In less that 2 weeks time, we hit the darkest day of the year.
It is a time when all of the creatures of the world (except most of the human ones) quieten down and go in.
The sparkling dark expands into all the crannies, cracks and corners.
Light gathers inwards; it heads indoors; buries itself away.
I find the will to continue working naturally departs from my body at about 3.30pm when the sun also gives up its quest for the day.
And I want to be done with work.
But reality and getting bread on the table prevents it.
The way we habitually work isn't built to support this inclination, so I push through and continue - sometimes late into the night.
I feel slower in the morning for it.
Late night workings - although in some ways seductive - feel like the opposite of what this time is asking of my biology.
One thing I have started to practice to attempt to redress this de-naturing pattern of ours, is to block out three weeks in my diary from the winter solstice to the second week of January.
To quieten everything down.
This is not with the idea of stopping work entirely.
It isn't a holiday. I am not doing nothing.
But I go inwards for a bit.
See very few friends.
Make space in myself for the family Christmas thing, (which always takes a bit...) and clear a lot of space around it.
Then let myself go fully inwards, back and down - even underneath - to do the work that needs to be done there.
Dreaming, Sleeping, Reparing. Composting. Envisioning. Writing. Reading. Researching,
Identifying the need for this circuit breaker in the year, was an incremental thing.
I have England to thank for it.
I used to suffer S.A.D for my first 10 years in this country - a seasonal depression that only seemed to be alleviated by getting out of here.
It didn't need to be far.
It wasn't about warmth or sunshine, but rather, seemed to be about getting - literally - a bit more light bouncing off the retina and a bit of space between the top of my head and the sky.
For example one year I went to Iceland, which was bitterly cold and even darker than here. But there was light bouncing around off the snow for the few quiet hours of delicate day light and on most days there were high skies. It was vertiginously expensive and I spent the rest of the year paying back the bank for it, but I loved it. It did wonders for my mental health.
But clearly doing such an expensive 'adjustment' wasn't always practical. So how could i cultivate a sustainable way of being with the British Winter with out lapsing into seasonal depression?
So i began to experiment with winter solstice rituals, and cultivating a kind of hibernation phase, like my body was asking of me.
It has taken many years to get here - to the place where I am really insisting on taking the time for it. Financially, it has always been challenging, not earning for that time... and as a self employed person, that can be hair raising! But i find when I am very inwards, I don't spend much money anyway. I don't need much. I rarely go out. I need less food. I stay in. Way in.
Within within within.
And it is part why I'm working crazy hours now and for the next few weeks: literally earning myself the luxury of being able to 'down worldly tools' for these precious three weeks in the darkest time.
I appreciate not everyone gets the luxury of choosing this. We live in a reality that is dominated by capitalism and Industry - which is what it is. Some of us have jobs that really limit our choiceful-ness with how we use our time. (Don't get me started on this one - It's a whole other blog!)
So, if this describes your situation, but you find your self chiming with some of what I'm expressing here, then a useful question to ask might be something like: What might be a few small things you could do to turn things down a notch or two and create some space for yourself in the winter time?
Might you fancy for example,
If winter was as an undoing practice or even a death rehearsal,
what might you do to create some space inside yourself for it?
How might you quieten things down a bit; just a little bit?
And let go?
How might you surrender, even a little bit, to the invitation of the Great Big Planetary Yin?
Fire Image by Wren Meinberg
writings on states of being, being in a body and being human.