In the depth of winter I finally learned that there within me lay an invincible summer.
This time of year offers such opportunity for rest and solitude. The days are shorter. The nights are longer. The cold weather keeps us indoors. We pile on the layers. We cozy up. We snuggle in. And there is a natural desire to retreat, to get comfy and to seek peace.
And yet, as we know, the beginning of winter also parallels with one of the busiest holiday seasons. So many of us miss the opportunity to take full advantage of the solitude that winter can bring as we get caught up in the hustle, bustle and craziness of the shopping, the crafting, the activities, the parties and the overall consuming pace.
As a culture, we have grown accustomed to honoring the day. Everything we do is so external. From the time we wake up to the moment our head hits the pillow, our daily responsibilities turn our focus to everything “out there.”
This year I am making a more conscious effort to fully enjoy the gifts of winter. And one way I’m doing that is by taking more time to honor the dark. Being more conscious of the time of day when the darkness comes can help shift our attention from the outside world to that quiet place that lives within.
One simple practice in honoring the earlier nights of winter is to light candles when the sun starts to go down. The invention of electricity has allowed us to stay up and work way into the night, and this really throws off our natural rhythm. Just the simple act of lighting the home with candles and turning the lights down or off can have a very soothing, calming effect on your body and soul.
I know this practice is so counterintuitive to how we operate. It gets dark, we turn on the lights. We turn off the lights and turn on the TV. And we never give ourselves the chance to fully release, to surrender, to restore…
Simple Ritual to Honor the Night
Try lighting some candles more often this winter. Try turning off the lights. See what happens when you shut down the electrical devices after the sun goes down. If your family is willing to give it a try, I suggest doing this for 2-3 nights in a row. It will take time and you may feel very restless at first, but if you stick with it watch as your mind begins to quiet, feel the muscles in your body begin to release, and notice how your overall sense of well-being is a little more in rhythm. I bet you will even be surprised at how this simple practice opens up your creativity.
The slower pace of winter and the need to cozy up and snuggle in allows you the opportunity to reconnect to your heart center, the place where your intuition resides. The practice of paying tribute to the night by lighting candles is symbolic of shining light on the dark places we rarely let ourselves go to. When you practice going more inward and begin embracing the gifts of winter, you will feel your heart expand as you deeply connect to a more peaceful you. And you may even be surprised about what you discover inside.
Shannon Kinney-Duh is a holistic life-coach, yoga teacher and mama to two young boys. When she’s not building snowmen or making snow angels, Shannon writes a blog and creates e-courses like Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery and her newest one coming soon, Mothering with heART. Stop by for a visit!