We all do it. Whether brought about by a traumatic event or some other reason, we all feel like hiding sometimes. I’ve been thinking about this lately because when I heard Jean Houston, Ph.D., scholar, philosopher and visionary, discussing the times we move inward and away from others, it really struck a bell. While hibernating, we connect more deeply to our own energy; and we can purposely connect to the archetypal energy that we want to possess, i.e. the warrior for courage, or the Buddha for compassion.


Then, yesterday, someone came into my office whom I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years. He experienced a deeply-disturbing tragedy shortly before he ‘dropped out’ of our community’s circle. He said he had passed by my office often in the last few years and thought about coming in. Here he finally was. I asked him if he’d been hibernating and he said yes, he had. He withdrew from social life and work life; he closed down and shut down. This is extreme, wildly out of balance, showing us an example of how far hibernating can go.


Lest you think it’s always unhealthy to hibernate, that is far from the truth. The truth is that it is normal, usually. If we stand back from our lives and look for cycles of hibernation, action, achievement, and creativity, we will likely find them. I suspect those of us who are introverts will find more periods of  solitary hibernation, and perhaps extraverts may find more periods of going from large groups to small groups of people around them. But it is the same.


So what is going on in the normal course of ‘hibernating’? It could be started by an disturbing event, a sense of being overwhelmed or just plain weariness. Many reasons may cause one to go into hibernation.  Some artists and writers purposely seek these periods knowing it is necessary for them to find inspiration and creative energy. It can be an even more productive time if we focus on the qualities we want to possess.


Use this time to fill your environment with symbols of an archetypal entity you wish to emulate, whether ancient mythological beings, real people, or other symbols. Wear jewelry that reminds you of your desire, place statues or pictures on an altar, invite this energetic consciousness in.


Meditation is a withdrawing from active life as a sort of mini-hibernation. These periods of withdrawing, going within, can be part of a healthy cycle to balance our busy lives and make them more full, more expressive, more varied and colorful. If we continue to meet our responsibilities, while satisfying this need to have time alone in contemplation and solitude, then it can be a healthy thing, just what one needs. If you return to a high level of accomplishment and creative expression afterwards, then you have proven to yourself that you did just what you needed at the time.