More beauty in mystery, more comfort amidst the chill.
I snuck in a little visit to my creek sanctuary yesterday, just south of my studio. I didn't have a lot of time, so I bundled up, and just hung out for 10 minutes in the exquisite beauty there. Grateful.
It got me thinking, how are you feeling as we enter into the darkest time of the year?
How is the quiet, cold, slowing-down world feeling in your cells, your bones, your heart?
Hmmmm. I know it might be hard to hear it.
I know our culture so insists on not just continuing full tilt, but actually speeding up at this time of year when every other life form knows it's time to slow down. (You know, the bears in their dens and such).
Even though it happens every year, we often forget that this time of year is simply the counterpart to the hot, active summertime.
In many cultures besides our own, this cycle of balance is deeply acknowledged:
Summer is masculine, yang, sunny, growing, outward, doing, moving, a time for logical steps forward.
Winter is feminine, yin, dark, resting, inward, being, retreating, a time for allowing mystery + reflection.
We live in a demanding culture that is very yang and masculine, pushing for activity all through the year.
The feminine, restful, dark and mysterious has trouble finding space and validation. In fact, it is often simply deemed negative (weak, bad, lazy, waste of time).
So, I invite you to give yourself deep, loving, sacred permission:
This year, may you have more space for silence, more comfort amidst the chill, more beauty in the mysterious dark, and more allowance for rest.
Does this go against nearly every cultural message? (Winter is depressing! The holidays are stressful! I don't have time until January! I can't wait to get away!)
Can this be difficult?
Yes. (Give yourself extra gentleness, love.)
In fact, give everyone some big extra armfuls of compassion at this time of year. We're all caught in this tension.
There is no doubt that the cold deep dark carries a harshness from which we need some practical protection. (Everyday I'm grateful as I pull on my long janes, wool socks and mukluks.)
But there is equally a need to honor and yield to the elemental and mysterious forces this time of year.
(If you're all over this already, and you just want to make like a bear and curl up, then by all means, come on in for your snuggle up time, your personal retreat, your "yes" to this time of mystery and silence.)
Ready for something to try at home? Here are two things you can do today:
1. Notice the tension + add a little tenderness. Simply acknowledge, witness, be present to the culture we are in. Let yourself see it from a detached place. See the busyness, the expectations, the pushing forward. (If you enjoy some of the holiday bustle, wonderful! Just notice how this energy often goes haywire.)
Then take a moment to notice the natural world. The slowing of water molecules into ice and snow. The energy of trees retreating into roots until their branches are bare.
Take a few breaths or moments to extend compassion to yourself, those around you, and the world for existing and doing our best in the midst of this tension. (The powerful part here is coming back to compassion, not judgement.)
2. Pick one thing you usually resist about the dark season. What do you hear yourself saying out loud to others, or to yourself?
Now, see if there is a new way that you can not love, or even embrace, but simply lean in and honor this element of winter.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
How can you make use of the dark? More star-gazing? More early bedtimes? More story-telling or music-making?
How can you lean into the cold? Bundling up with every warm thing you own and going for a walk anyway? A fire on a winter's night? Enjoying the feeling of being wrapped in a nest of cozy blankets?
How can you take advantage of the rare silence winter brings? Visiting a place in your neighborhood where no one goes in the winter? Secret morning or evening time for spiritual practice or reflection?
I'd love to hear what you come up with. Send me a little note or come on in. I'm here to support you with oodles of coziness.