‘Tis the season for drinking too much eggnog, eating too much, and pulling out old family hangover cures.
We’ve just moved past the Winter Solstice, the darkest time of the sun cycle, which happened within hours of the New Moon, the darkest moment of the moon cycle. We are in a season of darkness upon darkness, and it will take some time to start seeing more natural light again.
As human animals, light is an important aspect of our nourishment, like food and breath. I think part of the reason we have so many holiday parties during this time of year is to try to bring some light, even if it’s in the form of tea candles and colourful martinis, to a dark time.
And for many of us, the holidays have a darkness for the heart as well. Not only is it a season that tends to focus on family and love connections, which can be complicated, but it happens cyclically, so old griefs, family patterns, and painful memories can resurface now. These issues are much easier to ignore during the rest of the year, so we often take the holidays to imbibe our courage from artificial light and magic.
It’s deeply important that we feed ourselves now. The nourishment we need, however, may not be in the eggnog. The solstice and the new moon both represent a pause in the cycle, where the sun and moon appear to be still for a moment, neither waxing nor waning. Time stops, in a sense, and we can take the opportunity to take a breath and ask ourselves: “What am I truly hungry for?”
Perhaps you are craving connection, or a creative outlet, or space. Your grandmother’s sugar cookies or an extra hour of sleep. There’s a place in your body that knows what you need. This is a time of increased social expectation and busyness, and it’s the hardest time to stay connected to a routine in terms of yoga practice and mindfulness. Exactly for that reason, however, it’s the most important time for us to slow down and ask ourselves how we are hungry.
I think many of us need much more space than we get--or ask for--during the holidays. I do notice a trend in my yoga classes of people struggling with Savasana during this time. Lying down in the quiet at the end of class, alone with your thoughts, even for five minutes, can be incredibly challenging during an emotionally charged time.
If you can enter into a space of quiet, however, even if it’s just for that five minutes, you can breathe into your belly and feel for what needs nourishing. Your stomach hungers, of course, but so does your heart. So does your gut and your skin and your hands and your mind. From a yoga perspective, your deepest desires live in your low belly, where your second chakra, Svadisthana, lives. Spending some time breathing into this space can give you the opportunity to see what it is you really want and how to feed it.
As you discover your hungers and learn ways to feed them, you are learning tools to be courageous in the dark. So many people make New Year’s Resolutions that have to do with eating or drinking less, taking nourishment away. A better resolution could be to commit to discovering what it is you are truly hungry for, and find sources of true inner light and magic that can feed you to the depths of your soul.