At this time of year, many of us are coming out of the winter doldrums. Well, at least I am. As you may know, our family unschools which is a way of saying that we educate our children and ourselves through experience. I bring this up because most people have a schedule and structure to their lives that doesn’t take into account the natural rhythm of the body, seasons, and nature. Because my kids don’t go to school and neither my husband nor I have a 9-5 job, we are living with less external structure than most. Even though we have lived like this for sometime, I am still very susceptible to the idea that I should be productive and in a high energy state all the time.
I have always loved naps. I remember when I was a kid, I would crawl up on the back of the sofa and nap like a cat in the sunshine. When I was in college, my friends always thought I must be sick because I would sleep in the middle of the day. When I start getting cranky and grumpy around 2 one of my kids will usually say, “Mom, you need a nap.” And they are always right! When I was in my 20s and 30s I desperately tried to even out my energy level. I took ginseng, and stopped drinking coffee, and tried all kinds of things to keep myself from hitting that tired state during the day. It never worked. I have finally come to accept that this IS my natural state. We are constantly being told by advertising and media that we should feel great all the time and should never be tired. The reality is that our energy, just like the seasons, ebbs and flows. It is not supposed to be constant and steady.
The same goes for being productive, creative, happy, focused, constructive. All of these qualities are not nor should not be constant. They need to be in balance with their counterparts. In yogic philosophy, there is a concept called Avidya which translates to clouded thought or mis-perception. Some forms of avidya are, wanting without needing, needing to be right and others wrong, and most pertinent to this discussion, identifying with one’s thoughts and feelings. For example, when we are being productive and feel happy, that means that we are successful. If we are being unproductive and feel unhappy, that must mean that we are failures right? How could the same person be both in a short period of time? The answer is, we can’t. Is a tree a failure because it has lost it’s leaves and is resting? Are dogs unproductive when they sleep during the day? Okay, maybe they are but they don’t care!
Work in Progress
I am a long way away from not identifying with my state of mind. Every winter, I feel cold, lazy and unmotivated for much of the time. Every winter, I think to myself; what is wrong with me? Every spring, I start to feel better and forget that I ever felt the way I did in the winter. Winter is the natural resting cycle in nature and it should also be a resting cycle for us humans. For me, 2pm seems to be the winter of my day, when I need to rest and reset. The key for all of us is to find a balance to our natural tendencies. If you tend towards inertia, you may need to push yourself to be more active. If you tend towards overextending your energy, you may need to be more open and receptive to times of rest. The key is not to NOT have extremes in your life but to learn to balance them with their counterparts.