Here in beautiful Colorado, we are blessed to experience all four seasons. The joyous growth of spring, the languid feast of summer, the gentle letting go of autumn, and the quiet nurturing of winter. To really get the most out of this beautiful yearly cycle, we must be aware and tuned into the rhythms of nature and of our own lives, and yet most of us plow through life in the same manner, no matter what month it is. If you have been pushing yourself too hard lately, this is your invitation to slow down and go within. Because if we take the time to quiet our minds and listen, winter has a bounty of wisdom to share with us.
As we come upon the Winter Solstice, we can reflect on the coming light, as this Solstice marks the longest and darkest night of the year. During these days, the sun appears to slow her dance in the sky, lingering at the lowest point on the horizon that she will reach during the yearly cycle. This special day (on December 21st ), and the weeks to come, invite us all to reflect upon the past year and how we wish to bring our inner light into the world during this new season.
Winter may be a hard time for many people, with the relentless cold and darkness, but when we can see it as an invitation to do our own kind of “spiritual hibernation”, suddenly the cold and dark have a bigger purpose. Just as the animals hunker down and rest during winter, our bodies are naturally inclined to slow their pace, crave heavier and more nourishing foods, and savor the chance to recharge and recalibrate before spring. The winter season is the reset button for our lives.
So this year, I invite you to take advantage of the wisdom of winter, and use this time to nurture yourself. After the healthy shedding of old patterns and beliefs that traditionally comes in the fall, it’s time to cuddle into our freshly cleaned nest and plant the seeds for the coming springtime sun. Here are a few ways that you can tap into the natural rhythms of the snowy season:
1. Take a yearly inventory
In your favorite journal, write down some things that you accomplished this past year, good things that happened, changes that occurred, and how you have grown. Then make some mindful goals for the coming year, regarding your health, career, family life, and spirituality. Word them in a positive manner, and perhaps tack them up on your mirror for an extra energetic lift!
2. Move in a nourishing way
The wintertime is not necessarily the time to go hard or push yourself. While it’s nice to get out in the fresh snow now and then, this season invites you to slow your pace and focus on more restorative activities. Try gentle yoga, tai chi, dancing, or long walks around the park, as well as invest in holistic bodywork modalities. Winter is also the perfect time to rest and heal any nagging injuries, so you can be strong, balanced, and flexible come springtime.
3. Focus on warming and grounding foods
Resist the urge to put yourself on a strict diet for all your holiday parties or family gatherings. Your internal clock will only fight against you, as our brains are designed to seek extra nourishment this time of year. Learn to eat seasonally, emphasizing heavier and nourishing foods during the winter, with warming spices and grounding qualities. Look for dark leafy greens, colorful root vegetables, and balancing broths especially. Drink more water and herbal tea to encourage healing.
4. Connect with your support system
Take a cue from the Danish (they consistently rank as the happiest culture!) and enjoy the feeling of “hygge”. This roughly translates to English as “coziness” or “togetherness”, and is a wonderful way to pass the cold, dark winters. Reach out to your friends and family and plan low-key get-togethers during the season- this boosts your healthy hormones, reduces any seasonal depression you might have, and strengthens your relationships.
5. Develop mindful patience
Winter is the mellow counterpart to the frenzy of summer, so try to get frustrated if things don’t move as quickly as you’d like. Now is the time to be quiet, spend more time in meditation and contemplation, and plant the seeds you want to grow this coming year. Don’t rush into major decisions or overextend yourself by saying “yes” to too many obligations. Instead, pull back on the reigns a bit, put more trust in yourself and the Universe, and watch as things unfold in an authentic, healthy way.
The approaching Winter Solstice is nature’s invitation to you to settle in and give thanks for the quiet of the darkness, and prepare for the softly burgeoning light. ‘Tis the season for nourishment and spiritual growth, and I truly hope you take advantage of these natural cycles. May this winter bring wisdom and healing to you!