The New Year arrives in winter, when the Earth is incubating, quiet and still. Frozen in some places. Naked trees, wetness, cold. Night stretches her arms further into the morning while she pulls up her darkness and twinkling toes even before the first smells of dinner. Plants and animals are slowing down and going inward, lying dormant, hibernating and conserving energy until warmth returns. Can you feel winter?
In our modern world, it’s hard to feel deep into winter--to touch the silence through the noise. Winter beckons us to slow down as the Earth does. Be still, go deep. Travel into our darkness and re-evaluate, re-consider and re-member who we are. It’s a valuable time to reconnect to Nature by reconnecting to ourselves and to reconnect to ourselves by reconnecting to Nature.
Nature is the Creator and Sustainer of life on Earth, some four billion years old. There is infinite and incomprehensible wisdom in Her. Our bodies, grown and nurtured from the Earth - food and water, air and light - are responsive to the Earth. Our bodies are Nature herself. We are Nature and so when winter comes, we are winter.
Seasons are not just happening outside of us, they are happening inside of us as well. When cold comes, where is it? When dark comes, where is it? The extra layer we put on, the extra hour we wish to sleep, the extra helping of lasagna that calls to us is winter happening inside us. The deep reflections on life and death, the melancholia and memory of departed ones, the dimming of lights and the urge to curl up in a corner with a book is winter happening inside us.
I have patients who come to me during this season worried about how they feel. They tell me they want to stay in bed all day, they don’t want to hit the gym, they want to sleep, they feel slow and sluggish. They tell me they feel melancholy and brooding. They want me to fix it. They want to be energetic, motivated, light and bright. But I can’t fix winter. I tell them maybe it’s ok to take it slow. Maybe it’s okay to stay with the dark. Maybe it’s okay to go to bed early. Maybe it’s okay to think about things deeply. Maybe what we feel is a healthy connection with Nature and maybe it’s good to respect that feeling rather than to try to override it.
We can respect winter’s cold and dark by respecting our own body’s desire for warmth and rest. We can respect winter’s quiet by giving room for our own quiet contemplation. We can respect Nature’s unconditional and untiring support of us by supporting and nourishing our own bodies, the Earth and one another. In this way, we learn how to live with Nature and we can learn how to live as Nature.
Seasons reflect time. Not linear, but divinely circular. With activity comes rest. Winter is a time of resting and returning, a time of quiet and sleep, moving slowly and nourishing deeply.
Winter is a time for careful contemplation, not linear but poetic, like dreaming. To meditate with our entire being our oneness with Nature and to reconnect with the wisdom of existence. Then when Spring comes, we will naturally emerge to meet the warmth and we can blossom as Spring.
In Health and Community,