• Jenny Bell

Winter: Let the Darkness In

#wintersolstice #christmas #seasons #ritual #shadowwork #loneliness #depression

Winter is a time of darkness and deep reflection. Lean into those feelings and let yourself explore.

Carl Jung is famous for is work with shadows. He wrote, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.” Your shadow is a part of you that you deny, ignore, don't want, etc. But it is still a part of you. Wintertime naturally brings the shadow into light.

Some people really love winter but for most of us, winter brings on feelings of sadness, loneliness and even depression. People will tell you to get a sun lamp, take more vitamin d, exercise more, etc. But what if I told you that winter is a time to go deep, explore your shadow and actually let yourself feel? What if you embrace that natural ebb of happiness? What if you leaned into those tough feelings and explored them?

Winter is a natural cycle--it brings on the darkness and we can embrace it.

I consider myself a joyful person but every year as winter approaches I cannot deny the feelings inside. I find myself turning inward and reflecting. The hard feelings of the year are relived and even traumas of the past resurface. This is natural. Our society is so focused on happiness that we forget what gifts sadness can bring. When we lean into the hard feelings we can release them. If we ignore them they become part of our shadow.

Loneliness is just one side of a coin--the other is solitude. What if instead of focusing on who is not in your life, you focused on yourself? What if you gave yourself the love and care you need in order to find good people to have in your life? No one can ever complete us. We must find our own wholeness. Winter invites us to do things like journal, meditate, practice yoga, reflect and heal.

We can hibernate within ourselves to reemerge stronger and happier in the spring.

In Buddhism, the lotus blooming in the mud is a symbol for enlightenment only being obtained after digging deep into the mud of life. Winter invites the mud and it gives you a chance to work through all that has built up.

A simple way to work through your mud and invite the darkness is to truly drop into your body every night. Really sit with yourself and explore what you are feeling, then write it down. You can do this process night after night until you discover what it is you need to work through. This journey will be different for everyone. It is important to give yourself grace, allow yourself to feel and breathe deeply throughout the season.

Remember, if you are feeling really low to seek help. Sometimes we need a guide to shine a light in those dark places for us and therapists are perfect for that job.

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