|A Solstice Message from Betsy
Last night was the longest one of the year – 15 hours of darkness where I live.
In this time where there is far less light, our potential for transformation is most potent. Did you know that for children, all growth happens in the dark. They grow not in the light of day but in the hours they are sleeping.
Have you considered that this time of year has great potential for your own inner growth? And just like a child’s physical growth, our growth is happening “in the dark”, under the surface of our conscious mind.
Unlike the growth of the the physical body of a child, the growth of soul requires consciousness. To really use this powerful time of dark for soul growth, we have to stay committed to our inner work.
The yoga tradition teaches that the biggest obstacle to our transformation is our unconsciousness. Another way to say this is when we are detached, numbed out, speeding through life, and so caught up in the external happenings of the world that we don’t find time to listen or attend to our inner life, we slow down our own evolution.
How do we stay awake during these dark days…instead of numbing out and slumbering our time away? How do we actually feel and observe what is stirring in ourselves rather than reach for another Christmas cookie or glass of wine?
Pema Chodron teaches about 4 qualities that are key to waking up.
- Stabilize your mind. We are all highly distractible, with a strong inclination to check out. And yet, our minds also have great capacity to be present, and follow what is unfolding before us, moment by moment. Certainly practices like meditation, breath work, and yoga strengthen our capacity to stay more present, but we all have this capacity to attend to the moment. Pause, and follow your breath in and your breath out. It can be this simple.
- Make friends with yourself. We are all highly critical and judgmental of ourselves. We see in ourself qualities we don’t like, and if we are willing to dig deeper and see the roots of our addiction, or jealousy, or pettiness, we begin to understand the deep suffering underneath it. Pema’s advice: Don’t reject what you see in yourself, embrace it instead. It is likely your greatest teacher.
- Be free from fixed mind. A fixed mind is set, inflexible, controlling, and closed down to new ideas. It also tends to be connected to trauma or crisis; when we have been through something really hard our mind becomes more fixed as a way to manage what felt uncontrollable. One of the things that has helped me most with my fixed mind is the practice of curiosity. Life is so expansive, mysterious, and awe inspiring (and also uncontrollable, scary, and unpredictable). But when we bring curiosity to what is unfolding rather than anxiety and control, the experience becomes more rich and enjoyable.
- Take care of others. This one speaks for itself.
Use these dark days to stay awake for your inner grow. Watch it with curiosity. Drop into the present moment as often as you can. Find compassion, for yourself and others.
And take hope….the light is slowly returning as of today!