Finding the wonder, beauty and stillness of winter – and embracing the yin

I sit and stare out my window a lot. I love it. I love watching nature unfold year round. Birds, squirrels, and locals in their seasonal fashions trying to keep warm or cool depending on the season, and the magnificent beauty of the trees…I love trees. . There is something so amazing to watch the seasonal changes in nature and nothing shows off like the trees. 

And, although I love each season for what it brings, there is something so magical about winter. I think I am particularly enamored with winter right now as it IS winter and I always seem to be soooo ready for whatever season it is as it enters and so ready for the next as it exits. 

I love the calm, stark stillness of winter that calls me to a deeper, more inner world. The gentle padded hush of life after a big snowstorm. The call to a slow cooked meal, candles lit and curtains closed by 5pm. Fuzzy socks, blankets and a good book curled up on a couch. Snow shoeing and the rosy cheeked love of the hot chocolate or warm soup after a good outdoor outing. Winter has so many gifts to offer. And it has nothing to do with getting busy, social or being productive. To me, it’s that deep quiet and introverted time. 

The time to dig in and go deep.

I find such a gentle calm in the shades of muted grey that I find on the trees as I gaze out my window in winter. I find it soothing. Calming. And like a subtle permission from nature to slow down. “Nothings going on out here” it says, ”Just stay put. We’ll give you a call when were ready to sprout in the spring

Energetically, Oriental Medicine tells us just this. Winter is a time to go in, be still, dig deep and nourish.  Warm foods, more sleep, less activity are all things that help us nourish that ‘yin’ part of our yin-yang balance that is so essential to a healthy nourished and well lived life. We’re missing a lot of Yin in our modern world. We’re on the busy track. Production and achievement drive us year round and we so seldom take the time to stop and recharge. 

The beautiful thing is, science shows us that the more time we take to stop Doing and start slowing down and Being more, the more we recharge our inner battery which can, ironically, lead to a more productive, happier, healthier and inspired life.

Here are some simple Yin nourishing winter activities you can infuse your day with throughout the season to harness some of that winter wisdom:

• Going to bed earlier and rise slightly later if you can (work more with the sun rhythms)
• Eat warm slow cooked foods (think pot of soup or stew simmering on the stove all afternoon) and focus on naturally warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom or black pepper to help keep your body cozy and warm
• Try journaling, colouring, writing, knitting, playing a card or board game or some other less ‘stimulating’ activity and avoid aggressive or overly stimulating shows, media or activities
• Try meditation, mindfulness or guided meditations andvisualizations. If you’re new to this there are some wonderful apps that offer free meditations (Wildflowers, Calm, Headspace etc.)
• Simplify activities – for example if you want to listen to music try lying on the couch and making that your soleactivity. Try to resist multi-tasking and opt for one activity at a time or turn off background noise or music and see how it feels to be in quiet more. 
• Write letters. Yes, as in the old school sort. You’d be surprised how much joy that can bring someone!
• Opt for less socializing more quiet meaningful connection or solitary downtime
• Try having your morning coffee, or afternoon tea, seated by a widow and spend a few minutes simple gazing outside. See what you notice. Simply let yourself BE for a bit.

The idea of hibernation and stillness in the winter months, is to help us rebuild and recharge so we have the energy that the more extroverted seasons of spring and summer asks of us. This time of the year can bephysical recharging, but also energetic and creative. Winter allows us to dig deep and find those inner creative sparks, new ideas and dreams that we can put into action come the spring and summer when our energy is naturally more aligned with DO-ing…if we just take the time to stop and listen.

So this winter, I wish you days filled with quiet, stillness and lots of non-doing. See you in the spring!