Let’s be honest here. Usually, I view the winter months on the calendar with a bit of dread.
Wait, no, it’s a lot of dread and I know I’m not alone. Complaints can pile up easily: I don’t enjoy the winter weather, my body is fighting hard to stay warm, it’s difficult to be outside and it gets dark so early. Flu and cold viruses are floating around like plagues. There isn’t much foliage on the trees. Many animals hibernate and birds fly south to escape. It’s an easy time to be grumpy, irritable and downright miserable. They don’t call ‘em the winter blues for nothing.
Difficult times can hit year-round. However, I have been witness to many heavy hearts in the past few months. There is a shifting energy and it is intense. I believe this suffering is evident of an awakening into a new way of living. Many people blame this discomfort on troubles in relationships, jobs, illness, financial strain. While these external troubles undoubtedly exist, I’m noticing that more of the discomfort that we feel is internal. We don’t feel like ourselves. There’s a sense of loss. We feel off track—our train has been derailed and we don’t quite know why. We feel lack of an intangible quality that we can’t quite explain. Joy? Direction? Bliss? Purpose? Maybe. On a deeper level, I think it’s less about the labels of our problems and more about the internal energy behind them. This year feels different and it isn’t pleasant right now. Period.
In light of this internal turmoil that appears more ubiquitous than the flu, and thanks to my innate problem solver conditioning, I find myself reaching for solutions to conquer the winter blues this year. As with most things, I eventually wave my white flag and realize that it’s not about conquering or beating the sad, grumpy, irritation out of the situation, it’s about using the messages the winter sends, to wholeheartedly surrender to the darkness of these days. Therein lies the awakening and the healing. What we resist persists, and the more we dread the winter blues, the scarier it becomes. Let’s surrender to the season and play with its healing properties. If we align with the properties and purpose of the winter solstice, the surrender will help us heal our internal misery and awaken to our true selves.
What does the winter solstice really mean? Scientifically, it is the date of the year on which there is the least amount of sunlight. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, it is the 21st of December. For the southern hemisphere, it is the 21st of June. Well, it’s no surprise that my knee-jerk reaction to the “darkest day of the year” is dread. However, this year, I am reminding myself that for the next six months, there is increasingly more light and less darkness in each day. What? Did I hear the light bulb go off in your brain too? There’s more light and less darkness every day. Brilliant! Mother Nature’s natural cycle is amazing! Yes, it is still cold out. Yes, the snow and ice make being outdoors inconvenient. But think about it—starting tomorrow, light starts to win. Darkness surrenders. This is a powerful, powerful energy. On the winter solstice, a shift happens. I’ll say it again—more light every day.
By reminding ourselves that we are a part of Mother Nature, we can easily open to bringing more light into our own lives as well. Simultaneously, we can surrender to the large amount of darkness still present (the darkness has as much purpose as the light) and note that everything has its natural cycle. As lost and troubled as we may feel right now, we are never truly stuck. Energy is always moving, albeit slowly at times. It would be so easy if we could say, “Great! There’s more light! I’m happy now!” However, just like it will be 3 plus months until the trees regain their leaves, the energies of renewal inside us will take time to flourish. We must be patient. Surrender. Welcome the darkness as well as the light. Eat nourishing, seasonal foods from the earth. Sleep. Dream. Heal.
In fact, Native Americans used to sleep the entire day of the winter solstice in order to dive further into the darkness of their unconscious. Comparably, Celtic traditions had people dancing on mountaintops through the night in celebration of bringing a little more light into the world. These are both wonderful ways to honor the tension between light and dark on this day. It’s an understatement that native cultures were more in tune with the ways of Mother Earth than we are today, but that doesn’t mean we have to forget that we, too, are a part of the Earth and connected to the universal life and death cycles.
One thing is certain, there will always be daytime and there will always be nighttime, no matter the season. Mother Earth knows she needs every last drop of sun and moon to efficiently run her miraculous system. The cycle works and it’s inevitable. There will always be lightness and darkness inside and outside of us. By letting go of our resistance to the winter blues, we can align with the healing cycles that are part of our larger intelligence.
Before you reach for a bottle of antidepressants or a glass of wine to chase away the winter blues, stop and ask what this time of year can teach you. How can you notice the increasing amount of light through these grey months? How can you celebrate the darkness? How can you honor your experience, no matter how light or dark, with loving care, good food and gratitude for the true warmth in our hearts?
It’s my belief that Mother Nature’s intelligence is within all of us; we just forget to align with it. Let’s return to the intelligence of our larger source in order to heal in miraculous ways.
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Editor: Karla Rodas
Photo: elephant library