The winter solstice is set to occur (in the northern hemisphere) on Wednesday, December 21. At this time, the days actually start getting shorter as we get closer to Spring, though we don’t really see evidence of this until the Spring Equinox in March.
As in nature, so in life.
Winter is cold days, bare trees, bundling up, slower energy, waiting, waiting, and more waiting. Oftentimes, we feel that “nothing is happening”, we who are so used to and value the rapid fire energy of Spring and Summer.
But things are happening, my friend. We are building a more secure, solid foundation (many plants’ roots actually grow deepest in the winter) and moving closer to the exuberant, more show-offy energy of Spring. We just can’t always see this.
Winter and Autumn in the ancient Chinese Taoism tradition are associated with the feminine, darkness, introspection and the “yin” side of the famous yin-yang symbol. Yang is the masculine and associated with light, action, and breadth. These two energies are made to co-exist with each other, neither is “better” than the other. We need both.
All this to say, where are you in your embrace of Winter and her associated energies? Are you (like myself) pretty resistance to this slower, deeper, quieter pace? Do you still want to be on the go all the time even though your body, soul, and mind say otherwise? Is it difficult to not see obvious evidence of your work (whether personal or professional)?
As a SoCal native, I was totally bewildered and honestly, a little annoyed when I experienced my first real winter in Long Island, NY in 2005 (and no SoCalers, 60 degrees is NOT freezing…) I have gotten better over the years, but I still have some reservations about fully inhabiting this time of year.
Last year, I started writing about some pretty heavy shit I had never ever processed before on the page. It resulted in lots of random bouts of crying, long nights of staring at my Instagram feed where I wasn’t even seeing the pictures, and most days felt like I was walking around in my own personal grey fog.
Instead of setting down into these feelings and accepting them, I berated myself and tried to “just get on with it” in a bluster of activity or I soothed myself with emotional eating and a myriad of other self-harming behaviors.
The result? More stuckness, not less.
But, all is not in vain. I learned something valuable last year. I learned that resistance instigates even more suffering. I learned that darker, more introspective, and slower moods have their rewards and are just as valuable as sparkly summer nights.
I fully plan to put that all into practice this Winter.
No matter where you are, I hope that you use this Winter season to nourish you and gain more acceptance of the quieter, but no less powerful energies present. I hope you go deep and learn to trust yourself. I hope this Winter is one that leaves you feeling more whole and ready to show the world your gifts in the Spring.
Winter Questions for Reflection:
-How can you explicitly slow down (even just a little) this Winter?
Ideas include more naps (never a bad idea), starting a ten minute per day meditation practice, committing to eating more slowly, setting more time aside for work projects, taking restorative yoga classes, saying fuck-it to to-do lists items, allowing and even scheduling “dawdle” time, and tapping more deeply into your intuition.
-What is one thing you want to see born in the Spring, something you can go deeper with during this winter season?
Perhaps it’s a piece of writing that you allow to mature and shift with more ease, maybe it’s deepening your meditation practice, or committing to exploring (via journaling or another art form) some personal question that’s long lingered on the right side of your brain but you haven’t had time to explore. What do you want to bring into the world next year?
-What is one daily or weekly practice of nurturing you can commit to?
Aromatherapy, daily mugs of tea, movie days/nights, sitting in the sauna at LA Fitness (join me), lighting candles instead of using artificial light, spending unrushed time with those you love, buying that ridiculously long scarf that actually looks like a mini-rug…don’t forget to take deeper care of yourself this season. We all need it and winter reminds us of this fact.
-How can you bring in a little fiery energy this season?
Even during this darker, more sub-conscious laden time of year, we still need some fire. Have fun with this! What excites you about life and/or literally makes you warmer? For some it’s a high energy work-out, spicier foods, exploring a new part of the city, and of course, there’s the obvious activity (or just where my mind always goes) of sex. Find some way to explore your fire.
I wish you the best over the holidays and the entirety of this winter season. Please never forget:
You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – (I’ve seen this quote attributed to Buddha, fake Buddha, and Sharon Salzberg…no matter who said it, it’s wise and true.)
Onward and happy winter,