It is evening now, and as we head towards the shortest day of the year, it grows dark outside my window before dinner. I feel like staying inside and out of the cold winds and snow laden grass and hills. It is time to hibernate as nature is inviting us to take a pause in our otherwise hectic schedules and constant activities and just sit in quiet space. In the past, this time must have been a blessing for those who felt a constant urge to overwork their minds and bodies to the point of exhaustion. Just 20 years ago, the absence of access to constant activity at late hours helped friends and families have more time to sit together. Students that had a tendency to overextend themselves would naturally be forced to let go and head to bed earlier. Today, devices that helped advance human civilization have also begun to interfere with a clear delivery of nature’s message:
“Slow down. Take a deep breath. Do one thing at a time. Listen to your surroundings. Sit together with family and friends.”
It’s not an unusual sight to see a group of friends gather for lunch, but somehow, the physical aspect of the gathering still does not fill the distance between them. This is because their minds are absorbed in phones that are ever-evolving to provide more addictive entertainment as each year passes and each new model comes out. We have all seen groups of people, sometimes including ourselves, sitting together but all busy in another world – on a text chain, an email, a website, on social media, a video game or on TV.
The tricky part is that the devices invented to make life easier often wrap their tentacles around and grasp onto our minds and message our bodies to keep asking for more pictures, news, emails, texts, tweets, instagram posts… until we have lost any recollection of a moment of peace here and now. Even if the cell phone or TV is off, it is still physically there – a reminder of what you could be missing out on. Countless pathways in the brain constantly light up. This constant possibility and presence of activity and stimulation can easily take all of us on a ride even in the pitch-dark of the shortest day of the year.
The irony is that, as nature rests around us, what we are all missing out on is a moment of peace here and now – complete freedom from activity available at the tip of our fingers.
This interferes with many aspects of ourselves and the quality of our moment-to-moment experiences: our ability to focus on what’s in front of us, finding joy in small simplicities, enjoying our meal and actually experiencing every bite of our meals, listening to others without mental distractions, trusting ourselves and feeling safe alone without the instant access to call others, trusting that our loved ones will be okay on their journeys without “over-checking in” by texting or calling during stressful (or not) times, enjoying a cup of tea with friends, and most importantly basking in the experience of a complete UNPLUG from the volumes of messages swirling in the air of intangible cyberspace around us.
And so, what I call “MODERN HIBERNATION” is not just beneficial – it is necessary! It is crucial as nature sleeps so it can harness energy and materials to give birth to a joyous spring and beckons us to do the same: hibernate so that we can harness and unleash energy that fuels focus, self-trust, creativity, and joy in our daily lives.
How do we hibernate in the modern culture? Read the action for this post to learn how you could try out modern hibernation.
Action for this post:
For Dec 23-31 and hopefully beyond…
- Try a 5-day TV fast. Turn the TV off, and listen to your surroundings – whether with family, nature, or a warm cup of hot chocolate by the fireplace or a candle.
- Place phones away at social gatherings and designate one or two people to take the pictures.
- Cut out the selfies and focus on others.
- Try an escape room with friends or family – it brings you into the moment as you work cooperatively to unlock a series of rooms.
- Bundle up and go out for fresh air.
- Meditate, practice breathwork, exercise, sleep on a consistent schedule, and eat in moderation.
- When eating, turn off or put away all electronic devices.
- Rather than signing into devices to keep checking on the status of orders, “trust the universe”. Things will either arrive or not arrive on-time – let go – there are only two options.
- NO WORK TALK outside of work. Set aside the talk that not only reminds you of emails, and phone calls, but also separates people into categories of socioeconomic and financial status and values others on their material successes and failures.
- Read at night or play a low key board or card game rather than watching TV.
- Take a news fast for 3 Days of your choice. Observe what happens when you don’t read the news for 3 days in a row.
- Take 10-hour screen fasts at a time (you don’t get to count sleeping hours!). For 10 hours straight, no looking at any screen.
- If possible, go talk to your friends or neighbors in person rather than on the phone.