Winter is here! This is the most Yin time of the year when the energy in the environment and our bodies goes deep and internal. Do not be surprised if you find yourself wanting to sleep for longer or simply not wanting to do much. This is normal: it’s a time of reflection and introspection. What is not so natural is the holiday season craze on the commercial level, the hustle and bustle of the big shopping days, and the stress that can go with that. There is nothing wrong with having some excitement and fun family activity; it does bring much needed warmth to a long deep freeze. The problem is, as always, the scale with which one can get carried away when we are really meant to be mostly quiet and internal.
Travelling & Winter
As with any other season, if we are not going along with the natural flow and overall tendencies of the season, we will be negatively affected on the energetic level. In other words, in summer we can be active and outside enjoying longer days, but in winter we are meant to be less active and quieter to conserve energy which is really meant to keep us warm and help us survive the winter, albeit nowadays it is much easier to survive winters. On an energetic level, there is no fooling nature! Often people travel to warmer places to avoid the dread of long dark days of winter. This, from an energetic perspective, is not advisable as it disrupts the natural completion of the seasonal cycle and its important effects on our physiology, psychology and spirituality. You are artificially transplanting yourself from a cold environment to a warm place at a time of year when you, really, are meant to be still and quiet. Yes, this stillness and self-reflection can bring one face to face with fears and insecurities that have been hidden and buried deep. The extreme nature of travelling to a warm place and then coming back to the cold can only wreak havoc on the system. We may feel a bit more alive for doing so as the warmth of our holiday destination will no doubt perk us up but the disturbance on the energetic level will not go unnoticed and can manifest itself for weeks or months to come.
It is better to be able to embrace the winter and allow our bodies a natural break from its nonstop efforts throughout the year.
Nutrition and Health Tips for Winter
The following are general recommendations for smooth sailing through the dark days of winter:
- Eat mostly cooked, warm, hearty meals. Soups and stews are perfect for winter. Avoid eating too much salad, fruit, smoothies, or raw foods in general, though small amounts are okay.
- Use root veggies in your cooking. They nurture and nourish our roots at a time that we are meant to get in touch with our depth and root.
- It’s okay to have meals that are more rich, fatty and hearty to your level of digestive tolerance and acceptance. Fats have a very yin quality to them. They are heavy and rich and upon ingestion release a good amount of heat which we can use in winter. We are not talking flax seed oil or olive oil here; we are talking butter, coconut oil, animal fat and generally the good hearty stuff.
- Do not shy away from using sea salt or rock salt in your cooking. People think of salt negatively because of media misinformation. Proper salt is essential to our physiology. Salt is very yin and comes from the sea or salt mines which connect energetically with a primordial source of life: very grounding.
- Keep yourself warm. This, of course, goes without saying but I am still amazed when I see people walking about with shorts and T shirts. Keep your feet, legs, lower back and lower abdomen covered up.
- Our bodies (the muscles, tendons and ligaments) tend to contract in the cold. While it’s advisable to be still and introspective, we do need to move our bodies so things don’t get too stiff, ensuring a smooth flow on all three levels: mind, body and spirit. Some regular daily movement is great. It does not need to be one and a half hours at the gym; a short walk, a half hour yoga routine or some tai chi will go a long way.
- This is definitely the time of year for meditation. Do not be shy about this; give it a go. Sit either on a chair or cross-legged with a prop under you and simply breathe with your eyes closed and your mind focused on the area below your belly button. Breathing into this area (the core) brings you in touch with your roots, adding warmth to an area which is often devoid of energy due to our modern lifestyle.