Winter the Season of Discontent
Are you finding life has an element of struggle in it at the moment? Do you notice that you are ‘flat-lining’ it, so that you feel less exuberant about life and find it harder to summon up the energy to turn things around? Is your relationship challenging you and is your partner wearing the face of someone you seem to dislike recently, more than like? Do you seem to be withdrawn and find the thought of facing people on a social level distasteful or even difficult? Do you look in the mirror and see more lines than you want and notice that your skin is dry and lifeless?
Then you are not alone. There are many people in Australia right now feeling the pinch of discontent, downright depression and disillusionment with their appearance at this time of the year.
Why? …..simply because it is winter. And in winter, the vital force contracts deep into the body in a kind of semi-hibernation.
All living beings (including animals and plants) are animated by vital life force energy, which drives the functioning of the physical body and it’s behaviour, thoughts and emotions. Vital life force energy is subject to variance based on the seasons – cold contracts energy and warmth expands it.
You will notice it with deciduous trees in particular. In winter these trees are leafless, splendid sculptures of bare branches etched against the sky. As spring approaches, we see buds appear tentatively, in response to the weather warming up, expanding the sap upwards and outwards from the trunk where it has been stored during winter, to the very tips of the branches.
Come summer, and the life force energy that gives the tree life and function, is expanded fully in the warmth of the atmosphere, expressed in a glorious abundance of growth, with both leaves and flowers boisterously hanging from the branches, expanded to the utmost.
Late summer ripens the fruit, and it becomes heavy and pendulous, hanging downwards towards the ground. It ultimately falls back to the soil as the energy begins to contract again with summer moving into autumn.
In autumn, the fruit breaks down and returns to the moist earth, burying the seed of the next generation deep into the ground.
Here in its contracted form during winter, the seed remains still and waits, as does the life energy of the tree, now contracted deep into the lower trunk and roots and the branches bare again. The tree is restocking and restoring its energy during this time of quiescence.
But the seed is expectant with life. It carries the promise of the new plant to come, with the roll of the seasons back to spring, and regeneration, again. The life cycle has completed one full revolution in rhythm with the seasons.
The life energy of humans undergoes the same seasonal expansion/contraction cycle. And with the variance comes a major shift in our moods, behaviours, attitudes and physical functioning. For each seasonal phase has a specific purpose that supports the whole wellbeing of the organism.
These energy cycles are natural and express the way that life sustains itself.
In the world of humans, the expansion of energy that accompanies the warmth of summer means that our vitality is high and outwardly directed – we become more social at these times and life is fuller and more abundant. We expend more energy with increased social activity, higher work production and longer days leading to less sleep.
We also seem to have better health with not as many colds and flu during this phase of increased movement. If you work out or do yoga you will notice that your muscles work harder and are more flexible in the warmth. So too, it is with our internal organs. They tend to function better in the warmth than they do in the cold. We digest our food better, clear toxins more efficiently and the lubricating systems for the skin, bowel, joints and our sexual activity are more abundant and flow easier. Hence the skin is smoother less dry and has a moister appearance. So too with our blood – it circulates more readily to our hands and feet when it is warm.
Cold hands and feet are more prevalent in winter (unless a person is suffering with a specific circulatory disorder). This is because cold contracts both energy and the flow of blood. Blood flow is slower and less robust so the heart is less excited. This is why we often feel closed off or less loving in winter, as the heart is the seat of our feelings towards other people. Some people call this feeling of reduced responsiveness to others depression. But, it is important to recognize that this ’flat-lining’ is natural and is a signal that we are meant to be focusing more inwardly at this time, not outwardly expending our energy on others. Winter is the time for inner reflection, restoring and restocking our soul and gifting ourselves with treasures that nourish our inner being. It is a great time to catch up on all that reading we have wanted to do, snuggled up in bed feeding the soul, while restocking the body.
Because organs function more sluggishly, we tend to put on more weight in winter, but come spring and if the body is well rejuvenated and regenerated, then the increased activity as energy begins to expand again will slough off the extra in no time. Bingo, we are ready to expose the body again in our swimmers as the summer heat approaches!
