Finding Courage for Stillness in a Season of Busyness
Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, when we reach a moment where the tilt of the Earth puts us farthest from the sun. It is the longest night and the shortest day.
In the age before electricity and 24/7 work cycles, winter was a time to go within. And the Winter Solstice still invites us to match the Earth’s stillness with our own.
The long period of darkness is a time to go behind the veils, to explore what we keep buried beneath the facade we present to the world.
Often, when we allow ourselves to be in stillness, uncomfortable emotions arise. We find unexpressed grief, loss, sorrow, shame, disappointments, fear.
So if you notice yourself yearning to race around town to meet people and do things or needing to suddenly organize your closets, don’t be surprised. That’s your inner protection mechanism sprouting up to spare you the pain.
A friend recently expressed to me,
I have never been great with just sitting with uncomfortable feelings.
I could only laugh. You and everyone else, I said.
Stillness and solitude are two of the most challenging experiences for most of us, and our culture does an excellent job of helping us avoid or escape them.
Especially at this time of year.
There’s work to finish. Year-end things to tie up. Gifts to buy. Stuff to do. Errands. Deadlines. Holidays to plan. People race around from one store to the next in a hurry to buy things and get it all done before the impending deadlines.
Errands can make you feel very busy. And when we are avoiding difficult emotions, that’s what we want to be: busy.
By the way: if you’re doing your errands and tasks in front of a computer, you might be in physical stillness, but it’s not real stillness. Your mind is racing and spinning like a whirling dervish.
Escape and avoidance only work for so long. The emotions we repress eventually emerge, often at inopportune times, demanding to be seen and confronted. What we don’t process fuels anxiety and depression.
Learning to hold space for ourselves and our own difficult emotions is a crucial skill. But it takes courage to claim stillness when culture encourages us to be busy.
That courage is rewarded.
Yes, at first you may find unexpressed grief, loneliness, depression and despair, uncertainty, vulnerability, and fear. Maybe you need to cry. Maybe you feel emptiness.
That emptiness is the soil from which all new life and ideas emerge.
As all the layers of protection fall away, eventually you are left with the truth of who you are.
Finding that is the ultimate holiday gift.