Gentle Night

Opening the door to the darkest season.
Opening the door to the darkest season.

Once again we approach a marker on the change of seasons. The Winter Solstice, the beginning of winter, comes with the longest night of the year, the darkest point of the calendar.

Hidden as this passage is within the hectic build-up to the Christmas season, we tend to over look it and only see winter’s approach as the coming of cold, snow and darkness. In a culture that celebrates warmth, activity and ever more light, one that insulates us from much of the impact of the seasons, the traditions that celebrated these changes can seem passe and of no use. And yet, if we pay attention we can learn much about our own process through times of darkness.

Chinese medicine encourages us to look at this time of darkness as a time to gather in energy, to store our resources and consider carefully whether we have what we need to get through the winter season to come. With that examination can come fear: the emotion of winter when it is out of balance.

If we face that fear, examining our doubts of whether we have enough, we can then make adjustments to enable us to journey through this season with hope. We can slow down, cut out some activities that no longer serve our greater good. We can reach out for nourishment and support – asking for help to make it through the tough spots. We can use the times of darkness to rest and restore, remembering the final lesson of the Solstice: when darkness has reached it’s nadir the only way left to go is back up to the light.

The paradox of the beginning of winter is that it is the beginning of the light building towards summer. From this day forward the nights become shorter, the days longer. So while we journey through darkness, we journey each moment on towards more light.

Take a moment then, to savor the quiet, the darkness, the emptiness of winter and gather into yourself the resources that enable your journey through your life towards greater health, well-being and happiness.