Harnessing the Power of the Fallow Time

As I write this, we are a week out from another turning of the wheel. October 31 – Halloween/All Hallows Eve/Samhain – marks the halfway point between fall and winter – or between spring and summer if you live in the southern hemisphere. And the feeling that I have been hearing about from many women in my tribe, and in fact have been feeling myself, is a sense of dis- settlement. Of feeling a bit lost.

While much of this is likely due to what’s been going on in the world as of late – from violence to natural disasters – I think much of it stems from within. We are feeling disconnected from ourselves, uncertain of what our future in an ever-turbulent world may hold. And while we may be feeling a little fear and trepidation around this, know that this is perfectly natural and is part of life‘s many cycles and rhythms. It’s called the Fallow time.

“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” – Barbara de Angelis

Back in the days when we were hunters and gatherers and lived a much more agrarian lifestyle, the end of October, for those in the northern hemisphere, marked the last of the three Fall harvests. The ground had started freezing at night by this point and the gatherers knew that this was the last chance to glean their crops before they lost them to Winter frost. If you are an avid gardener as I am, you may have found yourself recently cleaning out the garden beds as the temperatures have started to dip below freezing at night time.

I think this “last chance” feeling is what many of us are struggling with right now, what’s causing this dis-settlement and lost-ness. We feel like we’re losing our “last chance” – even if we aren’t certain of what it is we’re losing – and we’re not sure of when our next chance or opportunity will come. But just as the wheel turns and the seasons change, know that this fallow time is part of Mother Nature’s natural cycles and rhythms. Instead of constantly striving, forcing, and doing, perhaps we ourselves would benefit from our own Fallow time.

The thought of having a fallow time for ourselves might be a little anxiety-provoking. After all, most of us live in a culture that prides itself on doing, performing, and producing. We may have a voice – that inner critic – in the back of our mind saying “Fallow time?” Doesn’t that mean you’re just doing nothing or being lazy? No, quite the opposite. As Mother Nature turns her face to Winter in the northern hemisphere and prepares to go within, so too we must turn our faces within and truly decipher what it is that we most need and want at this time in our lives. 

“Fully occupied by the process of achieving innumerable goals, we lose the ability to determine which goals really matter, and why.” – Martha Beck 

I’ve never been a fan of Winter, I’m not going to lie. I don’t like cold weather, I’m not crazy about having to drive in or shovel snow. Yet, I decided that this year, as we approach this final harvest, I might benefit from a slight mindset shift. What if I gave myself permission to enjoy this fallow time? After all, I know that just as fall turns to winter, winter will turn to spring, and the cycle will begin again. So it’s not like it’s going to last forever; after all, it’s only a season of 3 to 4 months. Instead of fighting or resisting the winter – the fallow time – what if I gave myself permission to look forward to it? To plan indoor activities for myself that I find soul-nourishing and enriching? What if instead of bundling up and going out in the snow and forcing myself to be cheery at yet another holiday party, I allowed myself to do what I really wanted to do – hole up inside and read a good book or paint or journal to my heart’s content? 

I’m not saying that every moment of my fallow time will be spent reading, journaling, and painting, as much as I might wish to do so. I too have roles, obligations, and responsibilities. I too have a job and a family to take care of. Rather, it’s more of an attitude shift for me. Instead of trying to fill the void of those empty spaces left by summertime activities or trying to come up with new activities to replace those that I cannot do when it’s cold outside, what if I stopped fighting it? What if I allowed winter to be winter and allowed myself to finally enjoy it? Or better yet, what if I stopped planning every single moment of my life and just allowed myself to simply be – to check in with myself in those moments of quietude? What if I approached my “down time” with a question: “What do you most want to do right now?”

Now, if your inner critic pipes up with some reason why you shouldn’t be creating more time for you right now, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I feel rooted and grounded right now or do I feel like my energy is all over the place? – If you are feeling scattered, this is when you most need to go within and reconnect with yourself, figure out what you want and why.
  • Do I feel centered? Balanced? In harmony with the flow of life? – Again, if the answer to any of these is “no,” that is a sign from the Universe that you need to focusing on regaining that sense of balance and harmony with yourself.
  • What do I most want to do right now? – Keep in mind, the answer “nothing” is a perfectly valid option here…

Let me know in the comments below.

If you are looking for a little more help reconnecting with your own voice of wisdom, remember that you can grab your copy of my Reconnecting with Your Intuition self-study course, on sale through the end of October.

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