Maybe you overindulged during the holidays, and you feel heavy, bloated, lethargic, and your inner voice is screaming at you to get to the gym and start exercising.
It's cold outside, and for some of you, the earth is covered in snow and ice, and when you venture out of the house, it's to run to your car. This feeling of emptiness, of bone-chilling cold, of feeling slow and run down is your body's natural response to the season of Winter. Shortened days, dark long nights and cold signal your body to cuddle in someplace warm, create a little nest for yourself and allow your body to rest. It's now time for the soul to journey within to honor this last season of the year, the season of death, endings, clearing and releasing.
It can be a very painful time for many, and if you don't know that this is an ancient natural part of our body's rhythm, it can be very scary. This is the time of year that depression rises, colds, flu and sickness take center stage, and for some, a feeling of loss so deep, their only way to handle it is through self-abuse; stuffing themselves with food to dull the pain and fear, numbing the emptiness with alcohol or drugs, or worse, ending their own life with suicide.
In ancient times, before we became so disconnected from the natural rhythm of the earth, indigenous peoples created celebrations and rituals to honor each phase of the planet's ebb and flow. This is how our current celebration of Christmas came to be during this time.
Ancient earth-based spiritual practices honored this time of year with feasts, knowing the dark long cold nights had to come in order for the earth to rebirth herself in the spring time with an abundance of crops and harvests. They took this time of year to clear out what was left of the past year, and to honor and grieve the passing of the sun and warmth, and the death of their crops. Allowing their bodies to slow down, they stayed inside and told stories, slept alot and just allowed their bodies to heal, rest and renew, much as the earth was doing.
In modern times, we don't have to worry about feeding ourselves; we just have to jump in the car and make a trip to the grocery store. But our bodies still organically respond to this time of the year by slowing down, getting sleepy easily, and releasing grief and pain for all we wanted to get done this past year but didn't. As you look back over the year, maybe you finished a project that had been center stage in your life for many months. Maybe you moved, or changed jobs or ended a relationship. Did you take time to honor the end of the cycle then? Did you take time to mourn and grieve the completion of something, or celebrate the attainment of something long desired? The feelings of emptiness inside us are normal and until you recognize this and honor it as an ending, you will continue to feel sad, empty and disoriented.
When we don't honor the end of a cycle, like the ancients did, it builds up in our body. The acceleration of sickness this time of year is our body's way of telling us we haven't properly celebrated the end of a cycle by slowing down and journeying with in. Closing down and resting, healing and releasing the end of the holiday season is Winter's gift to us, and we can avoid much sickness and pain if we allow ourselves to honor this time for what it is. As the moon continues to wane for the next 5 days, it is our signal to close down, go with in and let go of what ever you are done with.
I have been clearing out old inventory from my business. There were products I had created years ago, but was still holding onto, hoping there would be some renewed interest and sales. But hanging onto these old creations has kept me stuck in the past, unable to move forward because there was no room energetically to create something new. In a fit of frustration, I finally decided to just donate this stuff and get it off my books. Making that decision felt great, and I felt a wave of lightness roll into my heart. As I watched the bags and boxes being hauled away by the donation truck, I felt an overwhelming sense of grief bubbling up in my solar plexus (the center of our 3rd chakra which regulates our feelings of owning our power and control of our lives).
I was a little surprised to feel so sad, but instead of pushing it down and ignoring it and getting back to work, I snuggled into my jammies and lit a candle and put on some soft music so I could sit with the feeling for a while. What was this deep feeling of sadness and grief I was feeling, and why now? I'd been clearing all year, getting rid of stuff, making room in my life for whatever was next. What I hadn't done was allow my body and soul to feel that loss and to honor it. Even though it was a voluntary choice to let go of this stuff, it still was the end of this cycle of my creative life. It represented an expense of creative energy and emotions, financial loss and disappointment as well.
I knew instinctively I needed to mourn this ending, to celebrate this part of my life and the death of this creative cycle. I allowed the tears to come and I cried like a baby, just letting it all out. My hopes and dreams that didn't come to pass, the clearing out and donating of these items that represented my creative energy, my sense of control over my life, all that stuff, gone now. I noticed behind the grief there was some anger simmering, and I saw I was angry at myself for wasting money and my creative talents on something that didn't turn out the way i wanted it to. I let myself feel the anger and know that too was part of the healing. So I made a mistake. So I created something that didn't get the public response I had hoped for. Oh well, shit happens. It's not the end of my world, just the end of that creative cycle, and now it's time to thank it for the lessons I learned and let it go.
I am fortunate. I got to chose to voluntarily end this cycle of my business. For those who have experienced loss through the power of nature, such as a fire or in the case of Hurricane Sandy, a flood, still need to mourn, even more so because this loss was forced upon them.
But even if you haven't experienced any overt loss, you still need to mourn for the end of 2012 and whatever it was you didn't complete.
Take the next few days to look back on this past year. Journey with in and ask your soul what cycle has ended, what task wasn't completed, what part of yourself do you need to grieve and let go of so you can be clear and ready for what's coming in this new year? Whatever you discover, create a celebration around it and honor it for the lessons you've received through it. Be gentle and loving with your body and pamper it with warm soft clothing, nourishing satisfying food, plenty of sleep and gentle movement, like yoga or tai chi. Maybe light a candle and say a prayer of thanks while you play some music you really love.
Plants go dormant this time of year, and do not actively put out new growth. However, beneath the surface, their roots are stretching out and moving deeper into the soil, reaching for new sources of sustenance, growing and changing, getting ready for the spring. This winter of the soul is the perfect time to rest, and restore yourself, allow your roots to go deeper much as the earth is doing now as well.