Catching the Light in the Drab Days of Winter
“Surely as cometh the Winter, I know
There are Spring violets under the snow.”
– R. H. Newell
Even though it is still chilly and dark here in the Northern hemisphere, we are now just a month out from the spring equinox – and less than a month from the release of my song “I Am Light” on March 15! Make sure you call your local radio station and ask them to play it when it comes out.
I am in some ways a typical Capricorn. I am practical, a natural builder, and grounded. I can also be a bit of a critical old goat – mostly hard on myself. The shadow aspects of my character can show themselves around February, when I feel particularly ready for spring’s warmth, things that my orchid-like flower nature needs to feel vibrantly alive.
That is not to say that the weather is responsible for a bleak mid-winter state, nor is anything outside of me, for that matter. Winter by nature is barren, and in its emptiness can come great gifts of clear insight.
The way I choose to perceive the world and this moment is entirely my own choice. The choice may seem muted, hidden, hard to see when I am feeling less vibrant. But deep down I know that temporary blues reflect my shadowy habits back to me. They illustrate ways of perceiving that keep me feeling disconnected and small, that stem from my childhood and tendencies that I carry from previous lifetimes. The way I choose to engage with this moment, receive it or reject it, is entirely up to me.
Like many people, when I feel low energy, I can lose the glimmer of hope. But even in those sullen times, thanks to the strong, healthy habits that I have cultivated through my spiritual practice and thanks to the presence of loving people around me, some part of my consciousness remembers that everything that happens in my life is grace – even things that I find challenging.
HOW CAN THE BLUES BE GRACE?
Passing shadowy periods show us the ways we are attached to feeling separate from the whole, the now, the force of life that is love. The loving presence of life does not stop because we choose to turn a blind eye to it. It remains flowing, like an eternal, effervescent fountain. But we think it does. We become like the child who plays hide and seek with his caretakers by covering his eyes, thinking that just because he cannot see his environment, no one can see him.
We laugh in delight at such child-like innocence. We forgive the child’s ignorance because we understand that he does not clearly see the limited perception of his ways. Yet we are quick to judge ourselves for our spiritual ignorance that does the same with life. When we mask our sight in a moment of depression, we act as if life around us is not present, and does not care. But life has not changed. Only our perception has.
To know that a passing period of February blues is grace allows us to relax the muscles of our psyche that keep our hand covering our eyes from what is. We can soften in the face of the habit of feeling disconnected. We can bear witness to our ignorance that is attached to feeling unloved, incapable, or worthless, rather than believing it to be fixed, permanent and ultimately real. This understanding does not take those painful thoughts away, but it disarms their power over us, the sense of being a victim to some cruel joke by life. It helps us let go of the notion that life is happening to us, so we may remember that we are masters of our own perception. Such is the gift of free will.
We can learn to not resist the blues, because within them is gold, gems that show us how we are attached to limited perceptions. We can soften to their presence. I have personally seen the gift in this process. When we see our shadows with clarity, we notice that our ego only has two modes of expression: on one hand we feel better than others and are invested in proving our worth to maintain that illusion, and on the other, we feel deflated, maybe even listless and beaten by everything, even life itself. Both are different sides of the very same coin of ego-driven disconnect. When we buy into that form of currency, we miss the joy of being, and separate ourselves from feeling a part of the very fabric of life, that is love.
It is hard to know that your true nature is love and that you are loved if you feel powerless by believing that life is happening to you. So to rest in the love that already is, you need to come to a place of sincere willingness to experience the possibility of love – even if you may not see or experience it yet. This requires being open to the notion that the way you perceive may not be completely accurate. It is, after all, only a passing, limited perception, tainted by your beliefs and biases. It is not absolute.
When you are attached to the passing perception that life is happening to you, you are in your ego, which only knows to divide. You see life through a limited, distorted lens. The ego is both attached and tricky. It can seem hard to move beyond it. But it has its own Achilles heel. It dissolves when questioned and witnessed.
THE EGO’S PAYOFFS
You may find it hard to willingly move beyond your limiting beliefs that keep you feeling that love is neither your true nature nor possible in your life. That is because you still find value in seeing yourself as powerless and in believing that life is happening to you. You likely do this even if you know it makes you feel lousy.
Let’s say that you perceive yourself to be a failure or unlovable. Those thoughts do not make you feel good. But you hold onto them, because at some level you believe they are true. Deeper still, at some level you want to believe that they are true, however hard that may be to admit to yourself. For some reason, you feel those thoughts are valuable, that they give you something.
But the ego offers no free rides. The sobering truth is that seeing life through the lens of your ego always has a payoff, even if that payoff does not ultimately fulfill you. For example, you may choose to be attached to feeling like a failure, so you don’t try that new job that you know you would love, or go to the gym, or say hello to someone you would like to befriend. Your attachments to feeling like a failure keeps you hidden and safe from the unknown. But in that smallness, you rob yourself of the opportunity to feel connected to the love that already is.
The ego says: “Stay small. You’ve been hurt. You don’t want to be hurt again.” That voice seems reasonable, but it is not. By keeping yourself small, you may prevent temporary disappointment, but you miss long-term freedom found in realizing your true potential. So if you find yourself unwilling to move beyond the voices in your head that say you are unlovable, unworthy, a failure, etc., then at some level, you get a payoff in hanging onto them, even if they don’t make you happy.
CHALLENGING WHAT KEEPS YOU FEELING SMALL
Willingness means confronting those voices in your head that keep you feeling small. You need to ask yourself, “is this true?” Should the voice say, “I am a failure”, you can retort, “Is it true that I am a failure?” By questioning it, you can see that it is not 100% ALWAYS the case – therefore it is not an absolute truth. You don’t ALWAYS fail. You can find one thing that you are good at, even if it is breathing!
Similarly, if you feel attached to feeling unloved, you can question if that is true. Have you never, ever, ever experienced any act of kindness from anyone, ever? Likely you have! Someone has likely opened a door for you to let you walk through, or lent you a hand in some way.
If you are going through a difficult breakup, or find yourself drifting away from friends or family, the ego can inflate these into, “There is no one who loves me. I suck.” But if you go deeper, you would perhaps say, “I feel sad that we aren’t connecting.” And beneath the sadness, you would find a transcendent clarity that shows you that your now more distant lover or friends or family are doing exactly what they need to be doing in this moment. Their choices have nothing to do with who you are at a soul level. Their choices reflect who they are at this time. They do not determine your worth and they certainly do not mean that you are unloved or that you suck.
I invite you to practice noticing and questioning any negative, habitual thoughts that may arise. Ask yourself, “Is this true? What is beneath this thought? What is this thought masking?”
If you are willing to soften to this moment and open to it as it is, you will find a rich, powerful, loving and safe reality beyond the limiting beliefs that keep you feeling small. You will rest in the love that already is and cherish yourself and the gift of your precious life.
Until next time,
Love our world.
We are ONE Earth family.