This time of year I mostly want just to hibernate. Waking up is only slightly more challenging, but everything after that seems to take more effort and sleeping always sounds like a good idea. This is usual for me as winter nears. Winter, with the exceptions of a few holidays, is a time of the year when things are drawn back – drawn in. Minimized. I’m feeling like doing the same.
I’ve been going through emails – catching up but also sorting out and getting rid of ones that either serve no real purpose or that I should just let go to the trash box. I have done the same with text conversations. My phone will hold something like 200 unique conversations, each containing a maximum of 200 messages. Similar cleaning is being done as I pull out some of my cold-weather garments (I don’t hold on to many). It was also happening as my beloved an dI prepared our home for welcoming guests to our annual pumpkin carving party. It feels good to downsize.
For me, this “winter feeling” brings to mind Hinduism’s concept of pratyahara. Withdrawal from the senses. I think when this happens, it might – from the outside – look a bit like winter. The yogi who has mastered pratyahara is able to clearly distinguish between his Self and his self, the latter of which is strongly attached to the senses that perceive the external world. I don’t think it’s entirely accurate, but I know that the more in touch with my Self I am, the less I “need” the external world and I’ll admit that I picture the outward appearance of pratyahara on an individual to look like something drastic – severe, and not unlike the harshness of winter (at least winter as it sometimes is here in Indiana). That’s how I picture it – like someone who’s about have his arm burned off and not miss it. Someone who no longer feels hunger or thirst. Think of the sadhus who “kill” part of their body as a function of their sadhana… like holding an arm upward, stiffly, for 20 years. It’s a severe practice and and the arm eventually looks more like a dried tree branch than an arm.
As we head into colder weather, I’ll be focusing more on my own Me. I’ll be building on my asana practice, performing more japa, and reading reading reading. With warm-weather distractions like rivering and tree climbing with the best in local parks, among others, out of the way, I’ll enjoy devoting more of my precious and relatively rare free time to working on myself and developing sight of the inner Sun that will foster warmth in the coming winter.
Hibernating feels like the thing to do. But now isn’t the time to be lazy. Now is not the time to sleep.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha