Why taking time to pause and reflect is good for you and the significance of doing this on the eve of a New Moon.
With the busy pace of modern life it can be easy to ignore the waxing and waning of the moon. Yet the lunar cycle is another opportunity for us to reconnect to the natural world and in doing so benefit our own well being. The New Moon is considered to be the first phase, or beginning of the lunar cycle. A New Moon comes about when the moon, moving through its orbit it comes to be on the same side of the earth as the sun. This positioning means it is generally not visible in the sky and is the complete opposite to a full moon, when the full side of the moon facing the earth is fully illuminated.
The connection between the phases of the moon and human behaviour has been written about many times. It only takes a quick google search to discover studies that may show evidence of this. Whilst some of the evidence is sketchy, there does seems to be support for the idea that a full moon is likely to cause both slightly less sleep and a lighter sleep than average. This certainly is the case for me and it seems likely to assume that the more sensitive among us may feel the effects of this more acutely. Whether the phase of the moon physically affects you or not, the continual cycle of the moon and its oscillation between full illumination and darkness offers two natural points of pause in the somewhat hectic nature of life and a chance for us to reflect and reassess.
So the New Moon then, being at the very start of the lunar cycle can be useful as a symbol of new beginnings. With the New Moon being one associated with darkness, owing to its position between the sun and the earth, it is an opportunity to invoke the qualities of going within, rest and quietude - something that can be beneficial before the beginning of a new cycle. Our ancestors were much more in tune with the natural world and rhythms such as the moon cycle. So they would have likely had moments of reflection as part of normal life. This is something I think we have forgotten. As our lives have become more full and as we cram almost every inch of time with 'stuff', our connection with ourselves and the natural world has been lost a little, perhaps to our detriment. Taking time to pause and reflect is so important, here are a few reasons why...
The need for rest is perhaps the zeitgeist of our time. Good quality rest is something we are all in need of. The over-work culture that is so deeply ingrained in our psyche has put us out of touch with the joy of deep, plentiful rest. We still confuse rest and relaxation with laziness, which is still very much frowned upon. We have been fed the message that productivity is to be prized and praised, and even confuse our own self worth with how much we contribute or earn. Rest is important for all systems of the body, but crucially it needs to be rest of an intelligent kind. It can be tempting to assume that a veg in front of the sofa, with some chocolate treats is an indulgent way to rest (and sometimes this is what needs to happen), but investing in rest that really allows our system to spiral down and come back to base is on a whole other level. Using the New Moon (or Full Moon) as a time to meditate, take a guided relaxation or just spend 20 minutes wrapped in a blanket watching the stars could be the best way for you to enter in to this kind of rest.
Integration is the process of combining and amalgamating two or more things. As humans, we are constantly learning, evolving and changing as we mature. By taking a regular time to pause we are allowing the process of integration to happen fully, which can in turn allow us to grow in the way we are meant to. If you think from a physical point of view, a muscle when in constant use becomes tight and tense, which funnily enough inhibits further development of more muscle tissue. When allowed to stretch and rest, the muscle is then capable of building more tissue. We are the same! Think of the phrase 'let me sleep on it' when faced with a decision. This is literally giving the brain time to integrate all that it has absorbed, so that the best decision can be made taking all into account. As we enter adulthood, while our physical growth may have slowed down, our mental, emotional and spiritual growth continues. Give yourself the best chance for this to happen by taking a regular time to stop, reflect and integrate all that you have learned so far.
Connection, Reflection & Growth
A wonderful plus point of stopping to pause for the New Moon (or Full Moon) is the space it creates for us to reconnect back with our core selves. The labels and roles we take on can momentarily be put to one side - mother, father, daughter, son, wife, teacher, nurse, etc can fall away as we tune in to our centre, our true selves. In the day-to-day we can get so caught up in these roles we play, that our identity can become entangled and we can forget our true self. Connecting with our most truest self is one of the most important things we can do. By not doing this regularly, we can end up living in ways that do not fully support us, or that are not aligned with our true nature - we can feel like we have lost ourselves. The truth is, we are never really lost, we just need to make the time to reconnect. When we do this, we allow space for reflection where we can ask whether we are living in a way that works for us. We can ask ourselves if there is anything we need to change, let go of, or bring in. In this way it allows us to grow and blossom in line with our purpose and true nature. This, I believe, brings a deep sense of joy and peace.
If you are new to the whole process of doing a Moon Reflection, or Ritual below is a little guide of how I shall be doing mine that you might like to try out. There are lots of suggestions out there on the internet, but I like to keep it simple. I would love to hear how you get on, so please leave a comment if you decide that tonight's New Moon (or an other future moon phases) leads you to pause and reflect.
Simple Steps For a New Moon Reflection
* Find a quiet, clear space, preferably once the sun has set.
* Create an atmosphere that invokes the qualities of reflection, calm and inner focus. This might be lighting a candle, burning some incense to cleanse the space, having some freshly cut flowers nearby, using aromatherapy oils and crystals (clear quartz, moonstone, obsidian and peacock ore are all good).
* Have something ready for writing or drawing - a nice journal and a pen/pens that you enjoy using.
* Spend a few minutes, simply sitting quietly. Focus on relaxing your body and bringing your breath into a calm, steady rhythm.
*Once relaxed, take a moment to reflect on the past month. Recall the the people, places and events, the sorrows, the joys and the mundane moments as best you can.
* Bring your awareness into your centre and ask yourself honestly - 'What do I need to let go of?', 'What people/places/situations are no longer serving me?'
* Next ask yourself 'what do I want to bring into my life?' and once you have an idea, visualise it as if it is already happening. If this is tricky, just focus on the sensations of how it would feel if these things were to be true.
* Finally, close this mini meditation with a few slow, conscious breaths, blink open the eyes and spend time writing or drawing your answers to your questions, or anything that came up for you.
If you enjoy this process, make a note in your diary/calendar of the next New Moon and repeat it. Over time you may just find how useful a tool it has been.