In a beautiful way, winter is the best time of the year to learn how productive inner silence can be, on a certain level it’s a time of rest, peace, inner focus, stillness, and reflection. Follow its rhythm as a path to deepening your own life experience. Ali Smith puts it beautifully: “That’s what winter is- an exercise in remembering how to still yourself then how to come pliantly back to life again.”
This is a season where the cold can increase Vata dosha in everyone and make your body vulnerable to disorders due to Vata imbalance, particularly colds and flu. In practical terms this means favoring warmer, heartier, nourishing foods in winter.
A time for planning and visualizing the goals for the year ahead
For many of us, it’s a period of productivity that offsets the indulgence of the holidays. This is when people are busy fulfilling their New Year’s resolutions, getting fit, and gearing up for what’s next. But contrary to what we might think, winter is the perfect time for a “detox.” We tend to fill up a lot over the holiday season: with food, outings, gifts, celebrations, and even new goals. But winter is the season that represents the dark, cold, slow, internal Yin energy of traditional Chinese medicine. It’s the exact opposite of the Yang summer, whose energy is light, hot, quick, and expansive—perfect for lots of activity and movement.
Connecting with nature and the environment, as well as paying attention to what our bodies really need, has tremendous benefits for our mind-body-spirit health. We might have plans for ourselves that are more aligned with our productivity-obsessed society, but the truth is, connecting with nature and the environment, as well as paying attention to what our bodies really need, has tremendous benefits for our mind-body-spirit health.
This season, consider putting your New Year’s resolutions on hold for a while. By going through a full mind-body-spirit detox, you’ll come out on the other side more relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to connect with the world. Here are a few pointers below:
- Feed your body – Instead of going on a “diet,” eat in a way that makes you feel strong, alive, and connected to yourself. Often, this means cutting out junk and processed foods, drinking more water and nourishing herbal teas, increasing your consumption of fresh food, and eating seasonally in accordance with what’s available in your area. Also, be sure to move your body; this is a time of year when it’s easy to become sluggish, so make sure you take nature walks, do some gentle movement, or practice qigong/restorative yoga. Avoid late nights and go to sleep when you feel tired, and make sure you’re giving yourself the luxury of plenty of sleep; if you can steal short naps during the day, even better!
- Nurture your mind – It’s natural to be occupied with all the new projects, ideas, and to-dos on our ever-growing lists that undoubtedly get bigger this time of the year, but the idea is to nurture your mind with the things that soothe rather than overwhelm. Take time to journal and become mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Listen to podcasts or read books that spark inner contemplation. Lessen the burden of emotional and physical clutter (by reducing social commitments or the people you follow on social media, cleaning out your wardrobe and getting rid of items you no longer need, taking a digital detox, and spending less time on gadgets.
- Embrace your spiritual side – It’s imperative to connect with yourself in ways that permit you to move beyond the daily toil. This might include meditating and simply remembering to breathe, or allowing yourself intentional space for deep emotions like grief and sorrow. Whatever the case, do everything possible to increase your wellbeing and a sense of positivity and peace in your life.
Notice how incorporating some of these suggestions into your life makes you feel. Maintaining your winter detox is all about figuring out what habits are required in order to feel the wholeness. This New Year, give yourself the gift of going inward and connecting with what matters most.