Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Honoring the season of rest, inner work and wisdom

Winter in my backyard, 2014 (still waiting for snow this yea
Winter begins today (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). It's a time to rest, relax and restore. A time to reflect on the year's achievements and challenges. It's also an opportunity to find greater balance by aligning with the energy of the season. Nature is a great teacher, and one way to learn from her is to follow her rhythms and connect with the energy of the seasons.

Ancient cultures understood this, and lived day in and day in sync with nature. Winter allowed them to slow down their lives and take time to
understand the successes and failures of the previous 11 months (e.g., bountiful crops, unproductive hunts, expansion of the tribe).

They also knew that by aligning with the natural rhythms around them, it increased their chances of survival. Harsher climates and shorter days meant staying indoors more to protect themselves and their families from colder weather and nocturnal predators. It was a way for them to stay safe, but also to stay in balance with the cycles of nature and their lives.

Today, we may not have the same threats as our ancestors, but we also have lost our daily connection to Nature. It's less apart of our lives and more a refuge we turn to when we need it. Fortunately, there are many things we can do today to re-enforce this connection, and Winter is a perfect time to do this.

In modern times, we don't have the luxury of modifying our work day to align with shorter days. So instead of modifying your schedule, you can modify your environment to be more in sync with nature -- as it gets dark, gradually dim your lights or even try putting candles out to replace your electric lights. Connecting with the cycles of the day helps us to better connect with the cycles of the season and nature.

Another way to honor the season is to make time for reflection. Easier said than done, but even five minutes a day, meditating, listening to soothing music or just focusing on your breathing, can make a difference. You can also set an intention prior to your reflection to request images, feelings, and thoughts that will help you better understand the lessons in the past year. Winter represents a time to assess our experiences and find the wisdom within them, so this too will help you gain a deeper understanding of this season.

A simple stone gratitude altar
Four primary elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, also align with each of the seasons. While this varies by tribe, often Winter is associated with the Earth. This element helps us to stay more grounded and stable. You can honor this element in your home by creating a small altar made of stones -- something as simple as a circle of stones around a candle that you might light each day. Another option would be to create a miniature cairn -- a welcoming symbol of protection and safe passage for travelers. If you're hosting the holidays, the cairn is a great way to honor your guests who may have traveled many miles to be with you.

In the cycle of life -- birth, childhood, adulthood, senior years -- winter also connects us to the wisdom of our elders so honoring our ancestors can be another way to deepen our connection to the season, and our own heritage. Spend time with the elders of your clan, your parents and grandparents, and see them as wisdom keepers. Listen to their stories and identify the nuggets that resonate with you. Perhaps you can simply silently honor their experiences, so different from your own. Consider creating a family tree so that you can identify your lineage. Delving into our history can help us better connect with ancient cultures that seem to show up in our countenance, the colors of our skin, hair, eyes, even our mannerisms.

So many ways to honor this season; pick one or two, or find your own. Truthfully, the more you honor the season, the more you'll be honoring yourself.  

No comments:

Post a Comment