The Gift of Darkness


Buddha in snow at Sky Meadow Retreat

The holiday celebrations are almost over and now the light is returning with days gradually getting longer.  However, we are still in the darkest time of year with most of winter still ahead. 

This is the time to take care of yourself. Treat yourself kindly, pay attention to your heart, and nourish the light within you.

We pack December with comforts to get us through the darkest time of year, and often go to excess to bring forth the light in our lives at the darkest time.  Now, you have to learn to sustain that light when the party’s over.

Many of our holiday celebrations involve drinking too much alcohol, eating too much food, indulging in sugar and entertainment, and surrounding ourselves with people. None of these are bad, however, they don’t  solve the problem of the emptiness you feel inside, which seems to get worse in the dark and cold of winter.

We all shiver at the looming darkness and are afraid of it consuming us. And the parties of the holidays don’t really deal with this in the long run. What can help you now is to recognize the gift of the darkness.

In a time of darkness you have to find the light inside you. The long nights, short days, and cold weather compel you to nourish the warm glow inside your heart. See if you can feel this glow, and learn how to gently sustain it.

Being happy is different from being excited or anticipating some magical inspiration like Christmas or the winter holidays.  The indulgences of this season override the anxiety we all feel more acutely in winter, but in the end can leave you feeling more depressed and discouraged. 

Now is the time to cultivate contentment. Find simple things in your life now that you are grateful for, and pay attention to them so they grow. Let go of the habit of anticipation and be present with yourself now.  Notice the sadness or grief you are feeling, as well as the joy and excitement.  Being with darkness without avoiding it or dressing it up makes you more real. 

This is a good time to establish or bolster habits that nourish you such as healthy eating, getting outside to exercise, doing yoga, and meditating.  Spend a short time each day to just be with your body breathing in relaxed silence. Notice where you are tight, and soften. Notice your emotions and just be with them. Practice letting go of the stories that make you anxious or afraid. 

In the excitement of giving and receiving gifts you may have noticed that no one really gave you what you most wanted.  This is because what you most need has to come from yourself. Self nourishment is your gift to yourself this season. No one else can give it to you the way you can.  No one else really knows what you need and what makes you content. You have to find that out for yourself. And now is the time to do that.


#meditation

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© 2023 by Miles Sherts & Practical Presence