Friday, May 29, 2009

We need darkness as much as we need light. It’s a funny thing to think about isn’t it? Because sometimes we focus on sunlight, the hours of light in the day, yearning for the sun when it’s cloudy or grey. We read in bed, watch TV to fall asleep, get used to the glow of the computer. But the darkness, the absence of light, the black that surrounds us to the point where we can bathe in it and feel comforted by it, it’s a necessary part of our daily rhythms.

Our body (specifically our pineal gland, perched deep within the base of our brain) produces melatonin, one of the hormones important in our sleep cycles, in the presence of darkness. Not in the presence of light, but in the presence of darkness. This is why turning off the lights, bathing ourselves in darkness is crucial to our health. This is why spending time in a dark room to fall asleep, or even standing outside in the darkness is part of the ritual action necessary to help us sleep.'

Blanketing ourselves in darkness. Try it for deeper sleep.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

We sometimes forget that there is one relationship that we will have our whole lives, and that’s our relationship with ourselves. It extends from our first breath to our last and no other relationship we have lasts as long. Not our parents. Although as I write this, both my parents are thankfully alive so they’re currently matching me in terms of that relationship. Not our children (while I don’t have any at the moment), because we have a life before they do. Not siblings, or partners, or friends or pets. My sister is four years younger than I, and although she is in my heart and frequently in my thoughts, it is my own breath that I hear, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. And on it goes.

And when we think about the relationship we have with ourselves, how do we treat ourselves in that relationship. Is it functional, dysfunctional, abusive, difficult, happy, unhappy? What do we do to cultivate it, to keep it going, to make it memorable, enjoyable, delightful. How do we honor ourselves, take care of ourselves? Are we creating a relationship that we want to be in, that we long to come home to? Are we creating a relationship that is home, for our body is what we inhabit always, all of the time?

When I frame things in this way, thinking about the relationship I have with myself, it makes me stop and pause more frequently. Am I talking to myself in a way that I would talk to someone else that I cared about? In a way that I would want a loved one to talk to me? Am I serving a meal that I would be proud to offer? Am I inviting a level of love and care and fortitude and gratitude? Am I the lover and the beloved?

Tonight I served myself a meal that I would be proud to serve to another: beets, fennel and leeks sautéed in olive oil and rosemary. Salad with sunflower sprouts and farmers market lettuce and radishes and crushed pepper and olive oil. I was cooking and preparing for only myself, knowing that there was no one more important than I to share this meal. And if there had been another, the reverence I had for them would have been a reflection from the mirror of my own self-love.