I’m not being lazy — I’m hibernating.

Avebury standing stones for Charlotte Speller yoga blog

For someone who is driven, likes to achieve, learn new things and make stuff happen, November and December were difficult months…. until I tapped into the Winter Solstice.

At the beginning of November, I completely left the corporate world. I went from a very well-paid job,  to an exciting trip across india….  And then, the reality of life without the structured day job, or my ‘identity’ as VP Global Marketing left me confused. I found myself working all day and late into the night – helping out friends, rewriting my website, planning for yoga workshops and retreats in 2013, and I guess, stressing about what I thought I should be doing ‘now that I’m a yoga teacher’. Oh, and we decided to sell our house…

Frankly, I was doing exactly what I’ve always done – packing too much into the day, ploughing through without stopping and still running out of time! Then feeling bad about not achieving enough and neglecting, more often than not, the things that I really love to do. My own yoga practice for one! I’d gone into overdrive and not given myself any time to really take in the massive life changes I’d made.

The big shift

I’m a great believer that things happen for a reason and out of the blue, I got an invite to join a shamanic ceremony — I knew what I had to do…

21 December, 9:30am: I’ve done my yoga practice and I’m up and ready to head to Avebury — for ceremony. It was time to welcome the end of the Mayan calendar (not the end of the physical world!), and share some sacred space in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. I took my drum and my healing stones and off I went with my friends. Sounds a bit bonkers doesn’t it, and if you’d have asked me a few years ago, I probably would have agreed, but the fact is, I’ve always been drawn to Avebury – ever since I was a young girl. I grew up near there and apart from the obvious draw of the huge ancient standing stones, it felt good to be back. To stand on the land and soak up the atmosphere felt exactly right.

There were a couple of hundred people there. Just before 11am we all took our positions around the stones. Following my instinct, I stood with my friend on ‘portal’ side of the stones. Up on the bank. There we were, almost like guardians of the stones, of the land. The surroundings looked as wonderful as I remembered and for once the air was crisp and the sky blue. Yet, with all these people and the beauty around me, I felt strangely alone —vulnerable. Was everyone watching me? What was expected of me? Shouldn’t I be ‘doing’ something ‘spiritual’ here?…

As the whole group tuned in with a few OMs, I felt a shift inside. It was as if a weight had rolled off my shoulders, tears definitely rolled down my face! I had a vision of what I needed to let go of, and what I need more of in my life.

Quiet contemplation

On that bank, I was shaking off old habitual ways of dealing with situations. You know, like putting pressure on yourself to be a certain way, or be seen to be doing a certain thing. In that moment it was so refreshing to see people who really didn’t give a cr*p about any of that. They were just there to enjoy and go with the flow of the day. I finally let myself bob around to the sound of the drums around me, also not caring whether what I had offered up to the ceremony was right or wrong. As we walked around the outer edges of the stones, everything that had been confusing me — not having the old routine, the competitiveness of the corporate world, the perception I had of myself versus what I really am — got a lot clearer. It was as if the mirror that I’d been looking in was fogged up and I’d gotten a fresh cloth and wiped it clean.

Essentially, Winter Solstice is a time for going deeper inside. Gathering up everything that you learned throughout the year — and beyond. You take in the pleasurable stuff, and the stuff that maybe, at the time, peed you right off, but you take it all as fertiliser for things to come. It’s no coincidence that we make New Year’s resolutions in modern society at this time of year. That’s kind of what you’re you’re doing in Solstice. Luckily (in the UK, in any case) our nights are long, there’s natural darkness and it’s totally OK to get under the duvet, or sit cosily in front of the fire and select which seeds to sow for the year(s) ahead and discard the duds that are unlikely to bear fruit.

Powerful truth

For me, this Winter Solstice,  I looked candidly at that now sparkling reflection of myself. Without the snazzy job title that helped to define who I was for so many years, I had felt  lost. I’d also conveniently put myself inside the ‘a yoga teacher does this, this, and this’ box and slapped a honking great label on myself. Amazing how easy it is to do that — even when it’s the very thing you want to get away from. That’s not who I really am, and I needed time to cultivate the confidence just get on with life — according to Charlie Speller.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been quietly getting on with sifting through my seeds, reconnecting with who I really am and why the hell I did the ‘crazy’ thing of leaving the corporate world behind. It was to do something that I’m really passionate about, on my own terms and not to fit into a ‘box’.

