I've recently been reflecting on the health benefits of darkness...yes, the dark, the opposite of light. Yesterday was the first new moon of the Astrological year. The new moon is often confused with the full moon, but to clarify, the new moon is when there is no visible moon in the sky. The darkest night of the month. In the Taoist tradition, new moon is thought to be the most Yin time of the month. Yin is also associated with the element of Earth, the season of Winter, night time and quieter more introspective energies.
This weekend I stayed in the Cotswolds for a few nights in an area without streetlights and I spent the nights relishing the velvety darkness surrounding me. Not even a glimmer of light from behind the curtains to disturb me. I found myself reminded of being child and being so afraid of the dark, that I slept with the light on. I was still sleeping with the light on into my early 20s...
So what changed?
I spent 18 months living in a converted bus, out in the countryside, with no street lights & for most of that time, no electric lighting at all. Within a few months of living this way, my menstrual cycle became the most regular it had ever been AND my menstrual cycle synced up with the moon cycle (bleeding on the new moon and ovulating around the full moon)- a phenomenon I had read about, but never experienced myself.
I spent a whole winter without electric light & no central heating, I truly experienced winter and started to understand the need for ALL of the seasons INCLUDING winter! I learned the importance of honouring this dark time of year, to be quieter, to look inwards, to rest!
Our bus became my sanctuary of darkness. If you've ever tried doing any everyday jobs by candlelight, you'll know how difficult it is! So, I learned that after darkness fell, so did activity levels.
In November 2017 I moved back into the city, into a house. At night street light streams through my windows. I notice I'm staying up later, keeping my laptop on after dark. Since I moved my menstrual cycle has been all over the place! I feel out of sync, my body struggles to determine night from day.
This weekend in total darkness felt like a treat! I'm left with the sense that I need to prioritise creating more darkness in my home to bring myself back into balance, use candlelight after the sun goes down & black out curtains.
In our busy, western lives we often live like it is Summer all the time, we tend to prefer the Summer over the Winter. Capitalism seeks exponential growth, a linear approach. We forget our cyclical nature & deny our need for rest. We use stimulants like caffeine to sustain our constant 'summer'. Living in this way we risk depleting our batteries & experiencing burn out.
So how can we find more balance?
- Become aware of the moon phases and try to take some rest on the dark moon (new moon) even if it's only for a short time!
- If you have a menstrual cycle, taking rest when you are bleeding.
- Avoiding stimulants after midday
- Using candlelight or low light after dark
- Shutting of our laptops/ screens in the evening, especially before bed.
-If you live in the city, using black out curtains or blinds or:
-Try using a eye mask (I love the 'mindfold' mask that allows you to fully open your eyes inside and drink in the darkness! This sends a message to your brain that it is time to rest.
I'll leave you with a quote I love:
'to rest is an act of radical rebellion' - Jewels Wingfield