The Gold in February Blues
I am in some ways a typical Capricorn. I am practical, a natural builder, and grounded. I can also be a bit of an old goat, crotchety, cynical, sour and critical – mostly towards myself. These shadow aspects of my character seem to show themselves around February, when I feel particularly starved for sunlight and warmth, things that my orchid-like flower nature needs to feel vibrantly alive.
That is not to say that the weather is responsible for my recently more 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.
I look forward to connecting with you here next week. We will explore how to witness and dissolve painful perceptions so that you can reconnect with the love that is always present.
An important note: As I wrote in my previous series on depression and despair, “Clinical depression is different from occasional depression that we can all feel from time to time. It is a mood disorder that interferes with the ability to conduct a healthy life. In clinical depression, there are biochemical factors, which are beyond the scope of this blog. Clinical depression is for your doctor to diagnose and requires medical attention.
However, whether you suffer from a medical condition or a passing case of the blues, we can explore the landscape of depression and despair with similar care and attention, on top of any additional support you may be receiving for your particular situation.”
If you are feeling depression to such an extent that you are considering suicide, please reach out. In Canada and the US, you can call 1-800-273-TALK. In the UK and Ireland, you can call 116 123. The website suicide.org maintains a list of suicide hotlines globally. Please remember, that however real your painful perceptions may seem, they are not ultimate reality. If you don’t know how to get beyond them, give others a chance to give you a helping hand. You are always loved, even if you are having a hard time seeing or remembering that right now.