Celebrating Winter's Gifts of Replenishment
by Lea Houston
This fall as the nights grew longer and the days shorter, I realized I was resisting the change of season and grieving for summer's long days and warmth.
Resisting seasons and longing for what was past - how's that for a sure path toward misery?
So, I settled into myself and noticed the resistance and the grieving. It surprised me really, because I so relish the seasons. My husband David teases me that I claim every season and every month as my favorite. And yet this year something in me was clinging to the summer and resisting winter.
Do you ever notice how when you just acknowledge your resistance with kindness, the resistance begins to shift itself? My story - that I was dreading winter- quickly fell away and I remembered- brought back into my body- the many things I love so much about winter.
Winter is the yin time of the year. In our yang-biased modern world it is a bit revolutionary to truly honor Winter Yin's gifts of reflection, listening, inner wisdom, introspection, replenishment and mystery. Honoring Yin is a revolutionary act we need to be able to connect with the rhythms of Nature and of Soul.
Over thirty years ago I had a dream that transformed my relationship with winter. At the time I was teaching grade school, leaving home in the dark, returning home in the dark, feeling rather like a mole and struggling with the lack of light.
Late that autumn a dream came to rescue me. It was a simple dream in which I was with a dear friend outside an old farmhouse in the dark of night. The air, cool and moist on my skin, was heavy with the rich, tangy fragrance of decomposing leaves and plants, the power of the season palpable with fertile vitality drawing earthward to rest and replenish. The dream suffused me with the absolutely perfection of the season and my place within it. I woke up transformed, feeling grateful for the sweet healing power of the yin darkness of the season and inspired to embrace and celebrate the winter rather than to push it, or wish it, away. Since then each year I have celebrated the replenishing Yin Power of Winter with my family, students and friends in as many ways as possible.
A few of my favorite ways to celebrate winter
Many people tell me they struggle with winter's darkness. If you do, perhaps a few of these ideas will help guide you toward a happier relationship with the season. If you love winter already, may these add to your pleasure.
** Make friends with darkness.
What does darkness want to teach you? Perhaps to turn inward, to see the invisible, to be safe with the unknown, to hang out in mystery?
** Go for night walks.
Take advantage of the long nights for night walks and star gazing.
Last year on my December birthday the day itself was quite un-noteworthy until nighttime when David and I walked the mile-long dirt road through the woods to my parents' house. The night was cold and invigorating and we were gifted with the two most amazing shooting stars I have ever seen. If we had driven we would have missed the magic.
** Create a spell of enchantment with candlelight.
Candlelight lends a glow of romance and enchantment to any activity, including journaling, lovemaking, dining, singing, sipping tea by candlelight and makes the long nights a celebration.
** Revel in the coziness of your favorite winter clothes.
As much as I love sarongs and sundresses in the summer I adore velvets and soft scarves and bundling in sensual layers in winter. What does your winter skin crave?
** Sleep more. The dark nights call you to get more sleep, to build up your inner reserves for the busyness of longer days ahead. Very few adults and even children get enough sleep. More sleep helps you resist illness and depression, be thinner, stronger and happier.
** Nourish your inner body and your life force with warm moist foods.
What do you crave in the cold time that makes you feel good at the moment and later? My family loves soups, stews, teas and fruit crisps.
** Gather by the fire like your ancestors.
Tap into the ancient winter wisdom with fireside storytelling and singing, inside or outside.
** Cultivate your deep creativity by incubating, hibernating and involuting.
( More on these next week in the article In Praise of Hibernation.)
What does the winter want you to know?
What gifts is the darkness calling you to discover?
Lea Houston, M.A., helps heart-centered entrepreneurs, artists and healers bring their greatest gifts to the world with love, ease and delight.
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