The natural consequence of this slowing down is that we have less vital energy at our disposal in winter. That means that there is not as much energy for the expression of emotions (energy-in-motion) – hence that feeling of ‘flat-lining’ – or for physical functioning. The problem is that if we go against the flow, that is refuse to restock and restore at the time when our body and mind is naturally geared to do so, we begin to plunder our basic resources. Bit by bit, over time, the BodyMind becomes more and more run down and eventually moves into a pattern of chronic illness, loss of vitality, infertility and early aging. We lose the ‘spring in the step’ and can become chronically depressed and increasingly isolated with a deficit in the vital energy required to keep up with life.
Nature in her wisdom has created a rest and re-creation (this word says it all!) phase (autumn and winter) designed to restore, restock, regenerate and rejuvenate the body systems followed by a phase of activity (spring and summer) where we are full of creativity and the desire to engage socially.
By following the natural life cycles embedded in all living beings we, as humans can experience optimal health of the body and mind in the way that Nature intended and live long and fruitful lives as a consequence.
So listen to the intuitive wisdom of your BodyMind. If you are feeling depressed, take it as a signal from your body intelligence directing you to use this time fruitfully. Instead if dwelling on the negative aspects of your ‘depression’ take the time to read, journal, sleep more, stay warm, snuggle with your beloved and watch a favourite video. If you don’t feel like having sex, don’t panic and think that it is because you no longer love him, but rather recognize that your sexual energy is low and needs a refill with rest, sleep and good food. Be assured that if you take this wisdom to heart, your libido will bounce back in spring with renewed vigour.
If you feel like you are being a social ‘wet blanket’ just quietly tell your friends that your are having some ‘me’ time and then stand back and watch their reaction, because you can be sure that they ‘know’ that this is what they also need, but haven’t been in touch with their inner wisdom sufficiently to act upon it!! You may start a new trend – and you can still keep in touch by texting!!
Remember too, to slather on the moisturizer. Winter skin needs plenty of moisture because your system is drier that in summer.
Wear warm clothes to assist your circulation – it will nourish your skin, your muscles and your organs. Cold contracts muscles and makes you stiff. When you stay warm you remain flexible in body and mind. Wear scarves that keep your neck warm – it is a vulnerable area to cold. So too, is the pelvis – women often have increased period pain in winter because blood can’t flow as well, causing severe pain. Keeping your legs, feet, buttocks and lower abdomen warm will ensure that your periods will flow more easily and less painfully.
Avoid cold foods in winter and eat only cooked foods. The digestion system struggles in winter and you can assist your digestive power (and hence ramp up your available energy) by pre-digesting your food through cooking it – long slow cooking is best, such as stews and soups – they are easily assimilated.
Spirit of Woman Essences will assist you in that process of tuning in to your own needs and natural rhythms during the ‘dark’ of winter:
- Silver Wattle for pessimism and depression. It opens you up to ‘seeing the light at the end of the tunnel’ and to treasure seeking the ‘gold’ within.
- Snail Vine for depleted sexual energy, infertility and fatigue. It awakens you to the awareness of the need for rest and re-creation to restore and restock your deep resource energy.
- Swamp Lily for exhaustion and feeling over-stretched and dried out. It assists you to refocus on your own energy needs and prioritise them by resting. It helps to re-moisturise your body systems.
- Dandelion for disconnection from your body intelligence. It helps you to align with the physical needs of your body rather than just listening to the strivings of your mind. It also assists digestive function.
- White Wandering Jew helps with SAD syndrome – Seasonally Affective Disorder – that results in depression from lack of sunshine. It helps to balance the Pineal Gland and restore balance to the body clock.
- Wild Iris for feeling out of touch with our own wisdom and over-influenced by the ‘outer world’. It assists you to tune in to the deep inner wisdom of the Wise Woman within to know what is best for you in any situation. Balances your hormones.
So, enjoy the starkness of winter – it is a wonderful time to explore your inner being and to withdraw from the world. When you do, you revitalize, restore, rejuvenate and regenerate. It is better than a good night’s sleep – in reality, it is a sound investment in your long-term health and wellbeing and will awaken you to the quiet joy of the dark season.