We are beginning our journey out of the dark and into the light as our days are getting longer. This begins our time of rest and reflection. Our dreaming selves are re-ignited. Let’s listen to the cues from Nature and hibernate. Our hibernation may look different, but it will serve the same purpose, to nurture ourselves and help us prepare for the year ahead. We can move slow, sleep lots, eat deeply nourishing (physically, spiritually, and emotionally) foods, spend good quality time with our friends and families, keep our bodies warm and cozy, and really dream ourselves a new year and a new paradigm. This is the time of year that I work really hard to put the brakes on and not overdo it. Though, often it feels like no matter how hard I pull on that brake, I am still skidding along. I do find it helpful to remind myself (almost constantly), what this season would/could/should be without the commercialization. I know that we can each have our own vision of this. For me, it really is a sacred time. It’s a time of quiet and reverence. It is a magical, mystery ride. Where we feel the darkness. It is absorbed in our cells. It is close to consuming us. Yet, we know that the light is returning. Soon.
While it can be overwhelming to be in this darkness, we know that we are only here for a short time. If we didn’t experience this, the light would have little meaning to us. It is through this dark, that our growth occurs. Yes, like Plants, we need light to grow. However, also like the seeds and the roots of Plants, our growth begins in the dark.
I have been thinking a lot about quiet lately (maybe that’s because I have 2 boys in my house). Last year, I did a solitary retreat to Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center near Philadelphia. While there, I was reminded that we each have a different opinion of what quiet is. Most of the people there were from cities. So to them it was a very quiet place. To me, the traffic was so loud. No matter where you live, we all need quiet, yet it is very hard to find. We have planes that fly over head, tractors in neighboring fields, and what I consider to be the worst, the electrical humming of the machines in our house (refrigerator, heating system, etc.). Recently I renewed a practice that I started when my kids were small of driving without the radio. I started this again so that when I drive Liam to school in the morning, he has time to process his dreams and can start the day with his own song, not someone else’s electronic song. (Don’t get me wrong, I love music, but we all know what it is like to have a song stuck in your head.) Long after I would drop him off, I would discover that I did not turn on the radio. I also realized that I too was able to process my dreams and thoughts better without the background noise.
We all need quiet so that we can hear our intuitions and dreams. Yes, sometimes, when we ignore these voices, they will get louder, until we can hear them. (As in the the person with Lyme whose intuition was trying to tell them to slow down, rest, not do so much.) One of the recommendations for ear (and kidney) ailments is to observe silence. Since this is the season of quiet, I suggest we all strive to find a quiet place.
I have been thinking lately about the speed in which we move. The message that I am receiving over and over (I’m guessing many of you have also received, if not you are now!) is to slow down.
Again, this is the time of year where we turn inward. So this is a great time to start slowing.
I know our time on this earth is relatively short and that our society tells us that we should do more and faster. However, I think that we would be happier and healthier if we could slow down, move at our natural pace, digest our thoughts and environment, focus on what we are doing at the time, enjoy our friends and family.
Looking at our society, I realize how unhealthy we are. (Books can and have been written about this.) I simply want to look at our pace. Let’s delve just a little. I was taught that the assembly line is one of the greatest “inventions”. Why, because it allowed us to make things faster! What it also did was locked people inside, where they worked in a very small area, doing repetitive motion every day. (That’s not even mentioning the abuse and deaths that occurred due to poor factory conditions.)
What really got me thinking about this is the speed in which we drive. I know that I am a culprit of this myself. I witnessed someone pass 2 cars and a tractor on a blind hill, presumably so he could get to where he was going faster. Ironically, we were all behind him at the next light. He didn’t get there any faster, though he did risk several lives.
That made me think, why do we have to get there faster? What if we just got there when we got there? Would our lives be any less meaningful? Why do we rush to get from point A to point B, couldn’t we slow down and enjoy the journey between those two points? Maybe if we slow down, magic will happen. At least I find that’s what occurs.
The other part of the issue for me is multi-tasking. Again, multi-tasking is not only accepted now, but expected. When we drive, we talk on the phone (hopefully, not text). When we talk to our friends, we cook dinner. The point of multi-tasking is to do several things as quickly as possible. What ends up happening is that we are not able to focus on any of them and they all become a chore for us (well, hopefully not talking to your friends!).
What I recommend is that we focus on doing one thing at a time. Not only do one thing at a time, but focus. I (like my 94 year old grandma) wash my floors on my knees with a rag. While I’m there, not only am I concentrating on getting the floor clean, but I also find myself going to that slow, quiet place. In other words, I find myself meditating and digesting my recent thoughts and experiences. So when I walk away, I have a clean floor, new insights, and a feeling of peace. When did we ever feel this as we barrel down the highway talking to our friends, dodging the other drivers who are on their cell phones?
Let’s enjoy the journey and take the time to notice the many gifts along the way. Digest our experiences. Move slowly. Only do what we can in a given amount of time. What doesn’t get done, we can do another day. Or maybe not, maybe it doesn’t need to be done. Prioritize. For goodness sake, turn off the cellphones from time to time! (Sorry, pet peeve of mine.) Rest and breathe deeply. Slow.