Reclaiming the Fallow of the Year

adjective: fallow
(of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production. 
uncultivated, unplowed, untilled, unplanted, unsown, unused, dormant, resting, empty, bare.

In our northern climes, before the advent of artificial sources of light, the months of winter were a long dark time. Nature too, took her rest and for our farming ancestors, there wasn’t much to do on the land. Long nights and cold days meant folks got a break from the busyness of life and entered into a more timeless time, where the stillness without, encouraged a slowing down, uncovering a stillness within. It’s the place before the formation of ideas; before an opinion or comparison arises. It's the origin of intuition, inspiration, improvisation, and creativity.

What did our ancestors do during the long winter months? Told stories, stoked the fire, made love, slept, painted, played music, cooked something hearty, and bundled up and took walks.

Modernly, the lights are always on, figuratively and literally. Some agree that we have lost something important to our well-being when we convert all of our time to the activities of the light.

Practices for the Dark of the Year

Slowing down.
Doing a single task with all of your attention gives you a needed break from the jar of constant distraction. Doing a thing, wholly, brings its own kind of joy and you can learn to rest again in the gentle peace of everyday things. When you’re sitting with a friend, give them your full attention. If you are walking, just walk. If you are sautéing onions, notice their color and smell as they cook, the rhythm of the spoon in your hand.

Give yourself time to do nothing.
This winter sit in candlelight, stare into a fire, go outside and watch the moon and stars, listen to the rain falling, sit by the ocean and watch the waves roll in and out, sit on a bench and watch birds and passersby, sit by a lake or a river and notice the insects and trees.

Put down your electronic devices.
Of course. Of course! A couple hours before bedtime, or for a period of time early in the morning as you are waking, put away your devices and the sounds they make to alert you of emails and phone calls.

Sweet sleep restores our bodies and allows the mind to rest, to dream, to let the intelligence of all things find its way into our consciousness.
Anywhere. A short nip out, or a long walkabout, it’s what our bodies are meant to do. It reminds us of the true pace of life and shows us the aliveness of the world.

Make Love.
No explanation necessary, right?
Be quiet and listen. Notice when judgments and opinions arise, when you are comparing yourself to others or complaining about unimportant things. Then, just return to the place where you are standing and keep listening.

Cook simple meals and share them together.
Find a local farm, bakery or supplier and and gather some things that look good to you. Learn to cook a few seasonal meals that you will enjoy making. The simpler, the better.

Notice what has already been given to you.

You are given this life as a human being, each of your senses, this fine body, the moon and the stars, the green leaf and watery sea, and each other.

You may notice that I didn't mention meditation once. That's because when we pay attention, all of these things are meditation.

May you truly enjoy the blessings of this season,