Monday, January 5, 2015

The Benefits of Hibernating

Sleeping Bear - Little brown bear cub sleeping in his bed

Now that the last box of ornaments have been put away, and the last Christmas cookie eaten, I am free to journey into that wonderful state of being known as hibernation. The bears aren't the only ones who benefit from hunkering down for the winter and going within to dream of spring, sunshine and happy days outdoors. For generations Native Americans took a page from their brother bear's playbook and used the winter to prepare for spring by repairing their gardening and hunting tools and drying seeds to plant.  But they also used the time to sit around the fire and tell stories that gave the little ones the inner tools they would need to know in order to grow into responsible adults while keeping their heritage alive.

We can use our "dream time" in exactly the same way. I make it a point to watch little or no TV (which I have been doing less of as the years pass anyway- except I seem to be hooked on a program called Tiny House Nation). I pick a topic that I've always wanted to learn more about and use the Internet to teach myself about it, or I learn a new skill, or I do some intense journaling while exploring some idea, emotion or belief that I want to work on. I envision how I want my life to work and then explore what I need to do to get there. Living as I now do out in the country, I venture out for church and grocery shopping only and spend a good deal of time watching the drama of a winter in nature unfold outside of my window - who needs TV? I spend more time reading, praying and meditating, and prepare myself good, healthy foods, something I am in need of after the excesses of the holidays. In short, I treat myself as I would a valued guest in my home.

I admit that not everyone can do what I do as I am retired and do not need to go out to a job every day. But even when I was working, I would limit my time outside of the house in winter  to only those things I absolutely needed to do and combined my to-do lists, like grocery shopping on the way home from work, so that I could spend as much time as possible in  my winter "cave." I usually came out of my hibernation in the spring with a leaner, healthier body, a calm and focused brain, and energy to spare as I ventured back out into the sunshine.

So here's to hibernation. Why not give it a try and see what the bears have been enjoying all along!

And so it is.