Category Archives: Reflection

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.

Have you changed your narrative lately?

As I wander through cities, one of the things I look for is evidence of fresh construction. Cities are living, breathing, pulsating organisms, and a great indicator of change is the number of cranes you can see dotting the skyline. In San Francisco, new construction emerges when the lack of residential units becomes absurd; inContinue Reading

Why is moving so hard? The struggle to lighten up, give up, and let go.

“Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris. Everything changes. I just emptied an apartment full of furniture, things, stories, and stuff. I carried couches, desks, and pieces of furniture up and down (and up and down) many flights of stairs across hillyContinue Reading

What to do about negative feedback.

Are you hungry enough? So I’m at home on a Saturday night, and I’m watching America’s Next Top Model, one of my guilty pleasures and trashy TV shows that I sometimes tune into (it’s that, Project Runway, and Suits that make me curl up with a bowl of popcorn after a long day). While you can holdContinue Reading

Creating your own weekly review: Robert Cooper on finding ways to be exceptional.

Living up to your potential sounds pretty fancy. It’s something we all want, right? Live up to your potential. Maximize your potential. Be all that you can be.  But how, exactly, do you do it? How does an intangible life objective become manifest into your daily routine? For Robert Cooper, author of The Other 90%: HowContinue 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

A little note on letting go…

Clear your plate. Let go of things that don’t serve you. That don’t inspire you. Give up things that aren’t working. Release. Let out a deep sigh. Pause. Inhale. Exhale. Take a shower. Dunk in a waterfall. Wash it clean, letting water drip down around you, pour over your head. Feel the world rinse you off, like aContinue Reading

Project hangovers, self-criticism, and the necessity of making messes.

I have a confession. Sometimes–more nearly like every time–after finishing a project, I hate it. My writing class? Sucks, obviously. Last week’s essay? Good God, that could have been better. All those open and empty drafts waiting to be finished? Seriously, could have worked harder to get those done.  And on and on… My brainContinue Reading

Darkness and light: why writing is an act of bravery.

“Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our life.” — Brene Brown Writing is an act of bravery. Each year, when I teach our writing workshops, I get to work with a small group of twenty-some writers, thinkers, and creatives. Inevitably, the process gets difficult in weeksContinue Reading

What’s in the trunk? A mysterious tunnel inside the house… and some of the things I’m so grateful for.

What’s in the trunk?   My dad just moved to Colorado and I’m here for the week, visiting for the first time. The cold, snowy mountains outside of Denver are filled with deer, elk, and other creatures that wander up to the backyard and say hello. (There’s also a new dog in the family that’sContinue Reading