In her book, Wintering,The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, Katherine May writes beautifully:
Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Wintering is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.”
When the light wanes in the Northern Hemisphere, the culture that shames rest and praises hustle drives us to ignore the rhythms of our mammalian bodies. Do more, more, more the media says. And do it joyously and happily even during the darkest chapters of our lives.
If we succumb to societal pressure, we overfill our days. If we withstand, we find courage and answers.
Counterintuitive as it may feel to disconnect from the world, many spiritual practices propose we do just that to find true connection. To see things as they are, the Buddha taught, apply yourself to solitude.
Solitude, stillness, silence. What emotions do these elicit in you?
For many, these bring up loneliness and isolation. For others, solitude is expansive.
When we sit silently, we hear our thoughts and feel our feelings. It isn’t always pleasant. But with practice, we shift our active minds into neutral or calm states and connect with the universal hum.
The universe has an eternal hum… It is a hum that is hard to hear through the louder and closer noise of our daily lives. It is the unity that transcends us… It makes us part of something larger. In solitude alone do we become part of this great eternal sound.” ~Kent Nerburn
When we feel connected to the universe, we don’t need others and things to fill us. When we feel the pulse of the planet, we feel at peace even when our lives are touched by death, disease, and divorce. This peace is what I wish for every day and holiday.
*Solitude might not have these benefits for everyone, especially those with PTSD or suicidal ideations. If you experience either, please connect with a mental health practitioner, and take good care of yourself—you are an invaluable thread in this tapestry of life.
If it’s a darker season in your life, here are two devices that enhance my ability to hear the symphony of solitude and weather dark nights of the soul.
A brain-sensing meditation device with real-time bio-feedback on brain activity. The App tells how much time a mind is active, neutral, or calm, breath is in harmony, and body, still. Like training wheels, bumpers, and a personal mindfulness coach on-call 24/7, Muse is for beginners and wandering minds. Use this link to receive a $30 credit to Muse. (We’ll receive $30 to fund the Love and Law Podcast.)
The noise canceling and symphonic quality can transport to galaxies far away or serve as a lifeline from and to the deep within. Silence, solitude, rhythm, grove. Beats are tops in my self-care kit for divorce lawyers and clients. Thoughtful investments and worthwhile things don’t fill us, but they can make it easier to heal in solitude in the winter of divorce .
Perhaps these days of less sunlight are opportunities for more contemplative time, more looking deeply to see what can only be seen in the dark.”
~ Sylvia Boorstein