21 December 2015
Sleep, Darkness and Slowing Down
Our lives are so full of activities and stimulation of all kinds. It can be hard to focus on the healing and rest we need; yet nothing contributes to health more than nourishing food and SLEEP. I’ve heard it said that 90% of our healing happens during sleep. This is also the place of the dreamtime, where we renew our spirits and create new visions for the future.
Winter Solstice is a time of long nights – deep, dark, and rich for healing. Millennia of our ancestors would be in darkness for 14 hours a night or more. Here are some suggestions for self care during this time:
Excel at the Art of Sleep – Try darkening your bedroom to coincide with the long nights and see how often you can let yourself get 8, 10, or more hours of sleep during this time. You may be surprised how much your body will take if you let it sleep as much as it wants and how restored you will feel as a result.
Reduce Light – Try burning candles at night instead of using electric lights. At the beginning of each winter season, I buy an big box of beeswax candles to burn during dinner and before bed. Beeswax produces negative ions, as do waterfalls and falling rain, which help to relax us. Go a little further, if you’re adventurous, and try nights without computers, videos, or other light producing machines, as it will give your system a break.
Take Baths – Nourish and renew yourself by stepping into a hot steamy bath on a cold winter night! This is one of my favorite healing rituals. Many cultures would never consider a bath without herbs steeping. Put some fresh potherbs directly in the bath – anything like rosemary, thyme, or lavender that might be growing on your windowsill or still alive outside your front door. You can also add dried herbs by putting them in a clean sock and letting them soak in the water. An herbal infusion if you will.
Retreat – If there’s any way during the holiday busy-ness to create some alone time for reflection and contemplation, take it. Quiet time counteracts the over stimulation of our lives. This has become an annual ritual for me, usually between Christmas and New Year's. I look forward to this time both to catch up on less vital tasks that have slipped off the radar all year as well as to connect with myself more deeply.