Winter’s Journey…Spinning Inward
This article was co-written w/Peg Donahue years ago during another bitter cold and long winter! The ideas and approaches still seem relevant today for those of us in the northern Hemisphere!
Are you feeling the results of the harsh, cold and unyielding temperatures on your patience? The already difficult season of winter becomes even more unbearable when we are besieged by extremes of temperature, as well as continuous ice or snow storms!
Is there a way to make peace with this season? Is there a means to find not just respite, but maybe even an appreciation of this quieter, less active, time of the year?
Of course there are many approaches that help us tolerate and get through this time: winter sports, vacations, new hobbies and interests. These are all worthwhile and useful alternatives to enable us to withstand the long, cold, and dark season.
There are also choices in how we view this time of year that can help reduce some of the stress and frustration. We can look at winter as a teacher. We can open ourselves to learn something from this season that we are used to just enduring. Years ago we would have laughed at such an approach! Finally it occurred to us that our attitude was not working. So we thought a trial run of a different point of view couldn’t hurt. We found that it not only didn’t hurt, it in fact helped…a lot!
The natural world has much to teach us about flowing with cycles and changes…how to be patient and go with the flow rather than fight what is. If you allow it, winter’s journey can be a kind of spinning inward, a letting go of resistance to all that you find harsh, cold and unyielding. Within the short and cold days of winter, there is a lot of magic and beauty. It can be a time of quiet reflection, a time to learn how to turn your attention inward. When you do this, the possibility opens to learning how to become friends with a slower, quieter, less active pace. You can welcome the respite from the over-activity of the holidays, and warmer seasons. By slowing down and going inward, you may discover that solutions come to you more easily. You may also discover that you can get more done in less time. You may discover that you like the new pace and improved balance.
However, there are challenges to implementing these ideas! We seem to resist slowing down. We are used to such a high level of activity, and have such high expectations for every area of our lives, that it is hard to slow down. We have all cooperated in the creation of lives so full of action that is hard to change. In spite of warnings regarding health, our own unrest and feelings of distress with the pace, we continue onward as if it is impossible to change.
We are the change agents and meaning makers of our lives. If something new is to enter our existence, we have to make room for it and do our part in creating it. Aligning our energy with our intentions and doing whatever preparation “work” we need to is part of that. We often have some resistance to what it is that we would like to have change so it is best to explore that and remove the blocks as part of our plan upfront.
Nature’s wisdom follows predictable, repeatable cycles of change and growth. Winter is a time of ‘darkness’, a resting time, a space where there is a deep process of renewal and rejuvenation happening before the grand explosion of life in spring.
Winter provides US with a similar experience. With a somewhat slower pace of life we can take the opportunity to give ourselves a gift of time each day for quiet reflection. We can learn to enter into this state that nature models so gracefully.
One way is to practice some form of meditation, deep relaxation, contemplation or prayer as a daily routine. This may be difficult at first for many reasons. It may feel as though nothing is happening or that you are not being productive, responsible or worthwhile. As you become more familiar with spending time in this type of activity, you will gradually become aware, however, of how profoundly it can impact your life in ways that support the values you cherish.
Deep within each of us, is the need for quiet; for the kind of rest that replenishes and nourishes our bodies, minds and spirits. There is a place inside that understands and knows how to BE. However, you need to access it, it will not force its way into your life. You access it by slowing down, tuning in and listening to everything within your body and soul. When you provide the means to travel there, your life is greatly enriched for the brief investment of time that you make.
Benefits of cultivating and nourishing your Being-ness?
- You may find a kind of rest you did not think was possible.
- You can discover that silence will teach you things you didn’t know.
- You can develop new perspectives, new views that help you in practical ways.
- You may realize the difference between knowledge and understanding.
- You may find you are more than a constant process of doing.
- You may find that by slowing down you actually accomplish more with less effort.
- You may rediscover your creativity and simple solutions to everyday problems.
- You may find that you really enjoy and cherish this time.
- You can develop a reliable source of renewal, guidance, support and problem solving.
All relationships need attention, time and space to grow. Winter provides the possibility for a new kind of relationship—one with yourself. This relationship is grown and nurtured internally. It is deceptively quiet and subtle, but like winter, it can be powerful in the gifts it brings: expansion, growth, warmth, beauty …your own personal Spring!
As we go inward we nurture the seeds of change and growth as well as become aware of what impedes us on our journey.
Contemplate what you really want in your life.
Make room in your heart and soul for its arrival.
Align your thoughts and your energy with your intentions on a daily basis.
Make a commitment to nurture yourself this winter.
Align your spirit with Nature’s cycles.
When spring arrives, the seeds of winter will
burst forth will new life and vigor.