As the Earth’s axis tilts away from the sun the cold winds begin to blow in frigid air with a subdued energy of hibernation and takes us on an internal journey across slippery, snow capped slopes. Within still days and serene nights winter holds great potential. This potential often flies over people’s heads as our way of life buffers them from the natural turning in process that the ecosystem goes through to a greater degree than we have been ever before in human history. All living creatures that live in a seasonal climate adjust themselves to the winter season but mankind has taken this to the extreme. This has put humanity at a disadvantage since the slow and deliberate way one must navigate the winter terrain holds much knowledge if one lets their mind adopt that same mode of operating.
There is immense value in the act of slowing down. The beautiful details of life come into focus when we slow our roll even just a little bit. There is a concept of yoga that says while practicing we take time to rest between poses to give the body time to recuperate and build up strength, which it is unable to do when it is in a state of exertion. This idea of slowing down to rest and recover is what winter is all about. A time for restoration and preparation. If used wisely the time of winter will be equally as enjoyable and productive as the days of summer but the key is using those winter months wisely. While winter is a time to slow down cabin fever does not give one an excuse to waste away the winter months. On the contrary the work one does when they slow down is often harder than work requiring physical action. How much easier do people find it to go to the gym than to sit quietly for thirty minutes and focus on the underlying discourses of their mind? Neither of these is easy for people but most would find a trip to the gym easier than a thirty minute mindfulness meditation.
This internal work is tough and tedious but it needs to be done if one hopes to live a balanced life. All the things that come into our worlds have their source in mind so to let our minds fall out of shape will lead our worlds to fall out of shape. The reverse is that if we see our world in a shape we do not like then the first step to take towards shaping up our world is shaping up our mind. All that we perceive is a reflection from our mind so we need to keep our mental mirrors clean to get clear reflections. The deep scratches in the mirrors of our minds take time to buff out so taking time to slow down and tend to the deeper mental wounds that we all possess in one form or another is key to maintaining a habitable mental space. This slowing down is a natural process and so many people are suffering in our age because we have lost touch with our natural cycle of slowing down with the Earth.
All the beautiful details that get lost in the dry dust under the summer sun can be admired in the winter for all their splendor. The immense comfort that one gets from a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter’s evening is easily compared to the relief of cold lake water after walking across a sun baked beach in the summer. The coziness we feel on a dark winter morning warm under a big blanket rivals the relaxation of a nap in a grassy field on a golden summer’s eve. The trick to appreciating the beauty of the winter is slowing down. Taking slow spoonfuls of soup to notice the steam swirling into the cool air. Stay in your toasty bed and listen to the wind blowing across your window for a few minutes in the morning. Take your time.
Life truly is beautiful all year so take the time needed to find all the little gems hidden in winter. Don’t go through winter without stopping to look at snowflakes. You will regret it come spring.