Dr. Selena Faiers, MD MCFPMind/Body

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The power of winter is the power of emphasis: it emphasizes the essence of life. Without the external ornamentation of leaves, flowers, and fruits of the growing season, the plant is just bare essence: a seed, with its potential deep inside. For us, winter is a time of self-recollection, when we can go inside to that place where we are unadorned essence. We can use the energy of this season to more deeply discover the essence of our self.

Winter is for us, as it is for all of nature, a time for internal work: meditation, containment, concentration, and the storing of our energy. We use this season for rest and the filling and maintenance of our reserves, gathering strength for the year ahead.

Winter is a time of stillness and quietude, nature’s energy having turned in during this most inward-looking of all the seasons. There is work going on, but inside. The energy of winter is latent and potent: in this state of resting deep within, energy is collected and held in reserve.

Abundant reserves within give us courage and strength of will. Lacking these reserves, we manifest the emotion that the Chinese for over 5000 years have associated with the Water element: fear. More commonly, the emotion of a distressed Water element is fear of not having enough of what it takes to meet the challenge that lies ahead: fear of being unable to complete what we’ve envisioned, fear of being inadequately prepared for what we might have to face. It’s as if we don’t have enough stored away to survive the winter.

Allowing ourselves to simply be still and quiet, containing our energy within ourselves, is to stand in the energy of the Water element. Living in a society of continual striving and exertion, we expect instant results and immediate answers. But nature has another idea: everything to its season. Within nature are already all the answers, we just have to be quiet enough to listen and be empty enough to be filled.

As the days become warmer and brighter with the approach of spring, nature opens her eyes from the slumber of winter and looks to the new growth cycle that lies ahead. If we have followed nature’s way and taken a winter rest, we emerge into spring ready to go with restored energy, clear vision, and a sense of purpose.

Suggestions for Harmonic Living

  • Get more rest.
    This is nature’s season for rest, repair, and regeneration—a phase important for our next cycle of growth – retire early at night and rise late in the morning.
  • Schedule more time for your inner life.
    Use the energy of the season to discover more about yourself through reflection, reading literature that “restores the spirit,” being more aware of your senses, paying attention to your dreams. The winter season is an especially good time to begin the practice of meditation.

You “can’t” meditate, try this – Light a match and watch it burn, that’s it, takes about 40 seconds.

  • Choose more “warming” foods.
    As the weather cools and the body needs to generate more warmth (ginger, cinnamon, turmeric), include more cooked foods and long lasting complex carbohydrates in your meals. Try dishes made with whole grains, squashes, beans, peas, and sweet potatoes, soups and stews, warm herbal tea.
  • “Gather around the hearth” with people who mean the most to you.

Winter evenings are an especially good time to rejuvenate and deepen relationships with those closest to you. Keep gatherings simple and relaxed.

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