Am I the only one with a hibernation fantasy? I long to be like the moomintroll and hibernate all winter after filling my belly with pine needles, well maybe not that last bit. We've just celebrated imbolc, the first of February, the time where everything in us starts to awaken, time for new beginnings and rising energy. So I guess it's too late for hibernation, but it's in my diary for next year.
If hibernation is a yearly event then incubation needs to be a much more frequent one. I'm imagining a bird fluffing up it's feathers and setting down on it's eggs, keeping them warm till they are ready to hatch. But us humans can get in on the act too, not with eggs, but with new ideas.
Incubation is a part of the creative process, one theory is that there are 4 stages to creating something new:
Preparation – when we are doing the research, collecting, investigating.
Incubation – largely left to the unconscious, we may be sleeping, walking, day dreaming or just doing something else. While we are doing something else, all those thoughts and images that we collected in the first stage get to mingle in our unconscious and recombine into something new.
Illumination – the emergence of an idea or answer, the lightbulb moment.
Verification – the making, creating or simply being something new.
In meditation a period of 'just sitting' that can follow a more active period of meditation, is a sort of incubation. You’ve worked consciously with the mind, then you let go, relax and let some other unconscious process take over. It's then that a realisation comes, or some new understanding.
When we get up from the cushion that new understanding manifests in the way we go about our lives.
It seems that we need some kind of 'nest' for this incubation period. If you are a regular meditator, then maybe you already have a nest? If not, what would your nest look like? Here's mine below, er yes it's the one on the right.
So remember to save some time in your nest for doing nothing, or remember that doing nothing is when you are incubating the new ideas. As Rumi says - 'And don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.'