Have you ever wondered why the seasons change, spiritually speaking? Over the years, I’ve noticed what I think must be a very good reason.
First, I suppose there must be some of you reading this, who live in parts of the world where the seasons don’t change that much (perhaps having only wet and dry seasons, for example). So perhaps your feelings about seasonal changes are different from mine or those who live in the Northern Hemisphere, in the more temperate or colder areas.
A little background: As a child, I enjoyed autumn, football games, and piles of colorful leaves to jump about in. Crisp cool nights and sunny days were fun, too. But all too soon, winter came, with coldness, wetness, darkness, grayness, and confinement indoors, for far too many months.
Winter is not my favorite season, for above all and to this day, I enjoy being outside as much as possible, but I do not appreciate shivering in the cold.
As the days grow shorter, the nights get longer, and the weather gets colder, our bodies and minds start adapting in different ways. In the past, I faced the colder seasons with loathing, praying for spring and summer to return again as soon as possible.
Being cold — bur-r-r-r-r. Don’t like it! Don’t want it!
Believe it or not, this fear of being cold almost kept me from moving to Ananda Village. In 1978, when I finally did move here, things were very different and our houses (if any) were sub-sub-standard and often poorly heated.
I had visited Ananda Village twice before, but always in the summer months. I deliberately came back in the winter, to see if I could see if I could stand to live here, that is, if I could measure up to being constantly cold in the winter. But then I looked around at the joyful, smiling faces at my first blissful Ananda Christmas (1977) which (naturally!) included especially intense cold, sleet, rain, snow, and so on, and said to myself, “If they can do it, so can I!” Thank God for that major life decision and the courage to carry it out.
I knew, without a doubt, that God and Gurus wanted me here, so I got myself a down parka, down booties, knee-high rubber boots, lots of long underwear, and a water-proof rain suit. I was equipped and ready to make my move.
And guess what? I found myself actually able to cope. Not always happily or uncomplainingly, but I made it through several very cold, wet winters, until finally our housing began to improve.
I met my husband at Ananda, and we were married in 1980. I tease him about my marrying him for his warmth. He was (and is) like a furnace — great to snuggle up to on a cold night. When, after several years, we got some electricity, I bought an electric blanket and told him he’d been replaced (just kidding).
But it didn’t take me long to notice some important spiritual aspects of this season. At Ananda, I began to feel a strong inner impetus toward being more inward during the colder months, to meditate more deeply, and to take some longer times of seclusion.
It is sad to contemplate that I might have continued to live my whole life in dread of the cold and dark, never gaining an understanding of how the cold seasons can have such great beauty and meaning for a sincere truthseeker. It’s a time when outer distractions can be overcome much more easily.
Now, as the leaves turn and the days grow shorter and colder, I begin to look forward to my upcoming yearly seclusion. I choose, as I have for many years, Thanksgiving week as my time to do it. It’s perfect for me for many reasons (see my article on from Clarity Magazine called: “Time Out for Seclusion,” And even when I’m not in formal seclusion, approaching winter now brings the joy of being inside myself more consciously, where the inner light dwells and the cold winds can’t really touch my soul.
So what can a seasonal change from warmth to cold, from longer to shorter periods of daylight mean for you? I’d suggest that you “winterize” your spirit with a stronger determination to meditate more deeply. And vow to take some quality time for seclusion. It’s the perfect time to do it!