Slowing Down: 4 Tips For Honoring Your Inner Wisdom This Winter
I’m sure you’ve heard of eating with the seasons. If you’ve done even a little digging on the topic you’ve picked up on several reasons it makes total sense. It supports biodiversity, reduces negative environmental impact and, a benefit I find fascinating, provides our bodies with the precise nourishment they need, down to the level of the bacteria present on different foods, as our needs change throughout the year.
Wild, right? If eating seasonally seems logical to you then taking it a step further and considering living seasonally is something that I know will resonate with you too.
One bit of wisdom that has consistently rippled through my studies of acupuncture, Ayurveda and yin yoga is the cyclical nature of the seasons. Along with that bit of wisdom, each course of study has offered guidelines for learning to live in harmony with nature’s cycles to promote a vibrant sense of wellbeing and ease that results when one stops resisting the natural order of change because often (if not always) struggle and suffering are consequences of resisting life’s inevitable changes. While it sounds poetic to talk about living in the flow of nature, actually doing it is a whole other story. I find it most challenging to live in nature’s flow during the winter.
My personality is governed by fire, air, and space and is primarily yang in nature. As an FYI the yang energy is characterized by being masculine, fast-paced, dynamic and fiery. For the Ayru-nerds reading, I’m a pitta-vata which makes spring and summer super easy and exciting for me because my passionate, outgoing, fast-moving nature loves it when the world outside exhibits the same qualities. When the earth starts to thaw and eventually warm and the sun starts to shine longer, I am in my happy place and all is well with the world. As nature picks up its pace and begins to bloom I fall into stride, birthing and executing on new ideas and plans and generally being a social butterfly and a fire starter, just the way I like it.
On top of that, the world I live in is dominated by the yang energy. It’s fast paced, forward moving and values doing over being.
Winter, on the other hand, is a season governed by what is known in eastern philosophy as yin energy. Yin, yang’s feminine counterpart, is cool, introspective and slow moving. Think going to bed early, restorative yoga, nights spent curled up on the couch with a cozy blanket, a cup of hot tea, and your journal. Its normal – and healthy – to sleep more, exert less, spend more time alone and looking inward during the winter and, for most of us, it’s what our instincts tell us to do during the coldest months of the year.
This year, while I’ve heard my body asking for more sleep, less strenuous exercise, more introspection and journaling, and less social media broadcasting, the biggest challenge has been a sense of self imposed pressure to ‘keep up’ with the rest of the world, as if by slowing down and doing fewer facebook lives and Instagram stories I’ll somehow fall behind. Crazy, I know, but the inner critic is real.
In a world as connected as ours staying true to one’s own guidance isn’t always an easy task. If you’re anything like me and feel the pull to slow down but experience a nagging voice telling you to keep pushing through, here are four practices that have helped me honor my inner wisdom and drown out the voice telling me I’m not doing enough.
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1. Meditating for 15-20 minutes every day
My meditation practice has been so, so, crucial when it comes to being able to hear my inner wisdom more clearly. Quieting my mind consistently for just 15 minutes a day has helped to quiet the inner critic and stay closer to my personal truth.
2. Spending less time on social media
I find that when I scroll I can’t help but compare myself to others and find evidence for my perceived shortcomings so I’ve spent WAY less time on social media. Distancing myself from platforms like Facebook and Instagram has enabled me to be more present in my life and made it easier for me to see all of the ways my life is amazing and to my amazement, I’m doing a way better job of staying connected to friends and family.
3. Listening when my body tells me it needs more sleep
I am someone who loves being awake in the early morning before the sun rises and the rest of the world awakens but sometimes in the winter even if I go to bed before 10pm I find myself having a hard time getting up for my favorite part of the day. Giving myself grace and letting myself hit snooze a few times has been so supportive.
4. Reminding myself that things are constantly changing!
Like all things in life, this season won’t last forever. I’m reminding myself to enjoy what is because when things change I’ll be wishing I could go back to when…
Remember, winter is a crucial part of the year intended to help us pull back, draw in, fortify our reserves and recharge so we can launch into a productive and fruitful year. Allowing yourself space and time to do just that and will enable you to burst forth into spring and summer with energy and enthusiasm as you bring new creations to life.
Is adjusting the changing pace of each season something that comes naturally to you?
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