Soon it will begin—the shopping, the cooking, the entertaining, the parties, the crowded parking lots and lines at the mall. Standing in line to board plans, layovers that turn into long delays. Too much alcohol, sugar, and fat. In my house, too many latkes. The children will be home from school; friends and family visiting from out of town.
Six weeks of whirlwind and then it will be January, the dark month. What happens after the rush, when the relatives go home and your children return to school, when you find yourself alone in an empty house or quiet studio?
Perhaps you will feel the pressure of your New Year’s resolutions. You should get started on something—a new project or an old project or an exercise regiment. But you probably won’t feel like it. January is a dark and quiet month and calls for hibernation. January is the time to get quiet and reconnect to yourself, to your purpose and your values.
How can you prepare for the dark month now?
1) Practice. If you have a regular practice – meditation, writing, drawing, yoga – then you always have a place to return. A therapist I know likens it to secure attachment in children. Like a loving parent, your practice is always waiting for your return. Even if it’s only intermittent, staying with your practice will anchor you and give you a place to touch down in January.
2) Know it’s coming. When the inevitable letdown arrives, you’ll recognize it for what it is and not fight it. You’ll be like the bears, snug in your cave, not rushing into action because everyone else is.
3) Plan for it. Instead of hitting the ground running with those resolutions, schedule time for silence and practice. Make time and space for deep listening for what comes next in the New Year.
this may be the space of most resistance…..fear arises in this untethered and unknowing unreality…..our traditions hold us, yet we benefit greatly from stepping back……how do we remove some of the busyness? some of the need to answer every question? how does gratitude move us out of our ordinary space? may we explore the well of peace this holiday……
November is the month of letting go of what is no longer needed or has fulfilled its purpose, just as trees now release the last season’s leaves. In China, an old proverb speaks to this: “Give away, throw away or move 27 items for nine days and your life will change.” The practice of letting go teaches us about nonattachment. The process of releasing or emptying provides room for new possibilities, opportunities, and blessings to enter our lives. In November we can readily see how much we have to be thankful for compared to our troubles and dissatisfactions. As we extend gratitude for the bounty and goodness that are present in our lives, any pockets of ingratitude that once seemed large in our imaginations become dwarfed- nearly nonexistent. It is important to remember that whatever we need to rectify in our lives is often small in proportion to all the benefits we have extended toward and received from others. All the good intentions, prayers, good deeds, and kind words we have offered others are still with us: they cannot be taken away, and this is a great source of encouragement……Angeles Arrien
The fruit of silence is prayer,
The fruit of prayer is faith,
The fruit of faith is love,
The fruit of love is service,
The fruit of service is peace.