December 21, 2009

Making Peace with Winter

Posted in Mindful Living tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:00 am by moondeva

Today marks the first day of winter, the longest night of the year. All over the world people celebrate this change of seasons with fires, candles, and lights to welcome the return of the sunlight and the promise of new life that it brings. 

I am always surprised by how many people never notice the start of a new season. “Oh, today is the first day of winter?” There are others who are acutely aware of, and dread, the season either for its holidays stresses or lack of daylight and tendency toward depression. How do we acclimate to, and honor the change of seasons in our everyday actions?

While we hustle and bustle to create and enjoy holiday celebrations with friends and family it is important that we recognize what Nature (that also means you!)  is up to. Daylight is at a minimum, plants and animals are slowing, storing up, or stopping for winter,and the weather cools. Nature is conserving energy now in order to provide for new growth in spring.

If you notice you are getting a little more tired, hungry, even a little antisocial, take time to honor your body’s desire to attune with the natural cycles. Go to bed early if you are feeling tired, take some time to sit quietly with your favorite warm beverage and a book, or enjoy a long soak in the tub.

If you can, say no to holiday activities that do not truly nourish you, and if you say yes, make sure you have made peace with your choices so you are not at odds with your conscience. Like, if you have to go to Aunt Sally’s even though you have never gotten along with her, get clear on why you’re going. “Have to” usually means at some level you feel it’s important, otherwise you really wouldn’t go. Name why it’s important to you. Is it the idea of Family? Putting Aside Differences? Seeing other family members who will be there? Participating in traditions? …

To help your body stay in harmony with the shorter days and longer nights, try to get as much exposure to daylight as you can, and try this fun experiment:

When the daylight wanes, instead of turning on the electric lights, light candles around the house, keep the TV and computer off, and let yourself naturally wind down with the early arrival of evening. This is a wonderful time to make a fire in the fireplace if you have one, read or take a bath by candlelight, or just sit and talk with family and friends. You might be surprised that you feel ready for bed a lot earlier than usual – go with it! If you can’t make it from sundown to bedtime without electric lights, try 1 or 2 hours of candlelight before your usual bedtime.

A traditional meditation technique is to sit quietly and comfortably gazing at the flame of a candle. The image of the flame represents clarity, purification, and Truth. You might envision a similar flame residing in your Heart that keeps you connected to your inherent Wisdom, and True Nature which is free of obstacles and impurities.

Whatever tradition that you celebrate, may your season and new year be meaningful and abundant.

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