As we emerge from the collective darkness of the northern hemisphere and begin to usher in the increasing light, I am inspired to ponder the significance of it all. The time leading up to the Winter Solstice is a time of deep inner reflection, which can sometimes be uncomfortable as it stirs up feelings and emotions we may have long ago attempted to conceal. Although the journey into our dark regions seems disagreeable at best and painful at worst, it is here, in the depths of our uncovering, that the most precious gifts are offered that can assist us and lead us back into the light.
So often we, as a society, shy away from the unpleasant feelings, the unnerving itch that grabs for our attention as we continue to try to ignore it or deny it. I learned a while back that the only way out of these tumultuous emotions is to go right through them. You may have heard this before and there is a cute analogy I use to explain this to my son ~ you are a train and your emotions are the tunnel. Surely you can figure out how to get to the other side, can’t you? But what does going through the tunnel actually look like and what are the steps we can take when we’re in the middle of it? I have had countless opportunities to practice leaning into my darker emotions. There were nights, more often than I care to admit, when my fear was so strong that I literally thought I wouldn’t see the dawn of morning.
The process is real. For me, it starts with trust. Trust in myself, my strengths, my ability to figure things out, and to be my own hero when I need to be. Trust in a Higher Power that takes care of its creation; that provides, supports and nurtures us even through the hard times. A crucial step is to continue breathing. Be aware of every breath and give extra care to inhale and exhale deeply. Stay grounded by touching or moving your body. Be in tune with your heartbeat, even if it is erratic. The next step is to lean in, stop resisting the negative emotion, whether it be anger, fear, heartache, grief, pain, sadness or any other feeling from the spectrum of less than good things we can and do feel. Allow it to have a voice! Give it permission to be expressed. Be curious. See where it takes you. Find a safe avenue in which to release it. I’ve screamed at the top of my lungs in the car, sobbed in the shower, and held myself tight while trembling quietly in a corner of my room on numerous occasions. Yes, it was uncomfortable. Yes, it was hard. Yes, I didn’t know how or if I would ever move through. But somehow I always did. And what I found is that on the other side, the world looked brighter, there was a bit of hope, a flicker of knowing that things are going to improve and that I am going to be alright.
Our lives and our emotional states take on the rhythm of our breathing cycle, the very one that sustains us through every moment of every day without our even having to focus on it. Every inhalation is followed by an exhalation. Every expansion in life is followed by a contraction. Naturally, the larger the expansion, the larger the contraction. If we understand this on a visceral level then we can learn to not only accept the downs that inevitably follow the ups, but to also anticipate them. More importantly we can better prepare ourselves to move through the lows quicker and with less effort which will accelerate the time in between experiencing the highs.
During this season of sleeping longer, staying indoors more and being less active, we are being given a chance to collectively retreat within. Don’t be afraid of what you find there. Have the courage to face it head on! You will uncover the gem that lies within, that nugget of gold that you never know you had, the jewel of valor that is yours for the taking. This is an ideal time to take a step back and reassess the year that has just passed and plan ahead for the year to come. Use the energies and seize this opportunity for reflection to strengthen your foundation so that 2018 can truly be your year to soar!