In case you've been living under a rock, we just celebrated the beginning of the New Year. I say this with intentional sarcasm because we are being bombarded right now with so much messaging about how important this new beginning is. Everywhere I turn, I see social media posts, news stories, and ads about this. It's not only a new year, but a new decade! Make this the best year ever! Time to start a new project, new lifestyle, new attitude!
I began to feel like something was wrong with me because I am just not feeling all this "newness" right now. I am finishing things up, not starting new ones. I am feeling introspective and yearning for the safety and comfort of home, not ready to jump up and greet a new year/new decade/new me with a flurry of activity. I started wondering if there is space for those of us who are in hibernation in all the fuss over a new year/new decade. In my last post I talked about holding space for grief. Perhaps this is a continuation of that theme, because I'm drawn once again to talk about holding space-- this time for hibernation.
I attended a soulful, inspiring women's conference in November, and one of the meet and greet exercises was to identify the current season we felt we related to most in our lives. Were we starting new things and growing, like Spring? Were we in the heat of our work and getting things done, like Summer? Were we coming to the end of some things and starting to look inward, like Fall? Were we deep in our cocoon of healing and rest, like Winter?
We split into groups, and it was a pretty even split. I thought it was interesting because I definitely felt that I was in Fall, and we were also physically in the season of autumn. At the time I wondered whether that was coincidental, or if those of us in Fall were drawn there by the changes in nature during that season. Is there any significance to feeling that we are in the same season in our lives as the current season in our environment? If I was living in the Southern Hemisphere, and it was actually Spring, rather than Fall, would I still have been in Fall in my life? Ultimately I think these questions matter less than the gift of recognizing the season you're in and honoring what that looks like for you, along with allowing yourself the freedom to explore how best to function within that season.
I am most definitely in Winter right now, both in the current environmental season as well as in my own life. Winter encourages us to turn our focus inward, to quiet ourselves and warm ourselves by the fire of healing and intuition. We are less focused on outward "doings," and more focused on what's happening within our hearts and minds. To me it feels like a solitary time; a time to reacquaint myself with me. Who am I now? Who do I want to be when I emerge from my hibernation? How can I best honor my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs while I'm in this state of rest?
What happens when we're in the middle of this hibernation period and the new year starts? This does seem like a natural time to look back at where we've been and to look forward at what comes next, especially at the end and beginning of a decade. But the messaging I have been seeing is less about introspection and more about doing. The energy I associate with this "New Year New You" is more like Spring than Winter. "It's a new year/new decade! Let's start DOING! DO a cleanse/diet/lifestyle change! DO a new life/financial/career plan! DO a new activity!" In response to all this I find myself asking, "Is this really a natural time to start new "doings," or is that idea somewhat arbitrary? Do we need more time to process where we've come from and allow Spring to come naturally after a Winter period of contemplation and rest?"
As I saw at the conference, not everyone is in the same season in their life right now, and I think this is fantastic. If we were all in Winter at the same time energetically we might never make it to Spring. Mixing with people in all seasons allows us to remember what the last season was like for us, as well as giving us something to look forward to when our season shifts once more. However, we can also get caught up in making judgments about the season we're in, especially when others seem to be in a more active season.
Just as I presented the idea of holding space for grief in my last post, I'd like to encourage us to hold space for hibernation right now, even though we are at the beginning of a new year/new decade. In energy work, we hold space by creating a safe environment for a client to experience whatever comes up during their session. Holding space can look different depending on the situation. The most important thing is that the person you are holding space for feels respected, honored, supported and safe. In terms of hibernation, it might mean allowing unconditional support for a person who expresses their need to be in rest by being compassionate and forgiving when a friend or family member opts out of an activity or chooses solitude over company.
Holding space for ourselves is also important; it's vital that we respect our need for solitude and down time when we are in hibernation. Coming out of our cocoon of healing before we're ready does not serve us. Just as it can be dangerous for animals who wake up too early, those of us in hibernation right now need our quiet, our warmth, our introspection for body, mind, and spirit. I know I was feeling a lot of pressure about not being in the "New Year New You" space until I started sitting with my feelings about why it was bothering me.
If you are in that Spring energy of "New Year New You," this is fabulous! Enjoy all the messaging about starting new things and let it inspire you to grow. I also encourage you to hold space for friends and family who might not be in that same energy right now. Let's have respect for those who are in hibernation and not shame them about what might seem to others like choosing isolation. And for those of us who are in hibernation, let's be honest about it. Let's not make excuses about caring for ourselves in whatever form that may take.
Part of living in Spiritual Integration is recognizing that we are all equally Divine, no matter what state we're functioning in on a daily basis. Someone in hibernation is no less spiritual than someone who is out there attending classes or starting new projects, and vice versa. They're just people in different seasons of their lives right now. Respecting what our soul is calling for in each moment is the height of living in connection to the Divine. Respecting another person's recognition of their spiritual needs puts us on the path toward loving unconditionally, and to me this is always the goal of living a spiritual life.
And perhaps, whatever season you feel you're in personally right now, you might pause and take some time to hold space for your own hibernation. Look back at where you've been, spend a little time looking forward to the future...and then come back to the present and live fully and deeply in your current season.