In Neo Pagan tradition, the new moon in December is the “Long Night Moon,” an appropriate name as the days get shorter and it becomes darker earlier in the afternoon. It also signals the time to consider the value of darkness and its place in nature. Though many of us complain about the shorter days upon us, the onset of winter offers us an opportunity to rest, something we must do if we are to be as healthy as we want.
It makes sense that at this time of year, we take time to settle in for the night, enjoying the peace and quiet, seeking stillness amidst the chaos around us. Clearly, with so few hours of daylight, it doesn’t make sense to plan outdoor activities and start new projects. Therefore, it is wisest and completely natural to “come inside” and focus on resting.
Despite the fact that we live in a culture where we have to be constantly producing and moving forward or else people call us lazy, we must pay attention to this season and what it requires During this “long night,” we should try to let go of the misconception that resting is a waste of time. Rather, we should come inside, settle in and be still, understanding and having the faith that our growth requires it.
People often think that being still is “doing nothing.” However, when appropriate, doing nothing is actually doing something very important and critical to living a healthy, balanced life.
Try the sometimes challenging practice of sitting quietly and continuously without getting sucked into the thoughts and stories that will arise-instead, let them float by like passing clouds. The problem for us is that we are no longer comfortable in stillness and seek (like addicts) constant stimulation from outside sources. Simply, we have lost sight of and appreciation for the intrinsic fullness and beauty of nature and our integral place in it. During these short days and long nights, we have the perfect opportunity to recondition our innate ability to reside there.
By cultivating stillness and a state of conscious awareness, we can return to a more authentic way of being. Sitting still and at rest means intentionally letting go of any preoccupation with the future or rumination over the past. As we reacquaint ourselves with the stillness, we return to the moment.
Question: I can’t seem to sit still. I’ve been taught since my youth to keep moving, always being productive. I’m simply uncomfortable with just doing nothing. The only time I can sit still is when I watch TV, but without that stimulation, I feel the need to be doing and accomplishing something. Is something wrong with me?
Answer: Yes, there is something wrong with you – you have lost your natural ability to sit, be quiet and enjoy stillness. Fortunately, with some practice, you can get this skill back…and this is an ideal time of year to get started.
- Honor the shorter days by eating dinner earlier and settling in sooner.
- When it gets dark, turn off your gadgets and any noise – including music – or outside stimulation.
- Sit still in a quiet place.
- Turn down the lights, enjoy the dark, learn to feel and see what is inside.
- Listen to the earth around you – the sounds of your creaking house, the heat coming on and off, the wind outside, the occasional bird or traffic sound, your beating heart and breath.
Tell us how you cultivate stillness…