One of the many beautiful lessons I learned while living in the forest was the value of light. True light. And true darkness.
We so easily flick on the lights when the sunshine begins to dim in the evening—and turn them off only just as we crawl into bed. And when we rise, it is either to a sun already risen—or to simply flick on the lights once more. Seldom is there a time that we live by the sun’s rules, and those times, I guarantee you, are the times you’ve experienced the most vividly.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like every memory I’ve ever made beneath the moon are some of the purest, most clearest to recall. Same with firelight: a candlelit dinner, a bonfire outside, a wood stove. That being said, you’ll understand how every day I lived with only a wood stove for heat and mainly candles for light was crisp and memorable.
But under these fluorescent bulbs? The TV constantly on? The house so tinted with false-brightness that I don’t even know if it’s day or night outside? I am numb to everything. I feel I can’t remember any of it.
Not to mention how much better I slept when my body was not artificially stimulated by light that isn’t supposed to be there; and likewise, in the morning, being given a rage of natural energy with the rising sun. Have you ever experienced that when camping? It’s the most wonderful, natural feeling to have our bodies synchronize with the sun.
It is possible to incorporate many of the same rituals I had living off-the-grid into this new lifestyle. I’ve already done it. When I first moved into this house, fresh from the forest, I was diligent on keeping the same rituals I had there. I woke earlier than the sun and embraced the darkness with pleasure, awaiting the sun’s first rays with only a flame’s light for company. How many sunrises I witnessed! How enlivened I was. But somehow I fell away from that practice and began to flick on the light for convenience. I haven’t watched a sunrise or felt as awake since!
I feel desperate to return to this practice once more, and what better time is there than June, when light is most abundant? Fortunately for me (and you, if you’re willing) I wrote down my entire Light Ritual before I fell away from it, so as to always remember it. I invite you to try it along with me…even if it’s for only one day a week! I’d love to know in the comments if you’ve given it a go, and what you thought of it.
THE LIGHT RITUAL
Try going as long as you can without turning on artificial lights. Rely on what faint glow of sunlight there is, firelight, or your own intuition and senses to guide you in the dark. This is especially difficult, but even more powerful, in the winter. Feel yourself awaken more and more as the sky changes color.
Start your day with a candle. As you light it, speak aloud your intentions for the day and allow them to fill the space with your flame. Use the candlelight until the sun rises, if it is not light already. Use it to walk around through a dark house without turning on the lights, and to complete tasks such as brewing your morning coffee and writing down your day’s to-do list.
If it’s a sunny day, spend at least one moment—even if you’re at a traffic light in your car—feeling the sun upon your skin and honoring the energy that fills your body from it. Without the sun, we would not exist.
As the day fades into night, try to avoid turning on artificial lights for as long as you can (like you did in the morning). Limit the artificial lighting to the more scrupulous tasks, such as cooking and cleaning, should you need it. Allow the gaining darkness of the sky to slow your body and make you drowsy. Light candles for a cozy ambiance to dine by, and keep them burning until it is time to retire to bed. If there is a moon, find a spot of moonlight to stand in and say aloud your gratitude for the day, projecting it up to her face. If there is no moon, close your day when you blow out your candles.
Once a month have one night where you don’t light any artificial lights, and have your family spend the evening huddled together with candles and a board game, or around a bonfire outside. No electronics. See how well you remember that night for the years to come.
(Not only is this practice beneficial for your health in many ways, but it's also beneficial to your power bill AND to the planet) xo