Light and day and night.
The longest day of the year is behind us.
It’s well known that lack of sunlight has an adverse effect on our brains. It might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus from working properly:
- Production of melatonin – Melatonin is a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. The hypothalamus may produce it in higher than normal levels.
- Production of serotonin – Serotonin is a hormone that affects our mood, appetite and sleep. Lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression.
- Body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) – Our body uses sunlight to time various important functions such as the time we wake up. So, lower light levels may disrupt our body clock, mood and alertness.
A recent study by Klaus Martiny of the Psychiatric Centre in Copenhagen shows that people being treated for severe depression were discharged almost twice as quickly if their rooms faced south-west in comparison to those whose rooms had a north-west orientation. Depending on time of the year, the intensity of daylight in the south-west rooms was 17-20 times brighter. The results support findings in previous studies of the importance of architectural orientation providing natural daylight as a factor for improvement. “We don’t know the precise mechanism, but I think it’s to do with exposure to the morning light, which advances and stabilises their sleep-wake cycle,” says Martiny.
Light acts as a powerful reset switch, keeping the clocks in our brain synced with the outside world. This clock can weaken as part of ageing, Parkinson’s disease, strokes and depression. To tackle this problem several hospitals are installing dynamic ‘solid state’ lighting which changes like daylight over the course of the day : whitish-blue in the morning, growing warmer and dimmer through the day and turning orange or switching off at night.
Light can be a drug.
Today is Nowruz, Iranian New year.
For hundreds of years it has been celebrated on the Spring equinox to signify new beginnings, seeds and paths.
The earth tips over to allow illumination of the northern hemisphere, a sublime reminder that light always returns. This time when day and night are equal represents our need for balance between male and female energies, between yin and yang.
A time for renewal, growth and glorious blooming of the spirit.
An upward movement of energy, helping us look into the future with hope and positivity.
Meditation on the Equinox
Over our heads, the great wheel of stars shifts,
the autumnal (or spring) equinox manifests itself,
and for one precious instant darkness and light
exist in balanced proportion to one another.
Within our minds the great web of neurons shifts,
new consciousness arises,
and for one precious instant experience and meaning
exist together as revelation and epiphany.
Within our hearts the great rhythm of our lives shifts
a new way of being reveals itself,
and for one precious instant
the nexus of the body and the seat of the soul
truly exist as one.
Let us give thanks for those times in our lives
when all seems in balance.
For those times are rare and precious.
The equinox shall pass, the revelation may be forgotten,
and our actions will not always reflect our true selves.
But through our gratitude
we may remember who we are,
reflect on who we may become,
and restore the balance which brings equanimity to our lives.
Let us be quiet for a moment, together.
By Thomas Rhodes
The Tale of the Reed Flute by Rumi
Listen to the reed flute and its tale.
Complaining of separation:
Since they cut me off from the bed of reeds
Men and women lament the sound of my cry.
Due to separation, I want chests torn to shreds
To describe the pain of desire
Anyone distant from his origins
Will seek to return to them.
Lamenting at every gathering,
I am the friend of both
The happy and the unhappy
Each believes himself to be my friend,
Yet none searches for my secrets.
My secret is not far from my lamentation,
Yet my eyes and ears do not have that light.
Time to create, invite and celebrate light.
On this auspicious day we lit seven oil lamps, one for each continent, for peace for all people all over the world.
“Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu”
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all”
This beautiful mantra reminds us that we are not separate and independent beings. We are inter-connected with all living beings in the universe. We cannot achieve true happiness if we cause unhappiness to others, nor can we be free if we deprive others of their freedom.
It is possible that earth is the only unique planet with ‘intelligent’ life on it, in many galaxies. Yet we have managed to sap this gorgeous globe into material and moral poverty. We are at the brink of World War 3 with a real threat of another nuclear explosion in the near future. Despite enough resources, our greed kills many of hunger, violence and deprivation. Instead of breaking down barriers we create new dividing walls everyday.
This mantra of non-violence is also for all world leaders.
Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu!