If you had asked me some years ago, what words I would use to describe winter they would have been darkness, cold, isolation and a yearning for something different. Perhaps, one could say that maybe on some level they aligned with my state of mind.
This year feels different – winter feels more like stillness, openness, freedom and quiet. I believe this has everything to do with my mindset, not wishing away my life until the arrival of the next season, being happy in the now and wishing to embrace it for its glory, beauty, and yes, differences.
The Winter Solstice marks a central point of nature’s cycle. It is a time of new growth, rebirth and renewal. It is a reminder that in order to begin anew, the old must end. It is the time of year when we pay homage to the darkness of life’s mysteries, while still keeping our faith that spring will come again.
The winter solstice (in the southern hemisphere) marks the longest night of the year (Saturday 21 June). In Aotearoa, Matariki – The Maori New Year is usually celebrated at this time.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter represents YIN energy, being inward energy. It is a powerful time to heal old wounds and let go of old thought patterns that no longer serve you. For me, it is about releasing fears, so I can be free to enjoy life in its whole, complete and extraordinary divine magic. It is a time to allow oneself to be kind, gentle and introspective but also more receptive to the abundant flow of the universe, to re-calibrate and give weight to what feeds your soul, inspires and gives energy. It is a time to set intentions for that which we do want, so when we are blessed with the presence of spring – we are able to set forth with abundant life force and seize it.
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus.
So what tips and tricks can you do for the winter solstice?
– Light a candle and say your winter affirmations (or a prayer, if this feels right for you).
– Stop and listen and re-connect with your spirit.
– Do some gentle Qi Gong, breathing, or yoga as this strengthens your kidney energy in TCM
– Walking in nature and give energy to the solstice
– Inward practices just as journaling or writing
– Get plenty of rest, as this will help you to regenerate your energy for the spring.
– Eat seasonally, embracing warm nourishing foods, such as sweet potatoes, root vegetables, winter greens, braised lentils and slow cooked stews and soups. Think warm bowls of porridge with an plethora of spices (cardamon, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon), a little fruit (not too much) such as pears, apples, quinces and citrus fruits, topped with walnuts, hazelnuts and the likes… nourish, love and accept oneself.
– Welcome back the sun and honor its return.
And remember, be kind to yourself and one another.
http://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/blog/nutrition/seasons/winter/ (more on nutrition for winter)
http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2009/11/masala-chai-tea-time-2/ (if you want a stellar chai recipe)