In ancient times, we have been much more governed by the natural ebb and flow of daylight, moon cycles, and the flow of the seasons.
Our internal hormonal patterns have long reflected a sensitivity to such patterns. Gearing us up in the morning, sustaining us through the day, only to lower us again into the coming evening and the complete rest of the night. And the bigger seasonal changes have the same four stages - accompanied by hormonal fluctuations that encourage and enforce those stages of the cycle.
We ignore them at our peril
Electric lights, TVs and now internet devices have interfered with our daily clock - moderating the delicate balance of hormones that determine a sense of tiredness and closure.
Central heating has our bodies, living in tropical temperatures year-round.
And the working week has us pandering to deadlines, alarm clocks and mortgages.
A very different world.
But not for the body
Our physical body still has the same needs it always had, along with all the other animals we share a lineage with. As well as the active side of life; the busy, the exercise, and the challenges of doing, our needs also include rest - plentiful sleep & appropriate, seasonally varied nutrition.
The Winter of Discontent
Culturally we hide from these darker, colder, months, struggling through until the spring we long for so much, or flying away to catch a glimpse of the sun (at huge planetary expense).
Depressions rise in the winter, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD !) is now a fully recognised hormonal phenomenon... but it is not the fault of the sun, or the clouds, or the rain. It is a choice that we are making in our daily do.
Everything about our biology is gently suggesting that this season is different, and if we ignore the downtime it is encouraging, we create internal conflicts that need not be there.
We can try many things to mask these effects - trips to sun, light boxes, heavy exercise, vitamin injections, counselling, but they are only sticking plasters.
We can allow the modern culture to press us up against its schedule, exhaust ourselves in pretending that we 'should' be able to perform at top speed all year round...
We can increase the temperature and the spiciness of our foods, adjust our heating, watch stimulating movies...
But the only real solution is to go with the energies...
The Glory of Rest
Rather than attempting to smooth over the natural lull in energy at this time of year, how about we listen to it... Instead of pushing on through to the other side, we might feel better if we follow its lead.
It is a season of rest, of darkness, of hibernation, of introspection, of taking stock, of consolidating, and of gathering our energy for what comes next.
Ancient cultures that have this seasonality, recognise the pattern that all life follows at this time. The trees are dormant, the big mammals are absent, and a great stillness falls across the land.
Gather yourselves my friends.
Take the time to vision how you want your year to be.
Dream in that which you want for yourself and your loved ones.
For there is a time of rapid action coming - but we are still in the calm before the storm, the rest before the race, the lull before the lift.
As the spring approaches, we will have the time to detail our plans, to add flesh to the bones of our dreams, and create strategies for how to get what we long for.
But first we must be really clear on what it is that we want.
And that is at the heart of this season
Dreaming is not time wasted, it the best possible use of the seasonal downtime.
Wasteful would be battling against the bigger energies that affect us.
Wasteful would be doing what it is difficult to do now, rather than resting for now, and doing it when it is easier.
Wasteful would be ignoring the body's hormonal patterns, exhausting our adrenals and creating sickness in the future.
Wasteful would be adhering to mental idea of constantly being active, rather than listening to the feelings of the body, the wisdom of the natural world, and seasons of the planet.
Easier Said Than Done
But we do live in this constantly busy world, and we do have bills to pay and deadlines to meet. So we must do what we have to to survive here.
But the choices come in how we spend our downtime.
Projects that can be put off until the spring should be.
Endless stimulation - whether through the TV, Facebook, or our own internal worries - these things are a choice - to some extent. And if once recognise this, we can practice letting them go, in favour of more restful, nourishing, communal pursuits.
Then we will naturally have more energy for the big push that is going to be upon us before we know it.
There is coming a time when the dreaming will require action to birth it into being.
But it is not now. Not yet.
There is a time coming when the seeds and the bulbs and buds will be bursting with vigour and expanding in all directions.
But for now they are buried; concentrated in kernel, deep within their being, dreaming of their awakening, but resting for now.
For me, as the new year approached there was much time taken to do this work.
Time spent ritualistically visioning my coming year - full of abundance, love, family, peacefulness, creativity, friendship, and radiant health...
Dream yourself a gorgeous year - and we'll see you in it...