“Though my soul may set in darkness it will rise in perfect light. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” – Sarah Williams
Young children are often fearful of the night and adults report that their deepest fears present themselves in early morning hours. You may have personally experienced waking up in the middle of the night and having a thought that seems horrific and hopeless. When you wake up again a few hours later in the daylight, that same thought usually transforms into not that big of a deal. Our minds work with different material at the night than they do in the day.
Winter nights seem the darkest of all. For several days now, I have been waking up at 4am for a special round of seated meditation. I wanted to try this practice during Winter this year as often as I can as I have some deep work which must be done. Without getting too detailed, I will just say my present work is about silencing old fears and subconscious story lines that are not useful to me anymore. Sounds like the material of nightmares, doesn't it? It turns out this season is particularly supportive for this work. I do realize 4am seems early. The night is quiet and dark but it has also been a welcoming time. I sit on the edge of my bed wrapped in a blanket, light a small candle, and face towards the night sky just beyond my window.
So far, I have discovered when the world is asleep that I become acutely aware of my presence. I hear the fullness of each breath cycle. I also hear the sweet breathing of my cat sleeping nearby and appreciate his life. I notice the flicker of stars and trace the articulation of the tree branches beyond the perch of my 6th floor apartment. I can similarly watch my thoughts with precision and curiosity.
I have always lived with an early-to-bed-early-to-rise mentality but the Winter night has presented me with new possibilities in my meditation practice that daytime could not. Where the night meditation path will ultimately take me in doing my "work", I do not yet know. But I know that a silent night is an integral part of this new journey.
- TaraMarie Perri