We all have within us an innate capacity to align with the tempo of nature. However, lifelong conditioning from modern culture has devalued this; meaning we no longer recognise those base instincts that could guide us to connect with our most soulful needs. We can see this demonstrated through our reaction as a society to the arrival of Winter – we do everything we can to pretend nothing in our daily routines needs altering, and find ways to mask any changes rather than attempting to embrace them.
The modern world allows us the tools for such masking; with central heating systems, electrical lighting and food types from across the globe available all year round. Yet our natural body systems are deeply ingrained, and not as easily fooled by contemporary environmental management as our minds are. Despite arming ourselves with these avoidance techniques, we still feel the impact of the lack of sunlight and the longer, colder nights. Many of us still struggle with feelings of lethargy or isolation, as we find ourselves less willing to leave the house and face the elements.
However, we can relearn how to align our personal cycles with the tempo of the seasons – mainly through some simple shifts in perception. We put so much energy into resisting the changes in lifestyle which Winter encourages because we perceive these changes to be negative. If we can teach ourselves to stop resisting, and perceive these changes as positive, then we can recognise the gift of rest and relief being offered to us by WInter. View your partial retreat from the world not as an act of isolation, but as an opportunity for hibernation: to rest, reflect and recharge.
We’ve put together this guide to highlight in a little more depth the ways in which you can begin to re-align your perceptions of Winter, so that you, too, can learn how best to fully embrace the gifts of this misunderstood season.
align your mind: transform your perception of winter
Winter is the perfect time for contraction and retreat. Our Harmonizing philosophy is heavily influenced by the wisdom of nature – and in nature, Winter is the period when everything begins to retreat and to conserve energy for the Spring. It would be easy to misconstrue this retreat as negative – on the surface, it seems like the plants are simply dying off. Yet underneath and out of sight, new seeds are germinating and everything is continuing to tick over whilst gently gearing up for the year ahead. It can be helpful to remember this while you look again at your own interaction with Winter. On the surface it may feel as if the state of inertia brought on by the dark nights is holding you back, yet try instead to view this break in activity as a sparking point for new potential, which can only be cultivated through proper time to rest and recharge.
By learning to accept the guidance of the season as it encourages you to move inside, you can allow yourself to restore your energy after the busy year just finishing. By harnessing the gift of time and space which this retreat from the world offers, you will naturally begin to nurture new projects and ideas, gather resources and reflect on your endeavours – allowing you to more effectively recognise the best way to move forward into the year ahead.
align your body: rest, recharge and refresh
At Harmonizing we believe that it can help to understand our inner rhythms if we view life as a series of in and out breaths, and that living in tandem with these can help us find balance. There are always going to be times in life that we find difficult, and when these times occur we tend to struggle to let go – to contract, minimise, and release our breath. Modern living has conditioned us to continually try to expand – to have more, want more, do more – to the extent that the idea of pausing or stopping seems alien to us. But it is not possible to take a continual in-breath, or we would explode – breathing out is necessary to function. You might find it helpful to remember this, to allow yourself to accept that periods of relaxation are not only okay, but are necessary for creating a stronger sense of balance and flow within your life.
Aligning your body to seasonal living requires listening to the needs of your body, and learning to value those needs as much as you value the desires of your mind. Your body knows what it needs, but you might not always recognise this amidst the noise of your thoughts. If you carry on fighting to take bigger in-breaths, while ignoring the body’s impulse to let go, you will become physically distressed, mentally stressed and find your usual ability to function impaired.
The Harmonizing Alignment Process teaches you to reconnect with what your body is trying to tell you; by placing value on the importance of softening, slowing down and pausing regularly. If you can learn to see Winter as nature’s way of reminding you to take your out-breath, then you will feel more comfortable accepting the reprieve which your body is craving in order to not burnout. Winter may be a season of emptiness, but it is an emptiness you might wish to welcome.
align your soul: embrace the natural cycles of life and death
Another perception you will find useful to transform is Winter’s association with death. Death does not need to be seen as a negative, scary concept, and Winter actually helps to exemplify how it is simply nature’s method of paving the way for new life – as witnessed in the life cycles of the many plants coming to an end at this time, in order to make space for all the fresh new seedlings come Spring. Death is an essential component of the birth, death and rebirth cycle which provides the blueprint for all of creation – if you can open your mind to see it as a transformation of energy from one form to another, rather than a stone-cold ending, then you may feel able to stop being scared of it and realise instead that it is vital for the sustainability of all life.
This transformation of energy from one form to another is vital for life to occur. As such, if you can transform your perception of death from life’s enemy to it’s source, then you also can begin to view your most challenging periods in life in a more encouraging and positive way. As Carl Jung says, “We need the coldness of death to see clearly, life wants to live and to die, to begin and to end.” It also helps to realise that while death allows for regeneration, regeneration can take time – and so patience may be needed. Winter allows this space to be patient; gifting you the time to incubate your own personal regeneration, and encouraging you to do so by extending the nights and ushering you inside. Taking the metaphor of death one step further, you can also use this time to recognise which areas of your life have reached their own natural endings. If you can accept the passing of these, you will find yourself more open to fresh opportunities and experiences come Spring.
And on a deeper level, if you can learn to embrace the recognition that everything in the natural world relies upon the life, death and rebirth cycle, then you may find a way to trust that even your darkest and most empty moments in life will be temporary – and will help to prepare you to receive the sustenance needed to move onwards and upwards when you are ready.
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