Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Yin of Winter

Do you ever imagine your winter day as follows; you, curled up in front of a roaring fire, sipping on something warm and delicious, with your favorite slippers on and your favorite book, quiet snow falling on the other side of the windowpane, and Thelonious Monk playing on the stereo... You have no place to go, there is no rush, you don't need to get in your car and drive into the tempest. Your soul's purpose is to rest and, despite a fallacy that suggests otherwise, regrowth is happening in the winter, deep beneath the snow and stillness... and deep under the wooly sweaters and socks, skin, bone and beating heart - There is regrowth.

The season provokes many attachments; to fears of the cold, to fears of dying, departure, solitude. We often find ourselves rushing into the wild winds and sleet to 'produce' the same energy we would on any other day, any other season, in contrast with nature, as usual. Do you, like me, languish in the months of January through March, pining for the spring, thinking of nothing else? Winter gets a bum wrap, and here is why. We do winter all wrong. "Instead of having fun, we often end up feeling ill, anxious, or depressed. The reason, according to Taoist philosophy and traditional Chinese medicine, is that the action-packed schedules we keep at this time of year fall out of sync with the earth's natural cycles." - We need to replenish in winter; take time to nurture a different part of the self and sustain by eating a different diet and doing different things with our bodies, with time, with space; all elements of a well-rounded yoga practice.

"Taoist philosophy conceptualizes universal balance in terms of yin and yang, complementary forces that govern the universe. Yin characteristics are cool, wet, slow, feminine, and quiet, whereas yang is the opposite: warm, dry, fast, masculine, extroverted. Winter, the yin season, is a time for storing and conserving energy in the way a bear retains fat by hibernating, or a farmer stores food for the cold months ahead."

Eat warm, slow-cooked, nourishing foods. GET a slow-cooker, use it in the winter. Turn off the t.v. and the computer (well, after you've check this blog, of course!) and read more. Write in a journal. Turn off the lights and light scented candles with rich aromas of cinnamon and vanilla and MEDITATE. Stare at the flame and watch it dance. Let go (or be dragged).

"The incongruity between winter's restful, introspective, yin nature and the frenetic way many Americans spend their holidays can contribute to seasonal affective disorder, depression, exhaustion, and other manifestations of what is known in TCM as shen (or spiritual) disharmony"

3 or 4 days before Christmas, when everyone else is frantically racing from mall to mall, invite your friends and family over for a different kind of party. Celebrate the shortest day of the year with crafts, warm food and drink and laughter. For Wiccans, the holiday of Yule (or Yuletide) is about bidding farewell  to the old, and celebrating the new things yet to come. As the sun returns to the earth, and days get longer again, life begins once again. Have your own Yule celebration or create a ritual. Abandon the commercialism of this holiday and pay homage to the longest night of the year by  nurturing the yin nature of winter and bringing the light; to your home, to your Yoga and to your spirit. 

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