I woke up this morning and it was dark. In the past when this was the case, I felt heavy and lacked motivation to get out of bed. My husband, Alan, usually had already gotten up to do his morning Qi Gong practice. I would ask myself, should I snuggle with our puppy Tarzan? Or should I get up and blindly make my way to the bathroom only to turn on the harsh artificial light and take a shower? I think you know what my decision was :)
I have always been very sensitive to light. I grew up on the Gulf Coast in Pensacola, a beach town. My days were filled with bright, warm, southern light. Yes, we southerners, too, had to adjust our schedules to the ebb and flow of seasonal light but because we were closer to the equator, the light was brighter and warmer and the sun was higher in the sky. I have great memories of playing outside with my neighborhood friends into the warm evenings until my mom would call me in for dinner and also as a teenager watching the sunsets from the point at Fort Pickens until the last speck of light was present on the horizon. My life revolved around the sun, its warmth and the affects it had on my well-being.
After graduating from architecture school, Alan and I decided to move north to Boston where we sought exciting building projects and sought to expand our life experience by being in a highly urban environment and a different part of the country. Living in New England and in a beautiful city such as Boston was very fulfilling and distinctly different from living in the South. The seasons are more varied, the winters colder and there is lots of snow! We loved the unique personality of each season. Over time, though, I became acutely aware of the affect that the general lack of light was having on my emotional state. I felt sluggish most of the time, not unlike the way I have been feeling in the darkness of the Autumn mornings here. We kept moving into homes that had more and more windows until finally, we ended up buying a loft that had 95 linear feet of windows that were 8 ½ feet tall. WOW, I clearly couldn’t get enough light!
Ultimately, we realized that we both longed for a warmer, more light-filled and temperate climate. We moved to New Orleans for several years until we were offered an opportunity to move here to San Francisco. San Francisco has beautiful light, not as warm in color as the south, but bright and inspiring. The mornings, as we move into fall and winter though, are still challenging to me.
Many of my clients have expressed very similar difficulties as we have moved into a dimmer season. I have found a solution that has been working great for me that I wish I had discovered way back in our Boston days. Thankfully, I had begun in New Orleans to cultivate this practice. It is something that feeds my soul in a way that doesn’t rely on seasons, or light, for that matter:
The early morning is a time of great mental clarity. Traditional Ayurveda claims this period of time is when our minds are in their most creative state. This might explain why meditation devotees rise before the sun, regardless of the season, to ride the waves of just being. As I continued to meditate, I realized that my experience has been that the transparency resulting from my early morning meditation practice helps create peaceful mind-waves throughout the day independent of lightness or darkness in every sense of meaning. My mind IS the sun.
Give it a try…..snuggle with your mind! Overcome your crawling deeper into bed by willfully bringing yourself either into a seated meditation or walking meditation….indoors or outdoors. The affects will be palpable and will create ripples of peace so that you can find light even in the darkest of places.