By Guest Blogger, Linda Sperl
I recently read that instructions for living through the next few months should be simple. Winter is approaching and nature tells us that it is natural to slow down and become quiet and introspective. Yet, as we approach the holiday season, it seems that for many of us, the exact opposite becomes true. Our daily to-do lists begin to become filled with frenetic shopping for holiday foods and gifts, rushing to meet deadlines, overextending our social commitments, skipping regular meals, and perhaps taking in those extra cups of coffee just to keep up the pace. It is no wonder that by the time the holidays do arrive, we are drained, tired, and cranky. We have overworked ourselves into such a state that we have lost our opportunity to enjoy and relax into the quiet and tranquil season of winter.
As the season of winter approaches, please join me in initiating a to-do list makeover. Allow your body, mind, and spirit to naturally follow the inclinations of their natural winter states. Here are a few suggestions that may get you started on resetting your winter buttons:
- Rest more- Although we may feel that we don’t have the time to take brief pauses in our day, rest is imperative. A short, daily cat –nap, 10 minutes of viparita karani (legs up the wall), or stopping to drink a hot, soothing cup of tea are all simple and manageable techniques that can greatly benefit and refuel our energy reserves. It is interesting to note that the idea of a coffee or tea “to go” is relatively unknown in many other countries. Stop, breathe, and enjoy.
- Prepare and eat warm, nourishing meals- Winter gently reminds us that comforting, warm foods allow our bodies to sustain the cold weather season. Preparing warm oatmeal, hot soups, and stews are wonderful antidotes during the cold and flu season. Making big batches of soups can also free up time during the rest of the week. Set the ambiance. Enjoy selecting fresh ingredients. Play soothing music. Become mindful during food preparation. Notice the chopping, stirring, and aromas. Resist answering/talking on the phone or checking your e-mail while cooking and eating. Eat your meals with a grateful heart.
- Practice yoga- Sometimes, the colder season makes us feel like not doing much of anything physically. The good news is that winter is yin season which can mean a quieter, softer practice. Poses may be held for longer periods of time and stretches are gentler and more restorative. Continuing to practice our yoga and gentle movements during these long, dark months benefit, not only our bodies, but our states of mind. Breathe and allow the practice of yoga to nurture and sustain your body, mind, and spirit throughout the season.
- Enjoy winter’s nature- Don’t let the cold keep you indoors for the next few months! Go outside and enjoy the beauty of the season! There are many winter days that are perfect for walks in nature. Have you recently visited Morton’s Bird Sanctuary in Sag Harbor where sweet, little birds will land in the palm of your hand with the promise of a seed? Or the ocean or bay on a sunny afternoon? How about an evening walk with the brilliance of a thousand stars above or a stroll through freshly fallen snow? A connection with nature can reset our winter buttons and freshen our perspective on the season. Practice this regularly to keep your body and soul connected to the earth.
- Go inward- Winter is often considered the most reflective time of year. Consider getting in touch with feelings and thoughts through the practice of journaling. Or begin to sit for meditation for 5-10 minutes everyday. Why not melt away the day with a warm bath before bed? Noticing our thoughts and feelings and allowing them to pass through us can improve our attitudes and our spirits and allow us to move through this season with a lightness of being and a warm heart.
Re-choosing how to enter this season has become an exploratory exercise in self-inquiry. I am suddenly looking forward to my re-vamped to-do list. So, I ask you, what does your to-do list make-over look like?
Wishing you an abundance of blessings this winter season. Namaste!
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