The Cold Season is a time for rest & recuperation. Except in our fast-paced, 24/7 society, we rarely get the chance to really sink into our natural desire for quietude, do we?
All around us, Nature takes pause when the temperatures drop. The sap of trees and plants slows down. Animals hibernate, using only a fraction of their time for foraging. Seeds lie dormant in the deep dark earth, waiting patiently for spring to come around.
For most of our human history, Winter was a time of rest as well.
No soil to till, no animals to herd, no trading, warring or social events. It was a time of gathering around the hearth, telling stories of ancestors. A time for mending clothes and tools. A time of rising late and going to bed early.
This was possible for our ancestors, because they prepared in the time before: they made sure there was enough food in storage, enough firewood stacked up, and enough herbs and ointments to soothe aches and sniffles.
Nowadays, our most basic needs can be satisfied with a click on a website or a short trip to the supermarket, even in wintertime. Holidays are celebrated through excess of food, gifts and parties. We do not remember to prepare ourselves, because we don’t need to.
But our natural desire for introspection and idleness is still there.
You’re hereby invited to connect to that place of stillness, of softness, of nurturing yourself through the cold and dark days. Your Inner Wild Being contains both outward loudness and inner stillness. Tune into your deepest knowing and make yourself ready to go inside. So you can enjoy all the comfort of wintertime.
Here’s a couple of ways you can mentally, physically and spiritually prepare yourself for the cold season:
- Give yourself permission to rest. Allow yourself to soften. To quiet down. Become aware of where you’re being swept away by outside expectations, and then decide if you want to give in to those expectations, or do something differently for yourself.
- Reflect on the last year. Are there any loose threads you’d feel better wrapping up? Is there anything (experiences, convictions, people) from the last cycle of the seasons, that is no longer serving you? Did you take any extra weight on your shoulders (shoulds, musts, cant’s) that it is time to let go of? Unburden yourself by putting down those things that will not carry you through the dark season. Unpack where and what is causing undue stress, and let. it. go.
- To support you in releasing those things that you may leave behind before going into your winter slumber, here’s a little ritual you can do.
Create a sacred space by cleaning the area, burning some incense, lighting a candle, playing some gentle music. Make sure you won’t be disturbed by housemates, your phone, or other distractions. Make sure you have at least one flaming candle, and a bowl, pan or other vessel resistant to fire.
Write down the things you release yourself from. Words, images, symbols… it doesn’t matter how it looks, as long as it captures the essence for you.
Once you’ve put everything to paper, take a moment to sit with every item on the list. Consciously envision that person, that habit, or that physical item. Be gentle with yourself, and remember that it once served you, otherwise it wouldn’t be in your life. Express your gratitude for what it brought to you, and the place it once occupied. Say thanks that it is vacating that place now, so other things may come into your life.
Say your goodbyes in whatever way, shape or form feels right to you. Express it in words, song, sounds, dance… follow your feelings in this.
Then, place your flame-resistant vessel in front of you, with the burning candle next to it. Hold the paper in the flame until it catches fire. Place it inside the bowl, pan, or other vessel while it burns. Watch as the flames consume the paper. Imagine that same flame burning through your energy field, taking with it everything that no longer serves you. Feel yourself be cleansed of the energy of what you wrote down.
Don’t worry if the paper stops burning before it’s fully gone; simply hold it over the candle again. Repeat until the paper is completely turned to ashes.
While the ashes cool, take deep, slow breaths. Open a window if that feels right, to let cool, fresh air into your house and into your lungs. Allow yourself to feel spacious, free and refreshed.
Once the ashes have cooled, pulverize them. Mix them in with a little potting soil, or bury them in your garden. So may they feed and nourish the sprouting seeds of your future endeavors.
Finish your ritual by expressing gratitude to Source (God, Universe, use the term that feels right to you), your spirit helpers, and finally, yourself, for taking these steps and making this space for you.
- Take a moment to remember what ‘outside’ things helps you to really sink into Restfulness. Maybe it’s an especially soft and warm sweater you have. Maybe it’s lighting a fire in your hearth. Maybe it’s a blanket, a pair of slippers and a good book you like to come back to. Maybe it’s a flavour of tea, or a certain soup, or some other food item. Maybe it’s turning off your tv, your computer, or your phone. Maybe it’s going for a walk with your extra weather-sturdy boots on. Make a list of every thing that brings you a feeling of rest, quietude, softness.
- Look at your agenda. Is there enough time in there, to really lean back into quietude? If not, see what plans you can cancel, reschedule, shorten, in order to make space for your sacred quiet time.
- Agree on a signal with your housemates, that you are not to be disturbed during certain times. Or, if you like the company, in what way you would like to share space – cuddles? Watching a movie together? Playing a game? You can even each have your own signal, so every member of the family can enjoy their own time of rest and softness – however that looks like for them.
- Feel into your feelings. You can schedule your quiet time, but sometimes you might need some time to yourself ‘unannounced’. Listen to those feelings. Step out of the situation (in the middle of a family gathering, for instance), find a quiet place (bathroom, the bedroom where all the coats are stashed away, the garden), and take a breather. Slow down your breaths, deep and long, and feel your feet on the ground. Stretch your shoulders and your back, and then let your limbs relax. Release any tension you hold in your body. Close your eyes. Follow the sensation of the air flowing in and out of your lungs.
- If you feel any judgement coming up around taking a rest, you have two options: either delve into it, unpack it, go on a research journey on the whys and hows of that judgement. Or, simply acknowledge that the judgement came up, and decide not to follow it right now, because it doesn’t support your energy.
- Remember, you are always allowed to take space for yourself. You are always allowed to rest. You are always allowed relaxation. It is a vital part of taking care of your health.
I’m writing this on the cusp of Midwinter, right at the start of the festivities (and often, obligations) of the rebirth of the Light. For many, this is a moment in the year of being confronted with outside expectations, and inner wants and needs that might differ from each other.
But also in other times, in other situations, you might find that the outside world (in the persona of loved ones, your job, society at large…) wants and expects something different than what your innermost feeling and knowing is telling you to do.
Whenever you find yourself in such a situation, know that you can do any or all of the above, in order to connect to your inner wisdom. Trust it to know what is right for you, right in this moment. It might be something different tomorrow or in a year, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the here and now. What brings you joy, right now? What brings you rest, softness, gentleness, right now? Give yourself that.
If there’s anything you take from this article, let it be this: listen to your feelings.
Your softness is a part of you, no matter how strong, tough and powerful you are. Rest and recuperation is a necessary and vital part of life for any creature, including us humans. So give yourself space to be soft.
And once the light returns… you’ll be well-rested and full of energy to rise once again.