Can you feel that darkness closing in on us? These last few days before the winter solstice can affect each of us in relatively predictable patterns, can’t it? Some of us feel a hum of anxiety running through us, jumping from activity to activity-shopping, partying, eating, decorating, eating, shopping, worrying, eating. And others of us feel the drumbeat of a low level of sadness, welling up in our chests as the blanket of night cloaks itself around our daylight hours. Still, there are a few who feel that this is the happiest time of the year, and they seem, at least outwardly, unfettered by the increasing darkness. Whatever your personal response, it is true that we all share this experience together as our dear earth hurtles through space on her tilted axis.

Yes, we are all in it together-not only the good people who walk this planet with us today, but also together with our ancestors’ deep and repeated experience of watching the sun’s light diminish. This poses the very real question–how can we maintain balance in the face of thousands of years of DNA that whispers fear and sadness this time of year?

How about this for a radical idea: Take a break. Uhhh… you might say, Have you seen my To Do List? I know, it is a crazy idea to take a break in the middle of all the chaos, especially this time of year. Yes, crazy, but sometimes, Crazy wins. If you can return to your life’s demands with a renewed spirit, doesn’t that make the work more efficient and ultimately, more enjoyable? And if you take on your activities with more joy and less stress, doesn’t your whole being, your family, your community benefit? A break may simply mean getting up a couple minutes earlier to put your legs up on the wall (Viparita Karani on the wall). Those few minutes of sleep you sacrifice will offer a huge pay-off if you spend the first moments of your day in this or another restorative pose (email me if this is confusing and you want help getting into the pose). It may mean disciplining yourself to check email only a scant few times a day, rather than at each red light and more. After all, email usually requires a response of some sort, and often can unwittingly pull on our energy. It may mean practicing yoga at home, or coming to our class and moving energy together with like-minded people. It may mean not picking up the phone if you know on the other end will be, let’s just say an energetic vampire that, intentionally or not, drains your vital source energy. It might even mean, instead of saying “Oh, Okay”, when your heart isn’t in it, you actually say “No”, and offer no apologies.

By gathering your own energy intentionally, you can purposefully spend your energy in ways that make your heart sing, that bring you pleasure, that turn on the light inside you. You won’t squander this spectacular resource we call our own internal light by pleasing others, by putting yourself down, by indulging in the distractions.

As we enter these darkest few days ahead, take courage and root those beautiful feet of yours into the earth. You belong firmly on this planet, on this path that you call your life. Shine your internal brightness, that gorgeous energy that only you have the power to turn on or off.

Wishing you all the love, sweetness and light that life has to offer.