This post is for those of you in the northern hemisphere, the further north the better. We are in the last 6 weeks or so of the year when the days are getting shorter until the Winter Solstice. For some of you who live in the far northern latitudes, this can be a real problem. SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder can cause depressive symptoms in some people to the extent that they need to seek some sort of remedy such as special lighting or supplements. Suicide rates and death rates in general go up this time of year, too.
There can also be the urge to hibernate and just hunker down in solitude for a while, which can generate its own set of issues, especially for those who celebrate holidays this time of year. For most of us in the United States, this includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve and any other holiday that I may have overlooked. I have often thought about how nice it must be to celebrate Christmas on the beach in Australia, instead of in the deep freeze of the northern US or Canada.
Now, this may not be your experience depending on your basic temperament, so I can only describe what happened to me in the hopes that it will resonate. For some years leading up to the early 2000’s, I was acutely aware of the let’s say natural rhythm of down time during the shortest days of the year. I would also call this an organic pattern. In conflict with this is the synthetic pattern of the celebration of religious holidays during this time. Along with this goes the excessive commercialism, the pressures of gift giving and the attached expectations, and the sometimes endless rounds of business, personal and family get-togethers.
As I evolved with my spiritual path, this conflicting pattern became quite uncomfortable for me. After my divorce around that time and then starting down my shamanic path, I made a conscious choice to follow the organic path at this time of year. I do not do Christmas at all, and celebrate the Winter Solstice as the start of my New Year. I also listen to my body’s need to go into semi-hibernation even into January, limiting non essential social activities.
This may not be the case for others as I know some who thrive with the holiday doings, or feel the need to fulfill the expectations that this season brings, no matter how much their inner guidance may be telling them to tone it down. What helped me tremendously was coming upon a book entitled “The Highly Sensitive Person” by Elaine Aron. I finally understood why this time of year had become so difficult over the years.
About 15-20 % of the population is considered to be highly sensitive. What this means is that you can get over stimulated and over loaded very easily by the world around you. Then, a whole host of issues can come up involving coping with the overload to feeling guilty that you cannot just barrel through life like many others can to feeling inadequate that you do not want to participate in certain activities in spite of being pressured to do so. Finally understanding my highly sensitive nature helped me to give myself permission to make and support personal choices and create a lifestyle that aligns with that sensitivity. Not that I don’t enjoy a bit of craziness from time to time, but I also need private time to recoup. Living alone and out in the country is very supportive for me, too.
So I encourage each of you to connect with your guidance and make choices that support your authentic self especially during this time of year. Prepare for the start of the organic New Year at solstice time. If you suspect that you are highly sensitive, get the book. It certainly did explain to me a lot of my reactions to being over stimulated by situations around me that I felt I had no control over. Now I know of course that I always have control over my reactions, no matter what is going on. I have choices and so do you. Become aware of what you need on a deep level. Your authentic self will be supported during this dark time of the year if you do.