One of our Slow Principles is about honouring natural rhythms and cycles. The winter season is part of our annual cycle that is more and more getting overlooked with the manic pace of modern life and our exalting of exhaustion as a badge of honour.
While us humans don’t literally hibernate, the principle is still valuable to consider. Winter is a time for going inward, nourishing ourselves, resting and rebooting so we can emerge in Spring revitalised for our next growth phase. This going inward is important for our physical body but also for our mental, emotional and spiritual health too.
Here are some ways you can go Slow this winter.
1. Consider your rest cycles.
Our ability to transform stress into something that helps us grow versus stress that is damaging is highly dependent on our ability to rest. This means more than sitting down; a hyperactive mind still puts you in stress mode too. What small things can you do daily and what deeper things can you do on longer cycles to give yourself rest? For example mindfulness daily and have a massage each month.
According to Brene Brown, people who live wholeheartedly actively cultivate rest and play. So make the most of winter and ease up! Learn how to actively trigger your relaxation response. Body scanning meditation is a good place to start.
2. Be Slow to your body.
Ever heard of an off-season? Don’t keep punishing your body in winter like you might in Summer. Eat wholesome, warming foods, consider a detox (Dry July perhaps) and focus on more nourishing forms of physical activity (I really like Yin Yoga).
3. Centre yourself.
Looking inward, centering and grounding yourself are so important for being a powerful presence. If you’ve read my blog before you would’ve heard me talk about the principle of ‘proximal stability before distal mobility’. Practice meditation and mindfulness daily.
4. Resolve to embrace solitude.
Solitude and silence allows you to unwind, engage in deeper thought, access creativity and intuition and hear your own voice above the noise of everyday life. If you do manage to carve out some time alone, resolve to embrace the challenge of it. Hearing your own mind is not easy to start with, but let the urge to distract yourself rise and fall and get stuck in with looking inward.
5. Gather your intention.
Once you are centred, form your intent. A clear intent is so important to stay focus and remain open to notice opportunities as they arrive. Intention is also compelling for others who may be able to help you. This goes hand in hand with point 8 – reflection and powerful questions are essential for refining your intentions.
Keep your intent fresh by setting up a supportive environment. I know quite a few people who are into incorporating personal ‘sacred spaces’ in their home. I have normally been a ‘write lists and have hundreds of pieces of scrap paper stuck the fridge’ kind of person but I have been inspired by my friends who cultivate beauty hand in hand with their intention so its definitely on my winter activity list!
6. Access intuition.
When you are relaxed and centred, you are more able to be present to your own internal conditions and tap into your intuition. A nice practice for accessing your intuition is flow writing – just start writing and don’t stop so it becomes a stream of consciousness.
7. Actively practice gratitude.
Gratitude leads to happiness and life satisfaction, a mindset of growth and abundance, enables you to feel joy (without spoiling it by worrying about what’s going to go wrong). One gratitude practice that has made a huge difference in my life is the popular ‘3 things’ activity. Every night before bed, write down 3 things you are grateful for that day. It is incredibly powerful in reframing how you see the world and what happens to you, plus encourages you to notice and appreciate the small things. At the end of the day, that is what matters.
8. Live your truth
From this centred and calm place, reflect and ask yourself some powerful questions to really hone in on what actions to take in the immediate future to allow yourself to live authentically. This is stuff life ‘What 3 or 4 important aspirations, areas of interest, or undeveloped talents would you like to place more focus on in your future journey?’ or ‘What are your most vital sources of energy? What do you love?’
Actually making the changes to live authentically takes courage to face the discomfort and fear that happens when you stop being who other people expect you to be and instead make choices aligned to your highest self. Centering practices and holding your intention give you a solid base from which to move and mindfulness is very useful tool for recognising an dissolving fear.
9. Say no.
Finally, practice saying no. Time to yourself doesn’t just happen. But saying no does become easier when you gently hold your intent for what you really want for your life. Sensing your boundaries and sticking to them is part of living your truth.