In my work, I often refer to our human bodies as our animal bodies. Even though I feel the saying, “We are a spiritual being in a human body,” is true. So is it true that our human animal bodies need to be paid attention to, are a powerful force to be reckoned with, and one that can DEFINITELY control or have significant impact on the shape of our days. (For women you might want to check out my article, “Ladies, Hormones Are Serious. And They Seem To Cause Temporary Amnesia 😉 ” )
But the truth is that our human bodies are born of and from this earth—just like all the other creatures that live here—therefore, naturally, we also innately crave the rhythm of its seasons.
In winter—nature goes dormant. Deciduous trees lose their leaves, even evergreens go inside of themselves. It is a time of internal quiet contemplation. Of slowness and darkness.
The natural pulls of this season are in direct opposition to what a capitalistic society says we should be doing now: shopping, being out, clinking glasses, celebrating together cheerily—which maybe one of the reasons why trying to do it all often adds extra stress.
I feel this internal silent pull every year especially in December. I’ve written about it other places too. (Like in my, “Finding The Stars Within” article) Last year to honor that rich creativity that always seems to flow for me this time of year I took the whole month of December away from social media. I’m not suggesting you do that, unless it speaks to you.
I don’t want to make it hard or complicated. We’ve already got enough on our lists To Do this time of year. So here is my list of SIMPLE ways to honor/get the silence/enriching darkness your animal body craves.
SIT IN THE DARK
Sit in the dark. I have a salt lamp—which I love. In fact, (true confession) I have one in almost every room of our house. This time of year especially, I just LOVE the ambient soft glow it puts out. Sometimes, in December (like a couple of days ago!) I turn off all the lights except my salt lamp and sit in bed (or lay on my couch in the living room). I don’t do anything. I TURN OFF my phone BEFORE I turn out the lights—otherwise, let’s be honest, I’ll peak at it. And then I just sit in the dark and without agenda I let my mind wander and my body relax. Usually, at some point I end by meditating or doing some mantra repetition—and then I go to sleep (that’s why I like to do it in my bed). If you don’t have a salt lamp, light a candle.
LOVING SELF-MASSAGE WITH HERBAL OIL
I saw a lovely Instagram post the other day from Becca Piastrelli, author of “Root and Ritual,” about doing a candlelight self-massage with your favorite herbal oil. If you don’t have a favorite herbal oil—jojoba, or even olive oil will do. If you have essential oils at home put a drop of your favorite soothing oil. If you don’t have essential oil or herb infused, just use the oil without herbs! Don’t let not having those things prevent you from the goodness. It’s the loving massage that is the important thing!
READ ALOUD TO YOUR CHILDREN/FAMILY BY CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHT
My husband and I still read to our children at night before they go to bed. This time of year we sometimes get our favorite holiday books out (or just read our current chapter book) and do our reading in the living room instead of lying together in our king size bed. We turn off all the lights except the Christmas tree lights and I read with a headlamp shining on the book. I do NOT actually attempt to read with only the Christmas tree lights! 😉 (Again, light candles in place of a Christmas tree if you aren’t a Christmas tree family.)
ONLY CANDLELIGHT NIGHT
Another tradition I love is candlelight evening. I love to do this as close to the Winter Solstice as works for our family schedule. The idea is not to turn on any lights in the house. When it gets dark outside, instead of flipping the light switches, you light candles throughout the house. We eat dinner to candlelight, play games to candlelight etc. It takes a little prep, i.e. you’ve got to have your candles ready ahead of time. It gets dark early where we live, so the other prep is setting up a crock pot dinner earlier in the day when it is still light out so you don’t find yourself stressed and trying to cook in the dark?! (Trust me, that’s an anti-soothing experience! 😉 Overall, it’s a lovely and calming way to mark and align with the season. We usually leave our Christmas tree lights on—because we love them. And typically, at some point a light or two gets turned on to help find something—or out of habit when you enter a room. Still, it’s a lovely, soothing, festive, special, and fun tradition and a nice way to help your animal body get what it needs right now: Darkness.
GO TO BED EARLY … MANY NIGHTS IN A ROW
Your body actually wants more sleep right now than it does in the summer. We are so used to overriding this that we actually usually keep the same habits all year—or worse, stay up later in December to get it all done. One of the best cures I know for overwhelm and/or stressed out/ frustrated thoughts is more sleep. In Eastern traditions there is a notion that every hour of sleep you get before midnight is equal to two hours after midnight. An easy way to give your animal body what it needs and craves right now is simply to get into bed early. Try it three nights in a row (or more) and you’ll be amazed at the difference. Last week I got in bed at 8:30pm one night! During this time of year, I shoot for being in my bed in the 9pm hour range and achieving that feels so delicious.
P.P.S.S. I’m not trying to tell you you need to buy anything else! But if you are already looking for or craving beautiful candles,Big Dipper Wax Works, are my favorites. They are all beeswax and high quality (and NOT perfumy). I love the sanctuary candles (and you can order refills). They burn forever, smell nice, and I feel comfortable leaving them burning— even on my desk with many papers.