We’ve had a deep hibernation this winter. No matter who I talk to, it seems this earth’s cycle brought us deeper into our own psyche’s solitude than in previous years. In the past week alone, I’ve heard friends say, “I’m in limbo”, “I’m in the void”, and “I’m completely empty… but comfortable with that!”
I truly believe we’re supposed to be hiding out right now, reformulating and regenerating, like the snoring, leafless trees. There can be so much guilt attached to this season’s mystery. After two or three months of unplugged sluggishness, we start to prod ourselves, forcing action. Time to wake up! We’ve been non-productive long enough! Yet we remain with the bears… in deep psychic hibernation. We can’t fight the earth’s clock. I can go outside and shake the trees and yell, “Give me green, dammit!” but they’re too busy sleeping, dreaming their spring growth into being, to care about my silliness.
When I disengage my mind, the driving hub of my constant need for productivity, I understand the potency of the winter. The stillness is powerful. Within it lies the generation of ideas, visions, manifestation, and insight. The quiet is pre-production time for spring’s big show, the season for explosive growth, birth, awakening, and action. Green galore and all the riches that come with it.
Right now, we’re in what William Bridges refers to as The Neutral Zone. He writes, “The activity of your ordinary life keeps you ‘you’ by presenting you with a set of signals that are difficult to respond to in any but the old way. Only in the apparently aimless activity of your time in solitude can you do the important inner business of self-transformation. But you don’t do it as you do ordinary things, for it is in the walking, watching, making coffee, counting the birds on the phone wire, studying the cracks in the plaster ceiling over the bed, dreaming, and waiting for God-knows-what to happen that you are carrying on the basic industry of the neutral zone, which is attentive inactivity and ritualized routine.” Extraordinary awareness, amplified and enhanced vision, and transformative experiences are common to the neutral zone.
I’ve learned to cherish the quiet.
It’s March 1st. In a few weeks the hummingbirds will make their return to my back yard, filling me with more energy than I can hold in this human body. But until then, and until I hear the arrival of the tiny green buds whispering to each other the incredible dreams they’ve had over their long winter’s sleep, I’ll remain in my quiet space, awakening more and more each passing day.
“I do my utmost to attain emptiness; I hold firmly to stillness. Do that which consists in taking no action; pursue that which is not meddlesome; savour that which has no flavor.” – Lau Tzu, Tao Te Ching