Many years ago when I was in college, I studied botany. The science of plants. One of the many reasons was that I was fascinated by trees. Looking at a tree on a cellular level was eye-poppingly amazing to me. What struck me the most was that in the depths of the Maine winter the tree was not dead, far from it, but was carrying out activities essential for its life and survival. Stripped of leaves, seemingly dormant and “blowing in the wind”, there was critical recovery activity occurring that allowed the tree to thrive later in the warmth of summer.
You can get the same message when you shift your focus to the animal world. Many of our favorite little creatures hibernate in the cold months. They tuck themselves away for rest and recovery. I have a friend who has done a form of hibernation for several years. Come winter, Kate steps back from her life – stops socializing and spends her extra time at home in contemplation and rest. By the time spring appears she has insights and plans that spur her on through the rest of the year.
Although I am not suggesting that you hibernate like Kate, I do think this is the time of the year that you could turn your attention to slowing down in some way. In many parts of the world, nature is giving you a clear message about what works right now in life. I hope you will take heed. (Sorry southern hemisphere friends, please save this issue for July!)
It is mid-January and temperatures are predicted to soar into the upper 60s to low 70s this coming week. This is so atypical for here in the mountains of Western North Carolina! We are more used to snuggling down, curling up, and staying close to the fire. After all, we need to rest up after all the holiday frenzy.
Just as all of nature calms down and sleeps after the dance of autumn, you may need to rest and relax as this New Year begins.
A new year suggests a clean slate, a new beginning, another chance at accomplishing your goals. Perhaps this year you might take some time to slow down to a winter’s pace to consider what this year can hold for you.
As technology has advanced its speed and reach, we have become caught up in that incessant speed on a daily basis. It might seem impossible to slow down your pace, but it truly is the only way to slow down the world: by starting at home. “Slow as molasses in January”; there is some comfort in that possibility.
Western culture expects you to be “on” all the time and this is increasingly true throughout all the cultures of the world . If you’re not busy, you are “wasting time, burning daylight”. But just as our earth cannot thrive with only sunshine, you can’t thrive without rest and relaxation. You must have time for “being” instead of “doing”. Winter is the perfect time for this.
And the New Year is the perfect time for some deep consideration of who you are and what you desire. Sure, there is always that “extra 20 pounds” that you’d like to shed, but what about going deeper? What would releasing that extra weight really mean to you?
By slowing down and retreating deep within, you can also raise your awareness of your own dreams and hopes. Everyone has them, and perhaps it’s time to dust yours off. It is very easy to put those dreams on the back burner for “someday”, but what about really examining them, feeling into them, and incorporating baby steps towards them this winter? Just as female bears hibernate in the cave, gestating and incubating their young until they emerge into the world in the spring, you can take some time to conceive and nurture your own dreams and hopes in the depth of winter.
There are some important aspects to consider as you cocoon and grow your wings. First, you will need to continue any professional work you do. Very few people have the luxury of withdrawing from real life for three months at a time. This is a time for “both/and” not “either/or”.
Perhaps, though, you can limit your activities that would distract you from inner focus for the winter. Enlist support from family and friends to take on an extra task to give you some down time. And consider this: your setting an example of how important it is to take care of yourself and nurture your dreams is a powerful one from which others can learn and benefit as well.
Take time to explore your deep hopes and dreams. If you don’t know what they are, how can you work towards accomplishing them? This is important “me” time, and everyone deserves to have that time. All dreams become real in phases: creation, incubation and birthing. Deeply consider how each of these phases will affect you. Emotions are powerful motivators, and tuning in to how you will feel as you grow into this new way of being can help you stay the course.
Planning is really needed to adopt this winter pace. How are you going to slow down and reduce your activities? How are you going to give yourself the gift of time and space to quietly consider your needs and desires? How are you going to plod your baby steps towards accomplishment? How are you going to maintain your focus on rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation over the coming months?
Winter can be a difficult time for those who are adversely affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a depression stimulated by less sunlight and less time outside. So be sure to keep this in mind and don’t let SAD creep into your purposeful slowing down. Intentionally taking time to connect with nature – taking a walk outside, participating in winter sports, etc. – can keep your spirits up as well as clear your mind.
For many, physically writing your desires and motivations will help support success in accomplishing your intentions. Studies have repeatedly shown that those who write down their goals have an exponentially higher success rate than those who don’t. It is such a simple act, why not add this strategy to your collection of support tools? Continue adding to your initial thoughts with updates during the winter months. This quiet attention, too, will encourage success.
And let’s face it, we all need more rest and relaxation! Even if you don’t include the aspect of deep consideration of your dreams, intentionally slowing down and resting (with a jigsaw puzzle, a good book, or a nap) offers its own medicine.
So, take some time for yourself this winter. Give up on the frenzy for a while. Remember the turtle who won the race by going at its own pace, slow and steady.
What can you do to shift yourself into a slower mode over the next month?
How would you like to use your “rest and recovery” times?
What small item can you make happen today to move in the direction of being instead of doing?
The Truth about Morning~From The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
There is a vastness that quiets the soul. But sometimes we are so squarely in the midst of life’s forces that we can’t see what we’re a part of.
The truth about morning is that it is the small light of the beginning breaking through, again and again. It is a wisdom so large and clear, one which carries us through our loves so quietly and completely that we seldom see it.
Day after day, we are covered with the dust and grit of what we go through. It tends to weigh us down, and then we think and scheme and problem solve. Then we worry if it will all really work, and if it is the right thing to do. It all makes us dark and cluttered.
But despite our stubbornness of concern, we tire and must turn what has happened over to the hammock of the night. This is a good thing. For no matter how unfinished we seem, the letting go into sleep is nothing short of a quiet miracle.
This letting go into sleep is an innate, reflexive form of meditation, no different than a fly rubbing its face or a doe licking its fawn. Sooner or later, without discipline or devotion, despite our resolutions and mistakes, we each must sleep. We must surrender to the quieting of all intent and regret, so that the small light of the beginning can rise in us, again and again.
There is no escaping this profound simplicity: what happens covers us like dirt. It covers our hearts and minds, till, at the shore we call exhaustion, we slip into the waters of sleep in a daily sort of baptism, so we can begin again.
So whenever you feel urgent or overwhelmed, whenever you feel pressed to figure things out or to rethink the unthinkable…rest…so that the endless beginning – which some call the voice of God – might break through what has happened. And you will wake feeling like dawn.
INDIVIDUAL COACHING BY PHONE
Want to stop that feeling that life is passing you by?
Would you like to able to experience your life as an exciting series of adventures?
Would you like to feel more joy and achieve more success?
That is what I help my clients develop in their own lives. Working with a coach helps you overcome the challenges that can keep you from a successful life. Coaching gives you a companion on the journey; someone with whom to discuss events as they unfold and to help you move toward joy in the adventure. Developing clear goals, focusing intently and staying committed become possible.
If you aren’t sure and would like to explore whether coaching is right for you, please send an email to Janet@lifeadventurecoaching.com or call me at 828-691-4655 for a complimentary consultation.