Are you exhausted? Maybe here’s why, Dear One…
For the hundreds of thousands of years of human existence — as hunter gatherers or agrarian peoples — this time of less daylight brought rest. Before electricity made it possible to ignore the yearly cycles of light and darkness, it’s likely that our ancestors spent much more of the winter asleep. Ah ha!
But we have a multitude of flashy distractions to help us deny or ignore our own evolutionary need for quiet and rest. Human evolution can’t possibly have caught up with the speed of our modern technological advances.
With all that light, we’re drawn outward. Toward all that must be done. We indulge our fascination with the endless possibilities for work and play, always occupied, always busy doing, doing, doing.
We are a culture addicted to doing. If we’re not catching up on work, these dark evenings are likely to find us exhausted, scrolling through social media or watching Netflix.
When we’re not running so fast or collapsed in distracted recovery, the subtle messages that draw us to our own wisdom can’t help but emerge. Only we’d rather avoid them, right? Maybe that’s why we stay so busy. Amped up on caffeine to get through our long list of have to’s, it’s easy not to notice that deeper primordial ancient impulse calling us back to the quiet.
What December usually brings are parties and staying up late, with an amped up light show everywhere we turn. Then we can’t help but be distracted from going inward to nourish ourselves with what we most innately crave. Usually we don’t even feel the longing. Instead we call it depression.
I’ve been wondering lately if SAD — seasonal affective disorder — is less about the lack of light in our lives near the winter solstice and more about how we don’t attend to our very real human need — body and soul — for downtime.
But maybe this year, it could be different.
As we move day by day into the December darkness and approaching Solstice, I invite you to let yourself off the hook of all that over-doing, and receive the spaciousness and revelation that this growing darkness can bring.
Beyond just our bodies’ need to harmonize with our surroundings, if we allow it, this time offers a chance to tune in and listen for a deeper calling from our essence. And settling in to listen for the longing beneath all our doing opens us to the Wisdom this time can reveal.
During the few weeks before and after the solstice there is less than one minute’s change in the amount of light and darkness.
As much as we may try to distance ourselves within the comfort of our homes, we are undeniably a part of nature and it’s cycles. At this darkest part of the year I invite you to experience your body’s natural alignment with its surroundings, with Nature that you are undeniably of.
So try this…Give yourself permission, if only for a few minutes during these rare evenings, to sit quietly with all the lights off.
With each in-breath receive the darkness, as if a gift to your tired being.
Let each out-breath invite some tight muscle or mind grip to let go.
Notice your body’s inclinations. What part of you is wanting to sink down in relief?
Then listen for what’s here. Do you feel a longing to light a candle and watch the flame dance in the darkness? Notice your own mood, thoughts, and awarenesses.
This may not be easy for you. Sitting still you might notice what a challenge it is to release the mind’s perpetual occupation with planning, plotting, and puttering. Ah, sweet mind! It’s been doing it’s thing so incessantly, for so long! So be gentle with yourself. See if you can sit with this discomfort and let yourself just feel it. You will not die, I promise! Then listen for what’s beneath it. What do you most need, Dear Friend?
Would the simple pleasure of a few quiet minutes be something you might like to infuse into many of your evenings as we come closer to the solstice on the night of Sunday, December 20th?
If so, please join me either in person for a socially-distanced outdoor Winter Solstice Gathering or for a Virtual Solstice Gathering on Zoom.