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Concealment and Revelation: The Beauty of the Dark Season

tree branch at night illuminated by the moon

In the Tantra, it’s said that when Shiva closes his eyes (Nimesha), he conceals the entire universe within his own being. Sva Prachodhana is Shiva’s power to self-conceal. And when Shiva opens his eyes (Unmesha), the whole universe comes into existence. Sva Prakasha is Shiva’s power to self-reveal.

I recently had a conversation with a retired college professor of biology (28 years at Columbia University). He also happens to be my lane mate in US Masters Swim practice! We had breakfast together after a recent practice and I nonchalantly asked him, “What’s the origin of the universe from your perspective?”

He grinned widely and exclaimed, “No one knows! The scientific explanation is about as good as any religious explanation.”

Sirius- the brightest star as seen through a telescope

Even the brightest scientific minds have not found the reason or mechanism that made life emerge in the way that it did. They know that it happened and perhaps when it happened. But they don’t know how or why.

I immediately flashed to the Tantric teaching about how the universe was formed.

The idea that Shiva opens his eyes and the universe appears, and when he closes his eyes, the universe dissolves, seemed as good an answer as any.

Statue of Shiva sitting in meditation

If we are the universe on a microcosmic level, then how do we self-conceal? And how do we self-reveal? For me it happens on a daily basis. When faced with a challenging situation, my first reaction is often to doubt myself or shift into worrying about it. This type of reaction totally clouds my vision. I temporarily conceal my true nature which is infinitely creative. Then when I take my mind off the problem and do something completely different like go for a run or hop on my bike, often the light bulb goes off in my mind. Effortlessly the answer appears. Self-revelation!

sunbeams breaking through tree trunks in winter

December is the darkest month of the year. The light is concealed and this can evoke fear. Every year at this time we get another opportunity to face the darkness. Typically, darkness is associated with fear since in the dark we can’t see. We can’t see what evils or threats might be lurking in the shadows just waiting to pounce on us and eat us! Yikes! The unknown and the mystery is what’s scary.

The yogi knows that the darkness is really just the light concealed and it’s symbolic of the vastness of the void of all possibilities.

In other words, darkness is the source of our freedom. perhaps it IS our freedom in seed form. The seeds of our potential, our destiny, our greatness are buried in the rich dark soil of the void.

All creative ideas emerge from the mysterious, dark, void of the universe. But in order to believe this and let go of our fear, we need Shraddha, faith. We must cultivate a higher, intuitive, esoteric, sixth sense of faith in what we cannot see, hear, smell, touch, or taste. Just like the universe, this vastness of potentiality is beyond our senses and even beyond our mental capacity to perceive.

Yet, as yogis, we have the opportunity to go into the darkness with our eyes wide open. We seek to remember that we are all interconnected with threads of light and bliss. We are part of the fabric of all of life and the fabric contains threads of light and dark.

sunset behind a mountain

I believe that we need to reframe our experience of the dark season. I personally love this season. It reminds me of my ashram days, on retreat, going within for days at a time, many hours a day in meditation. When the sun goes down around 330 p.m., it forces me to shift my go-go-go energy. I begin to quiet down much earlier in the day. The setting sun triggers my brain to settle down and be calm. My daily rhythm slows down.

The dark is inherently restful not fearful. If you resist it, the dark can cause anxiety. We can’t see in the dark but I think we see ourselves even better in the dark. For instance, when we close our eyes, we can see ourselves better. We can feel and sense what we feel and what we need. When we close the windows to the outside world, we close out all distractions and can therefore focus on ourselves more easily.

We want to try and experience the dark season in the way in which it was intended – a huge deep exhalation of relaxation. The entire earth and all of nature seems to exhale and let go at this time. Nature goes into restorative mode, hibernation, self-healing mode until the warmth of the sun returns in the spring.

Remember that at the end of every exhalation is an inhalation.

And there would not be any light without the dark. We wouldn’t even know what light was. Contrast provides the possibility of knowing something. We can’t know day without night. There would no revelation without concealment. In this sense, we honor the dark as much as the light. They are both worthy of being embraced.

lantern outside in the snow with fairy lights in background

The promise of spring reminds us that the light will return once again. Knowing this deep in our bones, we’re able to step, although sometimes reluctantly, into the dark season with an open heart.

May you embrace the beauty of the dark season and see it as an opportunity to enter into the depths of all possibilities and divine creativity, and to plant seeds of intention of the heart virtues you wish to see grow in the garden of your heart!

I invite you to join me in the Ashaya Monthly Membership to come together and step into the current of grace and see the beauty of your one precious life unfold!

I love you. I adore you. And I offer you all of my support. I’m here for you!


Todd and the Ashaya Yoga Team

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