by John Muraco
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
We all deal with the changing seasons differently. As it stands true with life’s challenges and changes, ups and downs and ebb and flow, people have very unique and important ways in which they meet the changing of the seasons. As we leave summer behind and replace the warm weather with cooler and more biting air, each one of us has a different approach toward this change. Perhaps merely reading this article creates some angst for some as we delve more deeply into fall and the beginning of winter. At the same time, others may be ecstatic knowing that they get to pull the sweater out of the closet and enjoy warming drinks, rich and filling foods, and more time indoors.
But, how can this become a season of understanding ourselves more deeply? What things can we integrate into our lives to make the darker and colder seasons more inviting? By witnessing natural landscape changes outdoors, we find many clues to the changing landscape within us. Perhaps with some noticing and a little motivation for self-care, we can begin to harmonize with the cooler seasonal change, as we say goodbye to the golden light of summer and go inward.
This is a great time of the year to harvest all that was accomplished in the past five months. Perhaps for some, summer was fraught with challenge, change and some discomforts. Now is a great time to allow oneself some time each day for quiet reflection. It could be that summer experiences were full of many positive changes, a lot of time outdoors, late nights and high energy. Again, reflecting on all that has taken shape in the lively months of spring and summer, and reaping the benefits of what life has delivered, can go a long way. As the light dims, winter can be our wind-down period that allows for restoration.
Just like the falling leaves, the hibernating animals, and the dimming of the light, our energy too can be downward and inward-moving as we transition into fall and winter. Let this be a time to honor the letting go or passing of choices that might no longer serve us, or to take a closer look at relationships that feel non-sustainable. This will make way toward renewed space for supportive life elements. Give the freedom to welcome more of what has made a positive impact on life.
Challenging though it may be, the colder and darker months reflect to us that in order to be born anew we must go within. Inner stillness and nonjudgmental self-observation empowers us to become available to new ways of being and maybe even open to the parts of ourselves that remain unseen in our shadow. Be it in stillness, self-reflection or support from others, we might find there some reverence and light. By that inner light, we may gaze at the things in life that have held us back, noticing what is working and what isn’t, and integrating more of what makes our hearts sing into our lives.
Here are some helpful hints for tending to our inner landscapes this winter.
- Allow five minutes or more of deep belly breathing. By placing a hand on the belly, inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose. This will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and allow the body to relax and restore. If the mind is wandering, bring attention back to the breath or the rising of the belly into your hand.
- Self expression—in any way desired. Some may express themselves by cooking a warming soup for oneself or the meaningful people in his or her life. For others, journaling is most expressive. Allow some free-write sessions to release whatever has been on the mind. Find what expands and contracts you—whether it be making art, moving the body or enjoying “me” time.
- Clean out closets, pantries, drawers, etc. It may sound funny, but this is a great time of the year to “go within” and the nook and cranny parts of our house can be symbolic of the aspects of ourselves that could use some tending to. It is possible that cleaning and clearing unwanted clutter might make some space within our inner world.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to experience anything. There is only your way. Be gentle on yourself, listen to the body and mind’s needs and move forward in the changing seasons in whatever way feels best.
John Muraco, ATR, RYT, is an art therapist, registered yoga teacher and holistic lifestyle and wellness counselor. His work since 2000 has integrated diverse approaches to creative expression and wellness to support clients in regaining personal power and reducing stress. To connect with him or schedule a free consultation, call 315-329-9838 or visit HeartWellHouse.com. December 2014.