I wrote this a few years ago – and really needed to hear it myself this long winter (2017/18) – breathing through the snow, nearly there!
“Here in Bristol winter has finally taken its hold, the cold invites us to withdraw and we are ready for this important season of slowing down, of introspection and reaching out for the primal comfort of nourishing warmth. When the bravado of the summer fruit has been stripped away, we are left with a vulnerability and a confrontation with the facets of ourselves and the world at large, that need work; the burning off of those habitual thought patterns and their subsequent actions, that bring only further chaos, stress and confusion to our lives.
Ironically, though the natural instinct of winter is to slow down, the world around us keeps charging forwards; bills to be paid, pipes to be fixed, mouths to be fed, causes to be fought! We are all in conflict – the body and soul yearn for stillness yet the pressures of material life mount ever higher on the mind. How do we find the balance we need – to remain focused on keeping our lives and the planet in harmony and not spiraling out of control – whilst allowing in the vulnerability of nature, naked in the winter cold, accepting the need for support and for stopping, if even for a moment?
Herein lies the key; moment by moment, little by little, breath by breath. The world will not end if we cannot deliver a demand right now and if we focus all at once on every demand expected (usually by ourselves!), we may seize up in suffocation and cease to function. We need to take a moment between each moment, slip out to backstage to open the window, take a deep, slow breath of cold, fresh air and notice how proudly the trees bare their strong and flexible forms, without the adornment of the transient leaf.
Each breath fuels the subsequent thought and hence the subsequent action; but without an awareness of the quality of that breath, our shallow inhalations – clouded with frustration, anxiety and exhaustion – cannot possibly lead to positive outcome. As we turn our focus inwards and follow the spiral of life towards the core, we see the whole from a quieter perspective, but the whole remains – in the full, dynamic equilibrium of creation. The experience of contraction is to prepare again for a new expansion; rebirth with wisdom gained and sweeter fruit to bare.
We do not stop, we cannot stop, life flows! The structures and frameworks we build will wear and may collapse or be torn down but each time we rebuild with added experience and maturity; then those structures provide more to those they support, the house becomes a home! Within each grand cycle is an infinity of cycles, each experiencing the same journey of death and rebirth, night and day. We cannot contract forever into the warm, protective cocoon – the womb that prepares new life – the cycle is relentless! The body will always snap us back from our meditation – with a pang of hunger, a ringing phone, the baby waking – having taken our moment, clear focus and calm action follow without effort. Life flows; we build up, we break down, we build stronger, we stand firmer, we endure longer….. we forever expand our capacity to give more….. and the beauty of nature’s spiral ensures that our efforts are rewarded with ever richer fulfillment.
Don’t travel alone, we all have our hours of triumph and our periods of despair – the more we share of these as one living family, the brighter our joy and stiller, more reflective our sorrow! Connect, come together, share, listen and feel each others’ journey – our paths may appear different but our inner stories are the same. Be naked, unafraid of the harsh, cold wind, under the surface our roots are all entwined, we hold together as one. Seek warm refuge in togetherness, shelter each other. In solitude there can be no stability, no deep foundation and no mirror to witness our fragile falling leaves, the smooth contours of our bark, our skin….. and the beauty of life that lies within.”