Darkness falls early now. With each passing day I find myself surprised anew at how quickly the sunlight fades this time of year. I never seem to get used to it, even after decades of repeated exposure to the changing seasons! I long for light even as my body instinctively welcomes the darkness, wanting nothing more than to slow down and rest. It seems, at first glance, to be an uncomfortable opposition of forces, this longing for light and darkness at the same time.
Our culture tells us to go for the light. It convinces us to ignore any thought of slowing down and retreating into darkness; we are exhorted instead to do more, buy more, cook more, party more. We keep the lights on well past sundown in our homes and offices, forcing ourselves to maintain a pace that is completely at odds with the inner self who flows with the cycle of the seasons. We are a culture addicted to doing, producing, buying and achieving, and hidden beneath that addiction is fear.
We are afraid of the dark.
At a level below our conscious awareness, we are afraid that if we slow down and look into the dark corners of our lives, we will find ourselves lacking. We will stumble into a heap of evidence proving that we are flawed, we are lazy, we are mean-spirited, we are weak. We are simply not good enough. That’s what drove us into all the frantic “doing” in the first place: we wanted to avoid the pain of feeling “not enough,” and we wanted to prove to ourselves that maybe, if we worked hard and did all the right things, we could be enough.
So we turned away from our inner pain and marched into the glaring light of the outside world, steadfastly denying any impulse to come back in. And here we are, busily managing our to-do lists and planning midnight shopping sprees and double-booking ourselves for holiday parties, even as autumn fades gracefully into winter and our inner being calls out for rest. We’ve forgotten that periods of darkness and rest are essential to growth, creativity and life.
And we’ve forgotten something else. Deep within each of us, waiting quietly in the darkness, is an inner light. It is the light of our truest being, an eternal spark of divinity. In the words of Barbara Brennan in her best-selling book, Light Emerging: “It is your unique essence…the individuated divine within you.” As a student at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, this light was introduced to us as the Core Star, because those who are gifted with an expanded sense of visual perception actually see it as a brilliant, sparkling star in the very core of our bodies, a central point just below the heart. This is the light that awaits us when we are willing to turn away from the outer world of doing and rest within the stillness of Being. Burning brightly behind and beyond the darkness of our fears and doubts and judgments, it is the magnificent light of our true self.
I am reminded of a song from the play Godspell. (I dabbled in musical theatre back in the day, and Godspell was my all-time favorite play. It was a rowdy and rousing musical based on the gospel of St. Matthew. It may not have pleased biblical scholars, but we sure had fun doing it.) The song’s title was, “You Are the Light of the World,” and it was boisterous and uplifting. It had goofy lyrics such as, “The tallest candlestick ain’t much good without a wick,” and “…if that light is under a bushel, it’s lost something kind of crucial!” Yet the song somehow left a real and lasting impression on me. I loved the idea that each one of us is the light of the world, and it’s our job to tend our inner flame so we can shine brightly and brilliantly. That felt right and true to me.
Years later, as a senior at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, I rediscovered that sense of rightness and truth in Barbara’s teachings about the Core Star. It was thrilling to contemplate an inner light not just as a spiritual metaphor, but as an energetic reality. This Core Star is the divine dimension of our human existence. It is more real than our personalities and our bodies in that it is eternal, yet at the same time it infuses our personalities and bodies with our very “realness,” our uniqueness. The Core Star is the birthplace of our talents, gifts and aspirations. It is the everlasting flame of our creativity
Knowing I’ve got my own personal star within me has provided immense comfort during challenging times and an expanded sense of peace and possibility during good ones. This brilliant light can never be sick, dull, frustrated or depleted. It never whines or complains. It is never in a foul mood. (And it never has a bad hair day.) It radiates my highest qualities, my purest creative impulses and my deepest love. When I remember to connect with this light, it softens the rough edges in my psyche and warms me from the inside out. When I invite and allow this light into my life, life becomes lighter. I become lighter
And so this is how I reconcile the seemingly opposite longings for darkness and light as winter approaches. I make time for physical rest and meditation. I slow down and turn my attention inward. As my swirling thoughts begin to settle, I close my eyes and allow myself to simply be still in the velvety darkness. I breathe as deeply and slowly as I can without forcing my breath in a particular way. And then, ever so gently, I focus my attention on my Core Star. I imagine that with each breath I take, it becomes brighter, stronger and more radiant. With each breath I take it expands, infusing every cell and fiber of my being with its celestial glow. With each breath I take, I am lifted out of the darkness and into the light.
It is a simple yet powerful meditation, and one I hope you will try. Even if you don’t embrace the notion of a core star within you as “real,” focusing your thoughts on it as a symbol or metaphor can be calming, inspiring and enlightening. Take some time to consider your light. Pause and honor your gifts, talents, passion, willingness and courage. Step back to rediscover what the holiday season means to you, and how you wish to express that meaning in your life. Slow down enough to notice what moves you deeply. Consider what you are longing to create or experience in your life. Reflect on all you have gained from previous creative endeavors, and all you have learned. See, feel and know yourself as the highest and best you can be.
There is magic in the changing of the seasons. As the days of autumn become shorter, allow the waning of outside light to remind you of the radiant and loving light within you. Allow the light within you to ignite your mind with clarity and truth. Allow your unfettered truth to choose what is important for you to do – and not do – this holiday season. And allow this holiday season to be a celebration of light, your light. Because you are the light of the world.