Embracing the Inner Groundhog

I’m not going to live by their rules anymore.
– Phil Connors (Bill Murray in Groundhog Day)

I was born on February 2nd . . .

In my native South Africa, this is just another summer day. But in my adopted country, my birthday is associated with the beloved tradition of Groundhog Day. For those who don’t know, there’s a festival annually on February 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where a groundhog, named Phil, is pulled from his burrow and ‘consulted’ as to whether he sees his shadow. The tradition states that if Phil sees his shadow, then there will be six more weeks of winter; if he doesn’t see his shadow, it will be an early spring.

I’m not one to take a rodent’s weather predications to heart, but perhaps Punxsutawney Phil is on to something . . .

As 2018 came to a close, I felt excited about the fresh start ahead. Two debilitating injuries and challenging changes to my schedule and lifestyle had left me feeling spent. When New Year’s Day arrived, I came out of my burrow, was sure I’d seen my shadow, and decided I needed six more weeks before I could face the new year. I gave myself six weeks to reset my energy, vision, and creativity, so 2019 is my best year yet. While some seekers become teachers; all teachers are always seekers. I’m most certainly now and always, in a state of becoming . . .

How many of us ever give ourselves permission to hibernate?

Spending an extended period of time being as restful as we can afford, reading things that enrich our knowledge, and playing in ways to enliven our spirit, can seem extravagant and indulgent. At first it felt this way to me . . . and guilt crept in. But the more I settled into the time I was taking for self-care, I realized I’d emerged from one of the most transformative years of my life at a spiritual level. As an introvert, I’ve always been aware of my need for time alone to recharge my energy. But this newfound awareness is different . . . and would not be possible without the spaciousness I’ve needed to integrate it wholly.

I’d been so busy working on creating, embracing, or dealing with external changes last year, I never slowed down long enough to fully realize how much I’ve changed inside. And as my awareness about the depths of those changes penetrated my consciousness, my joy and gratitude multiplied exponentially. I feel good, really good, in ways I didn’t think were even possible for me, given the severity of some of my old wounds. Now, as my reset ends, I’m embracing my new awareness by paying it forward.

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

We’re all doers. We buzz around navigating jobs, children, homes, communities, and a world of relentless information that pulls on our time and energy. Mostly, we’re keeping up if we’re juggling well. Why does this seem healthy to anyone? We’ve collectively agreed to a pace that affords little time for the real practice of being human: evolving our consciousness as far as is possible in a lifetime. Perhaps acknowledging and integrating each shadow requires a period of hibernation . . . or at the very least, the conscious recognition that there’s a need to be met. My sense is if we were more adept at living consciously, we’d spend a lot less time needing to reset.

The ability to be conscious is a gift to human beings.

Do we squander the gift by choosing to shy away from our ability to engage our development with more awareness? How little we realize what’s vital to making that possible for each of us. And if we don’t slow down long enough to really feel and be with what that is inside, we’ll never be able to cover enough external territory to find the answers given the scope of options and the very precious time we have. We can make our shifts happen much faster and more effectively, if we slow down and just be . . . it’s actually the more efficient choice and certainly also the most nurturing.