Lisa Miller: Winter’s Rhythm is Right On, Right On, RIGHT ON, Baby

“There’s nothing “wrong” with needing more sleep, or letting ideas rest this season—it’s only natural.  It’s permission to revel in the easier pace.   Go on, revel!”

A psychologist in town asked me to help her plan a healthy body image workshop for girls and their mothers.  So we met today at her home office on her horse farm, which if you ask me is a pretty great place to hold a meeting.

In addition to the many reasons I enjoyed this meeting, I benefited deeply from the beauty of Kentucky nature that surrounds her little farm.  Even in the middle of winter, the natural flow of the life-cycle is easy to feel there.  I’m talking about the hibernating trees, the water eroded spots in the grass, the dormant gardens, and the thick soft coats that the horses grow.  I felt the beauty in these predictable, natural aspects of nature despite having become an outspoken professional whiner about the winter season in recent years.

I’m writing about this because going with the flow of the four seasons—understanding that we  humans are designed to take cues from the symbolic and environmental qualities of each season in particular—can  be a powerful and nourishing way to maintain emotional and physical health throughout the entire year.

Lisa MillerThis truth is evident from many of the wisdom traditions around the world.  In particular, Native American tradition teaches that winter is THE time to slow down, sleep a little more, sit with projects. In Ayurvedic medicine from India, the circadian rhythm is an internal 24 hour clock that measures the slower and heightened energy hours of each day, even.

But I read an FB post this week that said, “I have so much energy when the moon is full, I’ll know I’ve arrived when I can maintain that zing during the rest of the month.”

The truth is that living in rhythm with nature means that there are times in the day, the month, and the year that are naturally slower and less energetic.  We need them because we are not machines—we are supposed to notice when personal energy feels slower, lazier, less exhuberent.  And then we’re supposed to go with it—lean into it, ENJOY it.  It’s each body’s internal system of need that determines health, not external, intellectual rules.  What makes sense for one body, may not, for another.

But nature can confirm that what we are noticing about ourselves is right on.  We can look at our own regional seasonal patterns for information about this.  Our internal energy system entrains with our environment.  I love this—it reminds me that I’m not in control of everything all the time.  I like giving it up to the higher order of things.  Yes, Mother Nature, you are all that (and a bag of chips and a peanut butter pie that tastes particularly delicious this January).

So while I don’t like the windy cold of winter, I can really appreciate now its inherent sleeping beauty.  There’s nothing “wrong” with needing more sleep, or letting ideas rest this season—it’s only natural.  It’s permission to revel in the easier pace.   Go on, revel!

And when girls and moms gather at the farm in spring for the workshop we facilitate, we’ll teach them how to listen to the internal voice inside that is especially strong in women, that says exactly what is needed.  These workshops are always about empowerment; there is no doubt that honoring the intuitive voice inside is a deeply empowering way to live each day, and season.

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