingulate. Change your thoughts and you will change your world. If enough of us change our personal world we can have a profound effect on the larger world around us.

The journey that we embark on each year with Winter Feast is both personal and global. We honor all traditions and spiritual teachings, knowing that each came into being at a time and place in history when they were needed. Here at Winter Feast we celebrate the differences and uncover the similarities. All are searching for the same Truth of our existence. The danger occurs when anger and violence become a habit of mind that have the power to control a collective and to develop a sense of righteousness.

Our work is to balance that tendency with empathy, love and compassion and to bring that to the world as our peace offering.

We honor all traditions that create no harm and we express that in the opening candle lighting ceremony for the Feast. You will find the opening ceremony for the Winter Feast on YouTube:

Opening Ceremony

Here we honor the unique place that each holds in our journey to global Unity and Peace.

One last thing that the work of Newberg and Waldman suggests is that practicing once or twice a week is not enough to cultivate the neurological shift that we need to make big global changes. Their work suggests that a daily practice of 40- 45 minutes are needed to produce the shifts in our lives and in the world that are so badly needed today

We are more than half way through the 40-day journey. If you are still with us, then you are beginning to feel the effects. If you have become lost, then don’t be afraid or reticent to start over.

Spiritual teachers through the ages have offered this guidance and many of you have heard their call and have already experienced the results in your personal lives. But today’s world is calling for more from us. Even if you have been at this for 40 years, it doesn’t mean that we can stand still. Our collaboration is critical.

Our favorite 13th Century mystic and poet, Rumi, tells us:

“Come, come, whoever you are … Even if you have broken your vow one thousand times, come, come yet again .”

Next year will be our tenth Winter Feast for the Soul. Our goal is to double our numbers and to bring you more powerful teachers to guide you on your way. Stay tuned and become part of the challenge as we set our course for the future. ~vjs



We asked and you answered

In the last newsletter we asked how you liked the new format. We had several reasons for offering this format and we wanted to know if we had created something of value for you as well as for our teachers. It seems that we have done that, although a few of you were not as enthusiastic as most of the others.

A couple of weeks ago we heard from one of our long-time “Feasters” who said she felt the meditations this year were of a higher quality than in past years and were sure to take our participants deeper in their practice. Several of you wrote and said that you “love the new format” and saw great value in it from their own experience. As one of the respondents said: “each day I am a new person and I bring a new part of me to the meditation. Thus I hear something new that I might previously have missed.”

It just could be that this lighter commitment may be the reason that the teachers were able to go deeper in their offerings as well. Some of them are offering a series that goes deeper into certain teachings that might never have been offered in the older 40-day series.

Winter Feast for the Soul works to create the motivation and the tools to accommodate your varied needs in order to help you establish a daily spiritual practice in your lives … one that will last through the coming year … and one that will be with you for the rest of your life.

It was never our intention to tell you that you must use the new format. The new format was offered to bring greater value to you. We offer a complete library that houses over 1,000 different meditations from most traditions and philosophies. You can choose a format that works for you. In general, whatever works for you works for us.

Thank you to each of you who took the time to respond and give us your feedback. Your continued comments and suggestions are always welcome.



We still need your donations for ordinary expenses as well as to bring together the 2017 Tenth Winter Feast for the Soul.  Please donate now.

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