Last time we spoke, I shared about the current transition process of my pregnancy and our final options for where we want to birth our baby boy. Well, we chose the majestic mountains and wilderness of Montana and this morning I’m writing to you from the kitchen of our cozy 6 month rental in Livingston (population 7,000), just 30 minutes outside the bustling town of Bozeman.
We have a stove fireplace that pops and crackles all day long keeping us warm as the snow falls outside our window. This past weekend we put up our Christmas tree and the sparkle of the lights just beyond the sight of my computer in front of me, the scent of my decaf collagen coffee beside me, and the glow of the gentle morning sunlight streaming in behind me, all cue my body that it’s a time of going inward. Winter is here.
Ayurveda teaches us that modern ailments, illnesses, and disease can arise from living out of sync with the natural cycles of the environment around us. Think about how the consumerist world of buy, spend, “give us your money” makes this happen. On “Black Friday” aka the day after Thanksgiving, a day that we would naturally be resting and indoors after a large meal and often large energy expenditure after being around friends and family, we are convinced to head out at midnight to get a jumpstart on our Christmas shopping to save a few bucks.
Instead of sleeping late, waking up for a warm drink and nourishing meal, and enjoying the day off of work that many of us receive, we’re fighting crowds and traffic, stress levels rising and restful, inward energy escaping us. If we are conscious and aware of the changing energy of the seasons, we can use the winter to balance out the “doing” and action-oriented energy of spring and summer.
Today, some suggestions on exactly how to do this:
1. Fuel your body with warming foods.
Summer is the time for green smoothies, watermelon juice, ice pops, iced water, lots of fruit, raw salads, smoothie bowls, and the likes. During winter, opt for warming foods and drink. Skip iced coffee in place of a hot cup of tea or coffee. Instead of a cold sweet treat like ice cream, opt for chia seed pudding with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger.
For breakfast, reach for scrambled eggs in coconut oil and oatmeal, while dishes like curries, casseroles, and chili are perfect for dinner. Other warming foods to keep in the forefront of your mind: grass-fed butter, ghee, sweet potato, root vegetables, chai tea, turmeric (hello, turmeric lattes), beets, and rice.
All of these foods also have very grounding energy which helps to keep you connected to the earth and your body during a season that can sometimes cause stress and overwhelm.
2. Make the word “no” a key part of your vocabulary.
It’s a lot harder to say no to friends when they ask you to go to a restaurant on the beach in the middle of summer or on a weekend trip to a warm, tropical vacation. It is, however, a lot easier to say no when it’s cold, rainy, snowing, and dark outside your window and heading out requires 10 layers of clothing. I’m not saying the weather is an excuse, OK, I actually am. Use this in your favor.
Let the winter season also be the season of no. Let it be a time of staying in, cozying up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and your favorite movie. Let it be the season of late mornings and early nights, of cooking at home, of getting to the list of books you’ve been meaning to read, of forts and make-believe and hot chocolate at home with your children.
Make it realistic for you. Of course, there are still responsibilities during the winter that don’t allow us to completely cut off and hibernate like a bear but choose one day a week, one morning a week and make an intentional choice to turn inward.
3. Press the reset button.
For nearly five years now, I have a New Year’s Eve tradition of making a vision board to visually represent what I am welcoming into my life in the coming year. This ritual is done with an intention to release the thoughts, feelings, and ideas that did not serve me this year and choose new empowering ways to move into the new year. It is a way of wiping the slate clean and beginning again.
Whatever the practice is for you (working out, meditating, writing, connecting with friends/family, creating a vision board), consciously invite in the practices necessary to clear your energetic space for this year and create a blank slate for what’s to come.
The winter solstice will arrive on Friday, December 21, the evening of the full moon in December, and is an honored time for rebirth and renewal. May these practices serve you as we intentionally close out 2018 and step powerfully into the new year.
Try this: On the evening of December 21, turn off all of the lights for at least an hour and let your home be warmed and lit by the light of candles. Use this ritual as a reminder that the natural light of spring and summer will return, and in the meantime, to lean on your inner fire to keep the light ablaze.
“The Solstice is a time of quietude, of firelight, and dreaming, when seeds germinate in the cold earth, and the cold notes of church bells mingle with the chimes of icicles. Rivers are stilled and the land lies waiting beneath a coverlet of snow. We watch the cold sunlight and the bright stars, maybe go for walks in the quiet land. . . . All around us the season seems to reach a standstill — a point of repose.”