Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Resting and growing

Winter—quiet, slow, long-night winter—is a season of stillness. If you go for a walk in nature at this time of year, things are so quieted down you may find your ears leaning in to readjust. But the sounds are still there, all the same. I went walking in the English countryside this week, and felt that there was something so special about being able to hear the small sounds; a little rustling, wings flapping, the gurgle of a stream whirling around stones.

I've talked before about the idea of nature "going under" in winter, and the need for us humans to take internal journeys in winter. The natural quietness and solitude of the season are conducive to burrowing down, shining a light in the dark, exploring hidden places. (You can listen to the song "Hidden Place" by Bjork here; the whole Vespertine album feels very wintery to me.)

Along these lines, I was inspired to read what my friend, the artist and yoga teacher Keely Angel writes on the idea of dormancy. We may normally associate the idea of dormancy with being idle, or perhaps bored or somehow stale. Keely says:

"Dormancy is not a stagnant state. It is a time to recharge, review, recalibrate, release, rebuild. Reintegrate, reaffirm, reestablish, reweave, and reawaken."

I like this idea very much; the sense of returning to a seed state and resting in the confidence that germination will occur in due course. Time lapse videos of plants growing (like the amazing Secret Lives of Plants) are filmed over hours, months, years—because natural growth is incremental. Even a sudden-seeming blooming follows a period of slow, steady growth and stem-strengthening. So, while we're under the soil we can take the time to rest and digest, and consider what conditions are going to be most healthy for us in the coming seasons.

There is a feeling, certainly in cities, that the new year is a great big Kaboom! of a time. But it can be hard to reflect and get in touch with your center—with the deep wisdom of the heart—when the volume is turned up super-loud. I think there's also room for a little stillness; to allow for this turning of the wheel to feel meaningful and full of opportunity and promise. It's a good time to let go of what doesn't serve or nourish you, and invite in what does feel good and right to you.

Making the time to rest and just listen may stand you in good stead to do this; whether that's taking a walk outside somewhere quiet, taking supported suptabadakonasana (goddess pose) for twenty minutes and tuning into what's going on inside, or just taking a nap.

Winter can, I think, be a little like taking savasana at the end of a yoga class. As one of my teachers says, You've done the work, now let the work do you. You have done the work of a year, of the seasons; now you can let that work do you.

So, enjoy, enjoy. May any letting go feel like a release and a relief. And may your wishes for the new year come true and sprout blooms so beautiful you couldn't possibly have imagined them. With much love.

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