As the days begin to shorten and become shrouded by night’s quick approach, the earth tenses and folds inward. Leaves dry out and curl in on themselves. Animals retreat to sleep. Humans begin to restrict their muscles in protection from the cold. Yet we don’t just restrict physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well. Thoughts seem to create a traffic jam in the brain. Emotions seem to be caught in the chest. Frustrations seem to take hold of the heart.
You are not alone if you balk at these boundaries that nature has enforced upon us. Some statistics find that 6 out of 100 Americans experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder during the darkest winter months. The Dalai Lama has said, “I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” Hope in the midst of darkness? People seem to be experiencing hopelessness, not hope. So, how does one find hope in the darkest of days?
Deep in the myths and stories of many religious and spiritual traditions, a theme emerges. These stories speak of wisdom, strength and deliverance being birthed in the darkness. Jonah, trapped inside the belly of a whale, shifted his relationship with God and came out transformed. Buddha had to first be terrorized by the demon Mara before he was enlightened. Psyche (from whom we get the term psychotherapy) had to travel to the underworld in order to attain immortality.
Psychotherapy insists that we travel into the darkness. The darkness of our souls, of our past, of our shame or insecurity, and of our hurt. To find wisdom, strength and deliverance we must make this journey. And many of us do. Yet, what about choosing to make this journey on the simplest of winter days? Do we notice the potential and hope that a cold and dark winter day could hold? What would shift for us if we chose to curl inward with acceptance instead of obligation? As my yoga teacher says, “Today is a new day. What are we going to do with it?"
The Spirit of Therapy
Where psychotherapy interacts with our mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and relational wellbeing.