Archive for January 14th, 2014

Winter holidays have come and gone, and many of us are left feeling like the months of January and February must simply be gotten through until the warmth of spring returns.

As an introvert and someone who enjoys curling up with a good book, I’ve never really felt this way. But a lot of people have a difficult time once the hubbub of the holidays is past. Regardless of one’s personality, this time of year shouldn’t be overlooked or simply gotten through – it’s a key time for introspection, spiritual work, and clearing the way for future action.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com

Years ago, I researched Yule traditions for a study focused on the wheel of the year. Along the way, I found that I’m not the only one that finds this season so potent. In the liner notes of his luminous album If on a Winter’s Night, artist Sting says:

“. . . there is something of the Winter that is primal, mysterious and utterly irreplaceable, something both bleak and profoundly beautiful, something essential to the myth of ourselves, the story of our humanity, as if we somehow need the darkness of the winter months to replenish our inner spirits as much as we need the light, energy, and warmth of the summer.”

Waverly Fitzgerald of the School of the Seasons adds that while we often represent the cycle of dark and light as a battle, we do understand that both sides of the battle are important. She recommends taking time in this season to just sit in the dark and quiet.

“Honor the dark before calling in the light. This is the season when animals hibernate and nature sleeps and we can turn inward too . . . . This is a natural time for letting go and saying farewell. Release your resentments and regrets into the darkness, knowing they will be transformed.

Fitzgerald’s advice really hits home, as it is difficult to be introspective and to eventually move forward when we hold on to anger, guilt, and old wounds. This is hard stuff, to be sure. Sometimes we use these things to energize our actions or, worse, we start to build our identity around them. It is easy to resist this process of letting go when you feel like it’s taking away a part of you.

Frankly, I have no sage advice for accomplishing this. In my experience, I had to simply decide that anger was no longer going to rule and come to peace with the past hurts. Spiritual work came much easier after this point, though I admit to having to revisit this lesson from time to time. It helps if we can realize that when we let go of the things holding us back, other things will eventually take their place – and often more wonderful things than what we could have imagined.

After achieving this, it helps to maintain a centered and calm state of mind and to try to understand why things have happened in the past (to avoid a repeat performance). Meditation and journaling are good tools for this and often seem more fruitful during this dark season. And, as luck would have it, there are many ways to do both of these. Meditation can be difficult if you are new to it, but there are many recorded meditations available and some of you may even have an alternative healing practitioner or center that offers guidance with this. Of course, there are more traditional forms of meditation, such as mindfulness or serenity meditations. However, guided imagery or relaxation meditations can be easier to start with for many people.

As for journaling, a lot of people are turned off by traditional pen and paper journaling. But there is no reason not to use a laptop or ever an audio recorder. Some people even make their journal into a blog, choosing to make a more public statement with their thoughts and searching.

Whatever methods you use to look within and prepare for a spiritual spring emergence (and I would love to hear how any of you go about this), I hope we all take some time to look within during the remaining weeks of winter. After all, clarity, understanding, and peace are valuable things that seem more readily found within the stillness of winter. And perhaps the point of being in winter’s dark and cold is finding the light and warmth within ourselves.

Bright blessings,

Thistle

 

© 2014 PJ Graham

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