Category Archives: Health + Wellness

An invitation into the darkness: the value of rumination and notes on finding your own inner guru.


The darkness of winter: time to turn inwards.

The northern hemisphere is swaddled in darkness, as it is each winter. Today is the longest night of the year; the shortest day. The sun will rise late and quickly dash off, leaving us behind to contemplate the cold, wind, and dreariness of night. Despite the prominence of electric lights and bright screens, and cheery holiday tinsel lining the streets, it's still dark by early afternoon.

It makes me tired, it makes it harder to work. I struggle to keep going in the afternoon, wanting instead to curl up and hibernate. For many of us, we forget that this is the darkest day of the year. We'll notice it only through our increased desire for caffeine, a twinge of melancholy, or a lack of motivation. As Clark Strand writes in Bring On the Dark, "few of us will turn off the lights long enough to notice" the winter solstice happening right around us.

"There’s no getting away from the light. There are fluorescent lights and halogen lights, stadium lights, streetlights, stoplights, headlights and billboard lights. There are night lights to stand sentinel in hallways, and the lit screens of cellphones to feed our addiction to information, even in the middle of the night. No wonder we have trouble sleeping. The lights are always on." — Why We Need The Winter Solstice 

These dark days are a gift: it's an opportunity to turn inwards, to reflect, and to ponder.

Darkness invites contemplation, reflection, and inner reflection. Dwelling in it can also, for me, bring up deeper sadness and sorrows. It comes in waves, for me, the periods of stillness and rest, of quiet and solitude. Sometimes my mind dips into periods of darkness; I know that I'm deep in restoration and rebuilding. Patterns emerge; ideas begin to form. My other senses sharpen as I rely less on my eyesight.

We're called to go into the darkness. To find our own inner guru.

When you dim one sense, you brighten the other senses, adding clarity, range, and acuity to your abilities. The ability to feel a range of emotions increases your emotional depth. The upside of darkness, however, is that it is a beautiful time for rumination and reflection.

In yoga, inviting the darkness in is an invitation to find your own inner wisdom, your own inner guru. In studying with Sara Neufeld recently, I learned more about how darkness is an invitation to find your own inner wisdom.

The word "Guru" comes from two words, gu (darkness) and ru (light). From a seat of heaviness or darkness, we go through experiences that bring us to light. One who has experienced both darkness and light has accumulated wisdom. In the yogic tradition, we all are our own gurus — capable of finding our own inner wisdom when we go inwards and close our eyes to contemplate our being.

"The night was the natural corrective to that most persistent of all illusions: that human progress is the reason for the world." — Clark Strand

Sometimes, finding lightness requires going through the dark. We go not around, but through. The earth spins into darkness every year, so should our souls.

Slowing down to connect across the world: two sisters, reconnecting. {Guest reflections by Easkey and Beckey-Finn Britton}

  You immediately inspired me to have a ‘slow morning’ – get my body moving with some gentle, nourishing stretches and movements (from Dad’s routine!), make French press coffee and sit on the deck in the morning sun thinking nothing at all. Spying some wild blueberries on a nearby bush and foraging for my breakfast…Continue Reading

A little rest can add a lot of happy.

Are you tired? There’s something I’ve been reminded of lately— Happiness doesn’t come from doing nothing; too much of nothing often feels more depressing. But in the midst of the busy, happiness can come from a little bit of rest. A change to your schedule. A two-hour reprieve with a babysitter. A Friday night in.Continue Reading

Making space: holding the container open, empty, and ready.

Cleaning out sometimes feels a bit like a death. Whenever I pack up bags to give away, it feels as though I’m going through old remnants of my past self, closets of things that represent who I used to be, and parting ways. Lately I’ve been cleaning out everything: getting rid of extra toiletries, clothes,Continue Reading

What is grace and why does it hurt so much? (what I learned about emotional resilience through a 10-day detox retreat in Ubud, Bali).

“The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside your control, regardless of what your mind says about it.” — Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul On the black sands of the Java Sea. The waves crashed over my limbs as sobs heaved in and out of my chest. IContinue Reading

You don’t have to do it alone. [an epic resource + event + spiritual program guide.] All my favorite programs for you, right now.

Many of us want similar things in life. Freedom. Love. Money. Safety. Security. Happiness. Depending on where you are in Maslow’s theoretical hierarchy of needs, your next immediate problem might either be finding a meal to satiate your hunger—or it might be reaching out to new meetup groups to make more friends. It might be heading out onContinue Reading

Finding the little bliss(es): this is it.

Where is happiness? Where do you find it? The $7 coffee pot we bought the day we moved in together–because we knew that functioning properly as a team might require adequate dosages of caffeine in our morning routines. Stretching my toes against the curb while waiting for the light to change. High-fiving the blinking walkContinue Reading

What have you done to take care of you?

The line between happy and crazy is very thin. The distance between joy and depression is fragile. A short story. “What are you doing tonight?” He asked. “I think I’m going to write, do some yoga, drink some lemon tea, and try to head to bed early–I’m a bit tired.” It had been a long day. OrContinue Reading

The Bali journey: in photographs.

I’m a little bit at a loss for words. I’m back from Bali, landing back in the USA after a flight pulled me 13 hours backwards in time, depositing me into the winter hemisphere. While I was gone, our city decorated the streets of Brooklyn with holiday lights, and folks have pulled out their hatsContinue Reading

The power of breath: why breathing happens before anything else.

It’s not always easy to breathe. Breathing—the intake of oxygen and the exhalation of carbon dioxide—is life’s essential force. It’s the first step our physical bodies take towards making all other actions possible, including thinking. In swimming, the rhythm of breathing is essential: you only have a few opportunities to catch a breath; it’s aboutContinue Reading