As we rang in the New Year just a handful of nights ago, many of us shared in a similar sentiment: good riddance, 2020. It was a welcome end to a year full of unprecedented hardship: isolation, anxiety, and loss, not just of jobs and opportunities, but of loved ones as well. At the close of last winter, none of us could have predicted that come January 2021, we as a nation would still be struggling under the ever-increasing weight of this pandemic. And as the full force of winter sets in, it can be easy to fall into a bleak mindset.
But I’m here to offer a different perspective. This winter, in fact, may present a beautiful opportunity: the first time many of us will have the chance to experience winter as nature intended.
Just as we looked to the trees as they demonstrated the art of letting go last fall, we can once again peer through our windows to make sense of this cold, dark season. Although this time, we may have to look a bit closer.
The trees, now bare, sit in apparent stillness and silence; birds no longer nesting in their canopy, leaves, usually waving life into the branches as they catch a breeze, gone. At the tree base, their brown, furled remains are making their final descent into the soil below. From our perspective, everything looks still. And on the surface, it is.
But beneath the hard ground, life is doing its deepest work. Roots continue to press deeper into the Earth, seeking out new sources of nutrients and anchoring strong for the coming year.
By contrast, our culture tends to put our heads down and push on through the biting cold. We despise inertia; slowing down is perceived as laziness and lack of will. In an electric world, why should external cold and dark keep us from moving forward just as actively as ever?
But this is unsustainable. We forget that we are nature, just as much as the trees outside our windows - and just like them, we cannot expect vast growth and expansion without periods of rest and introspection. There is no light without the darkness.
So instead of resolving to start your year’s growth with a bang, perhaps you can resolve to settle into the season by slowing down and allowing the growth beneath the surface to unfold. Instead of lamenting the lockdowns, listen to the urges of the cold & darkness to go inward. They would be whispering even without a pandemic, as they do every year. This time, choose to hear.
Of course, experiencing true winter doesn’t mean doing nothing at all. It’s important that we connect with our roots, and actively aid their growth in this time. That way, when Spring comes, our minds, bodies, and spirits will be ready to burst forth with the leaves and set our goals into action.
Just like I did last fall, I’ll share a few ideas for deeply nourishing activities you can do this winter.
For Your Mind
Actually, it is the resolution to be still that takes true will. Embracing stillness can be extremely challenging. Our minds are used to constant stimulation, and stillness can be so uncomfortable it may even induce anxiety. When we don’t have our usual activities to keep us bustling about like busy bees, it can be hard to keep our eyes off our screens and on something more useful.
I suggest turning instead to the page. There is so much we can do with a blank page, and expressing yourself through writing, drawing, painting, etc. will feel much better than numbing your mind with the incessant expressions of others on social media.
Onto the Page
One extremely helpful practice is called stream of conscious journaling. Sit down with a blank journal, pick a time limit or a number of pages, and write until you’ve reached the end. You can write anything: whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t matter. When you’re done, nobody, including yourself, ever has to read it. You can even burn the pages, if you’d like. The purpose is to get those thoughts that echo around in your head out of your head, and onto a page. And the trick is to not stop writing. Even if what you write is, “Ummmmm… I don’t know what to write, I can’t think of anything to say, lalalala,” keep writing. A new thought will come. Do this every day, even just 10 minutes or one page, and I guarantee you will feel lighter!
If starting from a blank page feels daunting, consider getting yourself a Sunrise Manifesto journal, which offers a more guided approach to a quick but powerful morning writing ritual.
Another wonderful winter practice is manifesting, or intention setting. Think of it as setting New Year’s resolutions, but with a little more thought and care. Again, sit down with a page, and visualize what you want for the year to come. A new job, your ideal romantic partner, an adventure - whatever it may be. Then write it down, or draw it. (Hint: you don’t have to be an “artist” to draw or paint. No one is going to see or judge what you create.) You can do this over and over. Every day, even. The more persistent and specific you are, the more clearly you invite your desires into your life.
