Today we stopped saving daylight. We have set our clocks back. We have officially entered the dark season. We have surrendered, but have we embraced the dark?
The day we stop saving light and turn back our clocks is my least favorite day of the entire year. My body and heart rebel against it. I surrender because I have to, because the calendar, and well, the tilt and rotation of the earth compels me, requires me, to do so. I am a lover of sun, of sunlight. The sun wakes me up on the inside, it fills me with energy, it lifts my spirit. When the sun comes out, my heart brightens, I brighten. Each emergence of the sun is a hallelujah moment for me. The bigger the emergence, like after days and days of cloudy, stormy weather, the bigger my hallelujah moment.
We are now in the dark season. We have been creeping into this dark season for a while. The sun has been leaving us earlier and earlier every day and for those of us in the Pacific Northwest (and no doubt many other places), this time of year is even darker because the thick grey clouds of fall roll in and obscure our sun and our light.
The lack of sunlight in our lives is an external experience with a very real internal impact. When the earth rotates and tilts away from the sun, as we are now experiencing in the northern hemisphere, the light and warmth of the sun moves away from our external landscape. When the sun moves farther away from us, our internal landscape is also depleted of this energizing light. With the absence of the sun in our daily lives, many of us feel less light, less of that bright shining feeling, and more darkness on the inside.
During the shift from summer into fall, I began to feel darkness creep into my internal landscape. My heart and my body felt heavier. I felt a rise of sadness and hopelessness. I felt frustrated with the trajectory of my life and the lack of development and movement forward in a place where I am so ready for new growth to emerge. I wrestled with an “I give up” feeling. A scary thought began to form in my mind along the lines of, “what’s the point?,” as in, “what is the point to living?” Fortunately my awareness of my mental processes and emotional experiences is quite keen and I was able to put the brakes on the formation of this thought.
The rising thought, “what’s the point?,” was a “whoa” moment, a wake up moment. I was quite aware that this thought can lead to some very scary places and I have no interest in visiting these frightening places. I made an intentional choice to pause and redirect my thoughts and feelings. I was motivated to do this first, because I recognized the scary nature of my thought and second, because I do not want to allow my brain and my emotions to wire themselves into chronic depressive thought patterns. It took a bit of effort to redirect. I had to search within myself for a spark to keep the hope alive, to not give up, but instead continue to believe that what I am wanting most in my life will unfold and grow.
Reflecting back on my inner search for a spark of hope, the image of light, of fire, grew inside of me. The search I did within my inner landscape was much like looking for and gathering wood from the forest floor to make a campfire. When faced with the “I give up” feeling, I needed renewed hope to keep my fire burning. I found it by digging around within myself, turning over some leaves and discovering a piece of nice, dry wood. I threw it on the waning fire and a big flame shot up. Whew. Crisis averted. I kept the wolves, those scary thoughts and depressing feelings, at bay. This time I was able to find fuel fairly quickly and “save” my fire. Keeping one’s light bright and one’s fire burning is not always this easy. This time I found my way out of the dark rather quickly. This time…
My metaphorical search for fuel to keep my inner fire burning and radiating led me to contemplate light. I pondered: What is the fuel that keeps our light shining, our fire burning? My fuel is drawn from hope, faith, optimism, devotion, insight, and my belief in love. I re(source) my fuel, which is vital to sustaining my light, from nature, learning and discovery, my yoga practice and spiritual journey, inspiration, new experiences and adventures, connection with others, and giving of myself in ways that uplift and support those around me. And I recognize that my strongest and deepest fuel source is an innate desire and will to not only survive, but to thrive.
I imagine each person fuels and (re)sources their light via different pathways. However, I am going to guess that elements of our inner fuel and (re)sources are universal. I suspect folks universally draw fuel from hope, love, faith, and devotion. I also suspect most folks re(source) from nature, love, and spirituality, each of which are so vital to sustaining one’s inner light. And not just unique to me, but to all of us, is an instinct to survive. I believe this instinct, which resides within each of us, will always help us to discover the light in the dark.
After my initial “escape,” I decided to stay with the darkness for a while. Adopting a mindset that Pema Chödrön speaks of so often, I became curious about the darkness that was permeating my inner landscape. Instead of running away from the dark by trying to find light as quickly as possible, what would happen if I stayed and embraced the darkness? Staying led me to contemplate my inner light. Staying allowed me to become more intimate with how I fuel and (re)source my inner light. I came away with this insight: when we stay with the darkness and remain open to our experience, we will discover the light.
I was and remain inspired to stay present with the darkness by this quote, which came through a friend of a friend. “When it gets really dark, you can see the stars.”