Winter is the time of quiet. It is the silence following a blizzard. It is the time to go in and in and in. It is the time for slowing down and conserving energies. It is at this time that the seeds of the following seasons are planted. And it is in the darkness that they wait.

Many of us are afraid of the dark. Fairy tales and myths abound with monsters, demons and enemies that live in the dark places, waiting to spring out and get us. Wombs are dark. As are caves. The very bottom of the ocean is darker than the darkest night. These places are beyond the light of ordinary living and sight. And while this may set us on edge, if we deny or ignore the dark places, we refuse great potential and fertility.

Many traditions have a deeply reverent and appreciative relationship with the dark. A shaman is “one who sees in the dark.” The Hindu goddess Kali, the black, fierce and frightening one, is most beloved by her devotees who know her to be a loving and devoted mother. The dark goddess in Yoga is the one who clears the path for the light-filled goddess to bestow her blessings

It is not easy to be in the dark. It is not easy to be still. We are so frightened of what we might find “in there.” And yet, if we miss this part of life, we miss out on one half of our experience. For how can we know the light without the dark? It is in the dark that we are able to hear our small, still voice. It is in the dark that we learn to become attentive to ourselves and what is true. Being brave and patient enough to go there is akin to getting close to a wild animal. Close enough to pick up an owl stuck in a screened-in porch. Close enough to see a fawn trembling. There is magic in the dark places. We need this. Desperately.

This winter, make it a habit to just sit down. Do nothing else. Not even meditating, journaling or reading. Just sit and let yourself be. Do not look for anything. Do not try and figure anything out. Just sit. You will be amazed at what reveals itself to you.