Plus, you’ll be creating a clear blueprint for what you want, and allowing it to sink into your consciousness. Come April, you’ll be ready to spring into action to fulfill your goals.
For your Body
Nourishing and caring for your body is one of the most crucial things you can do in the winter. The nutrients we feed ourselves set the foundation for the rest of the year. In the fall blog I mentioned our culture’s failure to eat with the seasons; this winter, I suggest using your extra downtime to prepare nutritious, winter-friendly meals.
Nourishment In Focus: Kidneys
Winter is the season of the kidneys in Chinese medicine. The kidneys store our energy for the year to come, and now is the time to replenish that store. Eat hearty foods that are in season, like squashes, root vegetables, beans and winter greens. Make soups and stews with quality bone broth. Snack on salted nuts & carrots with hummus, instead of processed, nutritionless foods. Take daily vitamin D to supplement the limited sunlight (and maybe protect yourself from the coronavirus.)
Living in harmony with winter doesn’t mean going completely catatonic; it’s still important to move. Exercise daily, but don’t necessarily run a marathon. Slower movements, like Qi Gong and slow-flow yoga both nourish and strengthen your body. You can even slow down your standard work out (think: squats, push-ups, crunches) without losing strength. Try doing one, slow push-up over 20 full seconds. I bet it’s even harder than doing 10 quick ones!
Immune Boost: Lymphatic Massage
Another helpful practice is lymphatic massage. You can do this by hand or with a tool like a body brush. This gentle form of self-massage helps to encourage circulation and lymph drainage throughout the body, which supports & strengthens the immune system, revitalizes sluggish energy, relieves pain, and can even lighten symptoms of depression. (Psst.. try accompanying your lymphatic massage with our massage oil for a deeply therapeutic experience!)
Winter CBD Support With Jimbo & Jules
Nature has given us the gift of powerful plants that have a profound impact on our bodies, and incorporating these natural remedies into your daily routine can help bolster your wellness in myriad ways. Our Bee Easy blend is formulated with ingredients to help instill a sense of calm amidst overwhelming stress or anxiety. Our Full Spectrum CBD Oil, crafted from organic Colorado hemp, encourages sustained mind and body wellness.
There are endless ways you can help your body replenish this winter. Just practice listening, and giving your body what it needs. Maybe your body wants biweekly baths, essential oil steams, massages, deep stretches, or an extra couple hours of sleep. Practice giving your body these things that you may normally consider frivolous or unnecessary. Remember, if you want to realize your full potential this year, you must first take the time to replenish your energy.
For the Bees
As you take the time to manifest and plan for the future, consider planning a garden for the spring! Even a space as tiny as a garden box on a window can be beneficial for the bees, with careful planning. Research native gardening and why it matters so, so much.
When spring comes, you’ll have a lot you want to do. Having a solid garden plan ahead of time will help you avoid pushing the actual gardening to the back burner until it’s too late. It’ll also ensure you get the most bee-benefit for your buck! If you need help dreaming up a native oasis for your space, Jimbo & I are always happy to help.
Last summer, we had some big garden plans in the works for a wellness center. I mean, really big - the biggest garden we’ve designed by far. Unfortunately, the chaos of the pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt. This winter, we’re regrouping, revising, and recalculating so that we can kick it back into gear come spring!
Sound familiar? It’s safe to say we all had something derailed by covid. Instead of sinking into loss and disappointment, take these next couple of months to revisit your plans. Even if the ship has sailed, maybe there’s a new plan hiding beneath the surface, waiting for you to find it and feed it.
This winter may seem like just another hurdle in a long, painful race that never seems to end. But I truly believe it’s just the opposite. It’s a rare and beautiful chance to reconnect to our roots, to live in harmony with the seasons in a way that “normal” life isn’t likely to allow. It’s time we take this opportunity by the hand and take the first steps into the still, quiet darkness. It’s time we give ourselves time - time to replenish, to restore, and to prepare for brighter days ahead.
Wishing you warmth, wellness, & rest,