A tricky thing about winter

Five Element acupuncturists learn that it is critical to the health of humans for us to be aware of the seasons – what they show up like, and how that resonates in people. From the minute I learned about this, I was fascinated, and I’ve been watching and learning ever since.

You can find lots of information on the net on this topic (and I can give you more, if you like), but you can do your own observing and correlating. Think of some descriptors of the season: cold, often dreary, sometimes blindingly beautiful (I’m thinking those Canadian cold front blue skies), frozen water (aka snow and ice), grindingly never-ending (that would be about March in my part of the world), challenging to movement… I’m sure you can add to the list.

Now think about how that shows up in people. We get cold, we don’t want to leave the house, being active uses more energy, we walk hunched up, we want to sit still and bundled up, preferably in front of a fire. Soups and teas taste really good – nourishing and warm. Maybe we feel stiff, find it harder to move.

Some of us get depressed this time of year, not liking gray days and lessened contact with others. And that’s the tricky part of winter.

Because there’s less light (although at this point it’s coming back, thank all that you consider holy) and we’re less active than in the summer, it’s common to find ourselves falling somewhere on the spectrum of deeply introspective to sad to depressed. We can feel constrained, perhaps even blocked in our movement in life.

Ugh, you say? That’s bad, right? Maybe… and maybe not.

If we had no winter, we would have no new growth in the spring. All winter, the cold compresses and constrains the seed. This compression builds the power that is latent there, so that when spring (finally) arrives, new growth will explode up to meet the sun.

So you could think of this time of year as a chance to do a lot of nurturing of your inner power. I get an image of hands inside the body, gathering Qi into a ball, packing it down, making it denser (like a snowball!). After a while, that ball begins to hum and vibrate, maybe glow a little, as it starts generating its own power. I like that image, and make it part of my winter meditation.

And you can sit with this opportunity to be introspective, to go deep and reflect on just about anything, because I can promise you with all my heart and soul, spring will come, and that seed inside yourself will have chance to explode and grow as wildly and beautifully as possible.

Amen to that.