If you’re like me, you get all fired up for the holidays – or maybe all stressed up, depending on your circumstances. Family, friends, gifts given and received, shopping and making food for the multitudes… it’s a lot to deal with. And even if you like Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, there’s a natural tendency to feel let down afterwards. No matter how successful, we all get to experience post-performance letdown.

I suspect that, as a society, we place such a premium on action and growth that we forget that we also live by cycles. That’s a universal law, and therefore inescapable. We see this in the pattern of day and night, the four seasons and the stages of human life. Everything in the biosphere follows its own cycle of birth, growth, maturation and death. Even stars and galaxies coalesce, expand (sometimes explode) and die away again. So why do we struggle so hard when activity stops and our way is not clear? Why do we find it such a challenge to simply let go and lie fallow for a season?

In both hemispheres, spring is the time for planting. In the summer, we tend the growing plants, adding water and nutrients, and subtracting weeds as required. Autumn is the time to gather in the gains of the year, sharing some and storing the rest. In the winter, we rest from the labors of the rest of the year, because there is less light, the soil is less responsive, and sometimes it’s just too cold to be outside. Traditionally, winter is the time we take to work on indoor projects – in my case, lots of knitting – and to catch up on reading, relationships, and other quieter, more internal activities.

It’s not just a question of our physical seasons; the point is that we also go through cycles of planting, growth, tending, harvest, sharing and storage in our lives as well as our gardens. Traditional farming involves rotating crops that feed the soil as well as drawing sustenance from it. In the traditional model, every three or four years a given field is left empty, and at the end of that year, the weeds are plowed under so their nutrients can restore the health and richness of the earth. In the advanced model, the fields are periodically sown with legumes, which add nitrogen back into the soil. If there is no fallow period, the land eventually gets exhausted, and can no longer support healthy growth. Rest periods are essential for future growth.

As humans, we need similar replenishment to restore the fertility of our souls and spirits. In academia, professors get a sabbatical every seven years to renew their imagination. Both Judaism and Christianity have the concept of the Sabbath, the weekly day of rest. In the Jewish tradition, there is a ‘Jubilee’ every seven years when slaves are released and every seven Jubilees there is a super-Jubilee means that ancestral lands are restored to its owner. Many Christians see the spiritual advantages of a retreat every now and then, giving time to reflect and set new goals. Zen Buddhists seem to seek that restorative contemplation every day!

So instead of feeling bored or frustrated at winter inactivity, perhaps we should grasp the opportunity for some down time. (Of course, if you’re a workaholic, you’ll probably work out a whole program of enforced relaxation and introspection, which is not the same as actually resting.) Enjoying fallow time is more about taking long baths… reading nonstrenuous novels… watching romantic comedies… finding new and frivolous ways to refresh yourself… allowing yourself time to sleep, relax, and play… It’s like the difference between an activity holiday and the kind where you just collapse on the beach. Both are great, but one can just be a different version of overwork, and the other is creating a space for you to do nothing. That ‘void’ or nothingness is something that we all require from time to time just to refresh and reboot the system. It’s like allowing yourself some more blank paper to develop new thoughts, new feelings and new inspiration.

How do you do this in practice? If you are usually prone to overwork or overwhelm, you may need to schedule in some downtime:

• Take 15 minutes at the beginning or end of the day to meditate, sit in silence, or simply take a walk without an agenda.
• At least once per week, set aside a two-hour chunk of time to rest and relax. Sit in the bath or a hot tub, go for a long walk in the country, or do anything that lets your mind rest.
• Let your winter be a time of lower activity. Schedule in a retreat or low-impact holiday; if your commitments don’t allow that, just let yourself relax in the evenings instead of pushing yourself to do more and more and more.

Above all, remember to breathe. As Zen Judaism says, “Breathe in; breathe out. Breathe in; breathe out. Forget this, and finding enlightenment will be the least of your worries.”

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Kyre Adept is a certified Geotran human programmer and integration coach, bringing your passion to life. Her practice ART of Integration is based in Santa Barbara; she helps high-flyers all over the world to create their rich, delicious lives. Find out how human reprogramming can help you soar! Sign up now for your FREE strategy session at http://www.ART-of-Integration.com.