When I originally posted the January Hibernation retreat, it was early fall. At the time, I was in an extremely overwhelming work vortex and hibernation sounded like a fabulous idea. I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it—  the theme welled up from wherever ideas arise, it resonated, and that was that. Come January, when we actually gathered, I felt good in the knowing that yes, hibernation was necessary. Why? Resources for thriving had become scarce. A refuge from challenging conditions was needed. It was time to conserve energy, and figure out how to rebuild from within what we’d allowed to be depleted from without. Check, check, check. All the yes.

It was a very, very special weekend. Four days filled with good company, great food, honest conversation and a fair bit of time spent horizontal on a bolster left everyone feeling replenished and renewed— as well as committed to making some internal changes regarding dealings with the outside world (and the other humans) in order to sustain the effects of this physical and energetic reset. Without a plan and a promise to self, habit could easily find one returned to the “real” world and quickly back to system depletion.

As usual, there was some deep, sweet magic at play during our time together–  from the people gathered to the flow of our days. The archetypes we followed took us from the outside, in, and back again. Perhaps its a helpful path for you to follow for mid-winter self-reflection as well.

The Sustainer- There exists a force in the universe through which there is always the potential to be sustained. From every choice we make to our depth of connection to nature and spirit, we allow ourselves to be refilled or we expend more than we have to offer and find ourselves with an empty tank. There is wisdom in knowing when you need to step away for retreat, and/also it’s possible, and sure would be nice to want to step away instead of need to step away. Are you tapping into the energy that sustains you?

The Mirror- What is a mirror for but to reflect an image back to you? Tricky. As we talked about in the most recent Dharma & Satsang on avidya, the mirror doesn’t show you your Self, it reflects back to you a body, a face, a set of clothing and an environment that unfortunately most of us readily claim as ME. Turned on its head, the mirror is a reminder of what’s on the outside and begs us to go deeper to see what’s on the inside, where the truest, biggest self is to be found. Are you limited and stuck in the external trapping of appearances?

The Vow- We spent some time thinking about the vows, promises and agreements we have made, kept and broken. Perhaps more importantly, we brought to light the truth that we are all operating under agreements and promises that we didn’t consciously make— ones that we inherited through family or culture or habit. It’s an ongoing process to review and re-review just what those agreements are and create ritual around placing those vows that no longer serve us into the fire for transformation. This is difficult to do in the day to day grind. We don’t have the time, energy or perspective to see clearly. But in the wide open space? If we take the time to look, we can see things as they are. What promises bind you and are they tethering you to your Self or to an old way of being?

The Threshold- I suppose we regularly find ourselves at potential thresholds: stepping over a line, changing spaces, beginning anew. And maybe that’s exactly the point. We always have the chance and choice to start again. This felt especially relevant as everyone prepared to leave. I reminded them: no matter how full and changed you feel at this moment, you are about to return to things exactly as they were when you left. And that world and those people are all pretty heavily invested in you returning to the same flow you left four days ago. Choose wisely. Where in your life do you feel you are at a precipice, ready to step into something new? What thoughts, choices, attitudes and people support your forward movement?

It’s all pretty simple. Pause. Be reminded that life doesn’t have to be You Against The World, You In Charge Of The World, You In Control (of anything) or You Doing It All, All By Yourself, At Any Cost. Sustenance is available. Pause again. Please remember that you are so much more than what you see in the mirror. Pause and go deeper still to notice what storylines are guiding your life: are they in alignment with what is most true for you now? Finally, not only is nothing permanent, YOU are the maker of your life, and every day, and every breath is a chance to start again– to make that life the life you dream of. Dream BIG.