Winter is the time when nature slows down and turns inward. The beauty of nature insists on taking its time. Everything is prepared. Nothing is rushed. The rhythm of emergence is a gradual, slow beat. What is true for nature is equally valid for us. Wherever we live, each season carries an archetypal energy that has a reason. Yet, chances are that you are running faster and faster right now. Your to-do list is a mile long and the more you do, the more there seems to be left to do. And, if for any reason you are not running as fast as everybody else, and not doing as much as you think you should do, you might feel stuck, depressed, going nowhere, winter feeling like a dark hole that you wonder how to claw out of. In fact, those feelings are not mutually exclusive and can be the two sides of a same coin. Trust me… I know it first hand.
We live in a culture of speed and business (and, at times, immediacy) that just clashes with the stillness of hibernation. And there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, except when it leaves us struggling, overwhelmed, and crying for a pause button. There might be not much we can do to turn down the intensity of the energies at play around us right now. However, we can choose to slow down and go deeper inward, creating a little bit more space within, giving the chance for life to grow and for us to open to the new.
Here is an invitation for you and me to slow down and go inward, allowing our whole being to get ready for the spring.
1. Do less
Prioritize the most important things on your to-do list and see what you can suppress that is not indispensable. In “The Power of Less”, Leo Babauta recommends choosing three most important tasks for the day and doing them first. Doing less also often means learning how to say ‘no’ to things, both at work and in your personal life. Saying ‘no’ is probably one of the most important things I have learned in life.
2. Let go of the fear of missing out
Yes, choosing to stay in one night, or to take a nap instead of going to a lunch or a party with friends, means that you are renouncing to these other things you could do. But when I see people who are already exhausted or overwhelmed and who keep bouncing from activity to activity, without taking the time to experience (and at times integrate) any of them, I just want to say: “Stop!” Yes, you miss opportunities all day long by choosing things that matter most, but what you may miss by trying to do it all and have it all can never be replaced.
3. Notice how you use your time
Our culture is quite masterful at inviting distraction as a way to avoid the discomfort that occurs when we slow down. Just when the conscious work is to turn inward and sit with what you find there, the culture does everything in its power to redirect you outward. A friend of mine recently pointed out to me that you can spend two hours on Facebook and think that it has just been a few minutes, while a two hour-walk can make you feel like you have gone on a full vacation (which is, by the way, what I hear all the time from people who come for a shamanic session or a meditation class with me). So, yes, without being judgmental about it, you may want to reconsider how you use your time, and break away from social media just a little bit, maybe going on Facebook only once a day, or putting some limit to the time you spend online. Substitute some of it with going for a walk outside, reading a book, listening to music, going to a meditation class, etc.
4. Practice single tasking
With modern ways of communication (which don’t necessarily make us feel more connected), you may often find yourself talking on the phone while driving, answering emails while eating a meal, or even checking your social media activity while you are in the company of friends. Multi-tasking has become far too common in our day-to-day lives. Not only does it dilute the quality of our presence, it can often hamper efficiency and compromise our brain’s ability to commit what we are learning to long-term memory. So my challenge to you is this: try to practice single tasking at least once a day to begin with. Be mindful of the tasks at hand and give your full attention to what you are doing, whether it’s watering your plants, composing an email, eating a meal or listening to a friend’s troubles.
5. Look for the silence (in between the noise)
Carve some time during your day when you can be silent, and be silent, and be silent, and wait… until something can be heard and seen and felt, beyond words, images and sensations. Sometimes this will open you up in unexpected ways and you may find yourself filled with sadness, grief or anger. This is OK and I encourage you to sit with whatever feelings come up for you. All feelings are good ones. Sometimes they just need to come up to be released. If you are asking for something new in your life, know that in order to make space for it you may need to release what is filling up this space.
6. Offer your silence to somebody else
In the business and loudness that life can be, silence might be the most important thing you bring to another person. Not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is “a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance. ” As Rachel Naomi Remen rightly points out, “we are all hungry for this other silence” and it is hard to find. Yet, it is the most healing and magical way you might be able to support somebody else and, this way, allow yourself to also go deeper inward.
7. Breathe and start over
Return to the art of slow whenever you feel rushed or scattered. As soon as you notice that you are lost in the busyness of the day or your life, stop. Simply pause. Take a deep breath. Connect with your breath in your body (choosing a place in your body where it is easier for you to connect with your breath). Breathe into any parts of your body that feel tense or in pain. Now put your hand on your heart and breathe into it. Breathe in through your chest front. Breathe out through your back. Feel your heart beating and be fully present with this feeling. And then reconnect with who you choose to be now. There is no right or wrong answer to this. But one thing I know is that who you are is so much more than your to-do list
Enjoy your presence as you choose to slow down and go inward. And share your own tips for slowing down!
Béatrice | Contemporary Shamanic Healer
Allowing The Light
[…] Beatrice Pouligny’s latest post permits me to do both. I hope you love it. And all I have to do is add, “What she said!” Her wisdom is exactly timely and beautifully expressed. […]
Thank you Beth Raps!
Glad that it resonates with your readers.
Blessings to you,
Beatrice, thank YOU. I’ve reread your post again, it is truly a “signpost” on the path to Winter’s depths. Your post inspired me to add one more thing in Thursday’s blog post about grounding. I am feeling so deeply the Earth element, wanting to be immersed in it. Yet if I look around me with my physical eyes, the Earth is frozen, uninviting to touch, She is hibernating Herself. When I look within with spiritual eyes, I see myself hugging the Mother who is moist and warm and fresh, like the Spring Earth coming. So this is the next blog post.
Yes Beth! And thank you for this addition. As my clients and meditation students know, I am always big on grounding — in all seasons! This is our foundation, in particular when the winds blow very strong around (as it has been the case lately!).