We all have within us an innate capacity to align with the tempo of nature. However, lifelong conditioning from our modern culture has devalued this; meaning we no longer recognise the base instincts that could guide us to connect with our most soulful needs, and our appreciation of the seasons. In this manner, when Winter sets in, rather than welcome it as just another necessary element in the cycle of life, we do everything we can to mask it – and try to pretend it is no different from the other seasons. The modern world allows us the tools for this masking; with central heating systems, electrical lighting and food types from all over the world available all year round. Yet our natural body systems are deeply ingrained, and not easily fooled by contemporary technological environmental management. Despite all our avoidance techniques, we still feel the impact of the lack of sunlight, the draining nature of the longer, colder nights and the sense of lethargy and isolation that can occur from not wanting to leave the house and face the elements. However, if we turn these resistances on their head and instead welcome Winter as an opportunity for hibernation we might begin to see the gifts it affords us – through activating our need to rest and retreat.
YOUR MIND – Take inspiration from Nature and CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION of Winter
Winter is the perfect time for contraction and retreat. Our Harmonizing philosophies are heavily influenced by the wisdom of nature – and in nature Winter is the period when everything begins to retreat and conserve energy for the Spring to follow. If we simply change our perceptions, we can recognise the positives of the season in the same way that nature does. For example, while on the surface it seems like the plants are dying off, out of sight new seeds are germinating and everything is continuing to tick over; simply gearing up for the year ahead. In the same manner, while the dark nights might seem on the surface to incur a state of inertia, this break in activity does not need to be seen as a threat to our productivity but instead as a sparking point for new potential, and a chance to recharge in order to make the most of this potential. Nature doesn’t see Winter as a time be feared or avoided, and if we also stop avoiding it we can harness the same opportunities as nature does to incubate, and sew the seeds for starting fresh. By accepting the elements insistence that we move inside, we can allow ourselves to rest and restore our energy after the busy year just gone. And by accepting the time and space offered by this retreat, we can begin to nurture new projects and ideas, to gather resources and to reflect on our endeavours – and in turn, more effectively recognise the best way to move forward into the year ahead.
YOUR BODY – Listen to your body’s instinctive knowledge: REST, RECHARGE and REFRESH
At Harmonizing we believe that it can help to understand our inner rhythms by viewing life as a series of in and out breaths, and that by living in tandem with these we can find balance. There are always going to be times in life that we find difficult, and yet when these times occur we tend to struggle to let go – to contract, minimise, and release our breath. Modern living has once again conditioned us to continually try to expand – to have more, want more and do more – so much so 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, and as such if we learn to accept that periods of relaxation and making time for letting go are not just allowed, but necessary to create a stronger sense of balance and flow within our lives.
Harmonizing your life requires a mind-set adjustment, and requires you to listen to the needs of your body and value those needs as much as the desires of your mind. Our body always knows what it needs, but we don’t always recognise those needs amidst the noise of our thoughts. If we carry on fighting to take bigger in breaths, and ignoring the impulse of our body to let go, our bodies become distressed, and therefore our stress increases and our effectiveness in the world declines.
The Harmonizing Alignment Process teaches us to reconnect with what our body is trying to tell us; by placing value on the importance of softening, slowing down and pausing regularly.
In this sense we can see Winter as nature’s way of reminding us to take our out breath, and more comfortably accept the reprieve we crave in order not to explode and burnout. Winter may be a season of emptiness, but it is an emptiness we might wish to welcome.
We could view this pause as a gift which contains purpose, rather than a time where we lose control. Our society views pauses and gaps as time wasted and slowing down as a sign of weakness, however by simply plugging the gap you aren’t allowing for adequate reflection time to assess how you truly feel, and you may find yourself in a cycle of repeating the same mistake over and over. Taking this time to recharge, and to properly reflect on the successes and challenges of the past year, is a powerful tool to help us move more productively into the New Year to come.
YOUR SOUL – Transform your perception of death to embrace Winter’s preparation of fresh beginnings
Another perception we aim to change is winter’s negative association with death. Death does not need to be seen as a negative and scary concept, and Winter exemplifies how death is in fact often simply paving the way for new life – as we witness from the life cycles of many plants coming to an end in order to make space for 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 we can open our minds to see it as a transformation of energy from one form to another, rather than a stone-cold ending, then we can 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 we can transform our perception of death from life’s enemy to its source then we also can begin to view our 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 us this space to be patient; gifting us the time to incubate our own personal regeneration, and encouraging us to do so by extending the nights and ushering us inside. If we use the death metaphors provided during this time further, we can also use this time to recognise which areas of our life have reached their own endings; and accept the passing of these in order to open ourselves more fully to fresh opportunities and experiences come Spring.
And so, if we come to recognise that everything in the natural world relies upon the life, death and rebirth cycle then we can trust that even our darkest and most empty moments in life will be temporary – and which will be preparing us to receive the sustenance needed to move onwards and upwards when we are ready.