I’ve always appreciated warmth in life – people, environments, cultures, foods, fabrics – you name it, if it feels warm and cozy, it feels good to me. I’ve developed a healthy addiction to cashmere (thank goodness it’s coinciding with my lean towards minimalism and move away from overconsumption, otherwise it could get expensive!). I also, as anyone who knows me well will tell you, I looooove love love warm cooked cozy foods. You know, the ones that take all day to cook, have a certain amount of zen chopping involved, look like a rainbow going into the pot and smell up the entire house with that wonderful “ooooh this is going to taste good AND be good for me’ smell. Everything about a slow cooked nourishing meal makes me happy.
I also love candles, warm lighting, cozy blankets and that feeling you get when you walk into someone’s house who is so welcoming and full of love that you can feel it like a big warm embrace.
I’ve loved this feeling for most of my life but it wasn’t until I had the privilege of living in Denmark and also started to study deeper the energetics of Traditional Chinese Medicine that I realized that this coziness serves a deeper purpose.
In Denmark, they actually have a word for this cozy state of life. Hygge.
I actually heard about it before moving there, but it was when I lived there through the various seasons that I really got how much of a way of life, and an essential part of life it is.
For those of you familiar with the Scandinavian climate, you know that winters are full of long, dark, often rainy or snowy days and full of blustery winds. Sometimes in riding my bike I would wonder quite seriously if I was moving backwards or forward into the wind…and it magically seemed to change directions when I would head home from work making it an insanely cardiovascular event daily. This hygge way of being and living helps to balance that out some of the darkness and harsh weather and makes for a happy contented life.
Hygge has no direct translation but has been described as the complete absence of anything annoying or overwhelming, taking pleasure in the presence of gentle soothing things. Things that are soothing to one’s soul. It’s a cultural attitude of being gentle and kind to yourself.
And it’s about cake too (seriously).
This idea of hygge is applied to every day actions, activities and ways in which one socializes and spends their time. From candles being lit to adorn spaces and places and that can be seen at every café…starting at 8am, to warm natural fibres and rich warm wood flooring, and amazingly designed warm buring fireplaces, to the coffee that is served constantly if you go visiting (and the amazing cake that accompanies) as well as the warmth in which one is welcomed into a friends home. The gentle snugging up with a good book and a cup of tea. Anything that feels good.
There is this sense of slowing down, connecting and being together with the warm and cozy that feeds us in a very deep and nourishing way…with the people we love.
In Chinese Medicine, we have the term Yin. Yin is the passive, inner, deep, still, calm energy associated with feminine consciousness and the deeper ways of being – intuition, meditation, calming activities can all be considered part of the Yin. Yin activities calm the nervous system and help us recharge. It is Non-doing at its finest!
Yin is the balance to Yang energy.
Yang is the outward, driving, active, thinking planning, doing, masculine conscious side including achievement and logical linear thought. Sound a little familiar? It’s certainly the one that we see more embodied living in this (overly) busy constantly producing western world
When I think of Yin and when I think of Hygge, I think of the deep, calm, caring and recharging stillness that happens when we allow ourselves to slow down, curl up, soften and BE. It’s the big sigh of letting go and leaving the producing, doing, thinking, busy parts at the door and allowing ourselves to be nourished. Deeply.
This softening and yielding energy is one that is so needed in order to be a balanced and a healthy individual (and society). Yet it is the thing that is so greatly missing from our modern western world.
It is said in the rhythms of change that make up the foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine, that we need to honour the different phases of our days, life, seasons if we are to thrive. This non-doing, the stillness and nourishing life-restoring quiet that comes with the Hygge life can be just the thing to balance us out.
So this winter (or any time in the year), I invite you to curl up, lie down, light a candle, put on some beautiful inspiring music, cozy up with a loved one, pull out that favourite novel and put on that nourishing pot of soup and soak up the nourishment your soul so desperately needs – And get your cozy on!