By Rianne Chittenden
December 21st marks the shortest, darkest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere. Since the summer solstice in June, Earth has been slowly tilting away from the Sun, drawing inward, conserving her resources (see image below). Often winter gets a bad rep in this culture. We attempt to keep going at the pace of summer. We cling to the light, afraid of the dark. Yet just as night always comes after day, winter always comes after summer. Each season offers its own unique dose of medicine if we are willing to take it. Winter is a time of rest, reflection, contemplation, and grounding. While we still have our day-to-day lives to live, what tiny shifts can we make to honor this season of rest? What can we get rid of that no longer serves us?
You make time for whatever you consider a priority. You are the creator of your reality. Create the space to take a pause. Stop doing, simply allow yourself to be. Are you able to tune in to see if you are distracting/numbing or truly being? A good way to decipher the two is to ask yourself how you feel afterward. Do you feel fresh and rejuvenated? Ready to go for your next task? Or do you feel the same or perhaps more depleted? Maybe foggy and scattered? Myself and those in my circle who make it a daily priority to just be, notice more progress, more clarity, and more energy throughout the day.
Capitalism has tricked us into thinking nothing comes of just being: You have to be doing in order to make progress. When you are fully trapped in this narrative, you usually resort to distracting/numbing in your ‘off’ time because it's simply not enjoyable to be fully present; Capitalism has associated presence with pointlessness. Having been stuck in this narrative myself, the shift was not enjoyable initially. As I pulled out of this mindset, thoughts of worthlessness crept in as I tried to slow down: Who am I, what is the point of existing, if I am not doing anything or providing for someone else in all moments of the day? Having the courage to sit with those thoughts and allowing them to dissolve has helped me find the magic that happens when we just be. This looks different for everyone but the common factor is clarity on the value we provide the world and those around us for simple being who we are.
Create space to slow down and rest at the start and end of your day. It is SO much easier to set the pace you want to move at in the morning that honors where you are than to hit the ground running and try to re-calibrate once burnt out. Upon waking, splash some cool water over your face to bring freshness to your mind. Slow sip some warm, nourishing tea like this delicious Reverse Chai. Enjoy the stillness of the morning. Enter into presence in whatever way speaks to you before jumping into your to-do list. At night, work by candlelight or dim the lights when possible. The human body has not adapted to all the advances in technology and staying in bright lights past sundown is stressful to the eyes and nervous system. Before bed, do something that helps bring you out of your head and into your body. Yoga Nidra, a form of guided meditation usually done lying down, is a wonderful tool for slowing mental activity and full-body relaxation.
Whatever state you are in when you fall asleep, your body stays in that energetic imprint all night. Make it a good one. Make yourself a priority. Take the dose of medicine winter has to offer. Relax. You are enough just as you are.