So, I’ve made time for my own yoga practice, my husband and the people I love, and I’m not working all the hours of the day and night. Despite the driven, enthusiastic part of me that’s been dying to tell me how lazy I’ve been for the last couple of months — indulging in the odd lie-in, not frantically packing every minute of every day with ‘stuff’ to do — the rebel in me has been fighting against it. I’ve given myself the space to think, to figure exactly what I want to do next. I feel like I’ve taken time to recharge my spirit, the flame inside that makes me who I am, and I importantly, I’ve given myself space to get used my new life. I reckon I’m almost ready to come out from hibernation!

Not guilty

So if you’re like me and you find it hard to slow down. Maybe you feel guilty when you’re not working non-stop or committing your time to one cause or another. Perhaps you feel like you should be seen to be out partying or working a million hours a week (OK so that is a slight exaggeration), or both?… From what I know of myself, the more I fill my time with pointless distractions, or spend time with people that I’m not that bothered about, the less connected or focused I am on me. The less time you spend on finding your calling in life and the less likely you are to feel fulfilled.

So here’s what I say…. and it is easier said than done…. while the nights are still long and the days grey, tap into the power of winter. Give yourself permission to indulge in what will really make you happy — without feeling guilty about it (that’s the hard part, right?!). Give yourself time to hibernate, contemplate and get in touch with your instincts. Then you can truly wake up to the rest of 2013 with wholehearted passion, compassion and sense of adventure — on your terms. It’s totally yours for the taking!

11 responses to “I’m not being lazy — I’m hibernating.”

  1. Charlie – you legend! You have just encased a whole lot of restless, guilty confusions I’ve been feeling over the past 2 months in a perfect nutshell…I often think of winter as a time of hibernation, but have usually focussed on it more as a passive retreat away from stuff rather than a time to actively assess the old year in order to go forward with all the best seeds into the new one. A so much more positive way of looking at these dark days. Thanks. Also, this whole thing of guilt for not ‘getting on with things’ – aaaaaaargh – I spent so much time in my full time, challenging job wishing for a bit of breathing space – ‘to recentre’…now I’ve finally got so much time I find a million and one things to fill it with and a hundred things to worry about…going to have to readjust some view points and move some goal posts in 2013 I think! Watch this space. Keep up the brill blog Charlie. Tx

    1. So glad you can relate to it, Tabi. It’s crazy that we’re conditioned to do, do, do ALL the time. It’s not until I’d stepped away from the corporate whip, so to speak, that I realised that it was actually ME doing the self-whipping! Definitely keep me posted on your plans and happy 2013! 🙂

  2. Nicely done Charlie…my hibernation occurs in phases throughout the year, not necessarily linked to seasonal change, but more internal I think. Last year in fact my busiest time was through Nov/Dec…so I am now enjoying my warm straw bedding and long hours of resting… 🙂

    1. Colin, you’re spot on. Happy hibernation, go gather your strength for the next exciting part of the adventure! 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed this Charlie. The hibernation and reflection have obviously been very powerful. We of course don’t have the short dark days out here at the moment, but it’s a big time of reflection for me too and two big things I struggle with are my ‘identity’ now that I can’t say ‘talent development for a global bank’ (particularly how I feel I ‘contribute’ without that behind me) and how I slow things down for my girls to really flourish. It’s a little bit sad that it goes so hard against the grain to simplify our lives, remove the unwanted inputs and focus on what we hold dear and makes us happy. So maybe this is also a time for a little pat on the back – well done for taking that leap!!

    1. Hi Kate. I’d been talking about how high-level jobs can become your identity with a friend before Christmas, and then you mentioned something similar in your blog. It’s been on my mind over the past couple of months, and it really played out for me after I left my corporate ‘label’. Thanks for reading and please keep blogging too. You have made an amazing change in your own life, kudos to you sister! 😉 … Maybe we can work together in Oz someday?!

  4. This is a great article and really resonates with me – I gave up my job as an English teacher only a few months ago to focus all my attention on teaching yoga; I hadn’t realised until reading this how not having the ‘English teacher’ label anymore is making me feel quite lost and uncertain of who I am. Thank-you for sharing and inspiring. 🙂

    1. Rosalind, you are very welcome!

  5. I really enjoyed reading this article and I agree with your viewpoint. I am a fellow yoga enthusiast and this article was really intriguing. I particularly enjoyed reading through the opening ‘winter solstice’ and the ‘powerful truth’ paragraphs. Really detailed and it shows that yoga can be done anytime throughout the day and year. Great Article

    1. Thanks so much for reading and really appreciate the feedback! 🙂

    2. I’m here in 2020, and this post is speaking right to me! Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts!

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