“Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt… winter is asking us to be more careful with our energies until Spring.” – Katherine May, Wintering
As the Solstice is upon us, I wonder…How do you settle into the reality of Winter? Do you take a cue from the plants and animals and the rhythms of nature? Do you have strategies to help you be more careful with your energies until Spring? Here are a few ideas not only to nurture you through, but also to build your inner capacity for more difficult times.
Havening: Embrace Your Inner Resource
The Inner Resource Meditation is a mindfulness practice that aims to cultivate a sense of inner strength, calmness, and resilience. During this meditation, you create a mental sanctuary within yourself, a place where you can feel safe and at ease. Here’s a step-by-step guide to practicing the Inner Resource Meditation:
1️⃣ Find a quiet and comfortable place where you can sit or lie down. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax your body and mind.
2️⃣ Begin by bringing your attention to your breath. Notice the sensation of the breath as you inhale and exhale. Allow your breath to become slow, deep, and natural.
3️⃣ Imagine a place that brings you a sense of peace, safety, and tranquility. It could be a real location you’ve been to or a completely imaginary space. Visualize this place in vivid detail, noticing the colors, textures, and sounds.
4️⃣ Explore your inner sanctuary and identify the resources that make you feel strong, supported, and empowered. These resources could include qualities like love, compassion, inner wisdom, strength, or any other positive attributes that resonate with you.
5️⃣ As you connect with each resource, take a moment to reflect on how it feels within you. Allow yourself to experience the sensations associated with each resource, whether it’s a warm feeling, a sense of stability, or a deep sense of well-being.
6️⃣ Spend a few moments fully immersing yourself in the presence of these inner resources. Breathe into them, allowing them to expand and fill your entire being.
7️⃣ Whenever you feel ready, express gratitude for these inner resources and the support they provide. Take a few more deep breaths, slowly bring your awareness back to the present moment, and gently open your eyes.
The Inner Resource Meditation can be a powerful practice to cultivate inner strength, resilience, and a sense of well-being. It can be done regularly or whenever you feel the need to recharge and connect with your inner resources.
Nourishing the Nervous System: A Journey to Stillness
Our nervous system is a gateway to our overall well-being. Here is a fairly short sequence to offer stability, a connection to ground, and stillness. One could include the movements described here to start, or simply sit and practice Adhi Mudra as directed below.
1️⃣ Begin with a standing pose like Mountain Pose.
2️⃣ Move through several rounds of half Surya Namaskar.
3️⃣ Make your way to Downward Dog.
4️⃣ Come to rest in Child’s Pose.
5️⃣ Move to seated either in on your heels or another more comfortable seat on the floor or in a chair.
6️⃣ Place the hands in Adhi Mudra — hands in fists with the thumbs on the inside. Let the hands rest palms down on the legs or lap. This gesture of stillness directs breath, energy and awareness to the base of the body. It activates the earth element and lengthens the exhale, which is calming for the nervous system. It also expands the pause after the exhale and offers a haven to rest in stillness. Hold this gesture for 1-5 minutes. (As described in Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Joseph & Lillian LePage, p 40.)
And let’s remember, even as we embrace the darkness of Winter and this moment to be still, therein lies another promise of nature: The light will return.