As the wheel of the year turns through its darkest phase the mammalian instinct within us is drawing us deeper into the sacred darkness; the nest of duvets, the log fire; the hibernation. At the same time the year is accelerating towards Christmas, drawing us into the flow of organising, shopping and socialising. The clamour of Christmas has at times a real desperation about it; clawing at things that are light, sparkly and full of the promise of joy; at times hollow, empty, unfulfilling.
We are overwhelmed. The profound rest that comes from drinking in the deep darkness as a restorative and healing space is lost. We are not really resting. We are running on adrenaline.
And what are we running from? Or indeed racing to reach? What happens if we just stop. Just stop.
What happens if we do nothing? Just stop.
Even if just as you read this – take a long loooooong deep breath and for a second, stop.
The invitation is into “self care” – not just a massage scheduled into your busy diary, or a hot bath on your own (yes, these things are important) – self care is a way of living; attending in the moment, moment by moment to what is self love and what is self harm?
What is sustainable? What is finite?
And as we enter the festive season with all its extroverted pull and push; make space for the introvert in you to lead on occasion; wrap yourself up in silence and darkness and breathe the darkness into your being so that you may most fully rest.
For some of us, of course, this festive season is a time where our losses feel magnified. More than would wish to admit it would say that this is what lies beneath our busyness: grief. And when we stop we feel this sadness and sorrow, of course we do.
This time of darkness, midwinter, is a natural offering by Nature to take time with your losses. Light a candle in the darkness for your ancestors and all those who have died and all that has changed and been lost in your life this year. Take stock.
The alternative to doing this is to rush and race through another hectic christmas only for New Year 2018 to be the “best year yet!” and the frantic treadmill continues. I wouldn’t mind betting that some time out, some deep rest, some sustained self care… will deepen and enrich the festive experience rather than dampen it. Such is the irony.
For me, part of my self care is realising that my losses early in life left me in deficit as I hit adulthood – my lack of self care was a kind of debt that I scrambled to repay but never broke into the Black. True self care has been for me to acknowledge that I, like so many in grief, have run the marathon just be at the starting line with other people in life. No wonder “life” itself always seemed overwhelming.
The awareness of that deficit is the key to transforming the loss into a gift. The grief transforms into an expanded compassion and capacity to be with others in grief.
This is part of the Work. To reframe grief and sadness as something to be embraced, integrated and transformed. An ongoing work, of course, but the height of summer hardly seems conducive… the time is now, stop and go deep. Trust that the spring will come. It’s always darkest before the dawn.