Each year the coming of winter tends to hit me like a wall of bricks. Suddenly it’s dark so early. Suddenly it’s raining all the time. Suddenly I feel sluggish, unmotivated, depressed. My blogs go silent, my mind goes fuzzy, I just want to sleeeeep.
And you know what? That’s OK.
Winter is supposed to be slow.
Taoism is a lot about following the natural rhythm of things. And the natural rhythm of winter is to hibernate. Many species do it in various forms. Bears and many other animals either hibernate of go into other kinds of reduced metabolic activity. Plants have different growth cycles and usually slow down or stop during the winter.
Our culture has this always-on mentality.
You should blog consistently. You’ve got to do marketing constantly, keep your numbers up. Keep in touch with your customers. Keep up on the industry. Stay informed, be on top of your game.
Blah. That’s not what winter is about.
That’s fine for spring or summer. But in the fall or winter, the natural order of things doesn’t support that kind of go-go-go energy.
It’s normal to get sluggish. Let yourself have it.
Fall and winter are Yin months. They are about slowing down, reviewing the growth of the past year, grieving and letting go (Samhain, Day of the Dead, Yom Kippur), pondering and considering, letting all the new growth settle in and integrate into your system.
When we push ourselves to go against our bodies inclinations, we court depression.
I wonder how much of seasonal depression is actually our internal resistance to just letting ourselves be slower during the winter.
Slow is not necessarily depressed. But I notice that if my inner-critic is going to town about how slow I am being, then I will get depressed. If I feel like napping and going for a walk instead of working, and make myself work, or jackal myself about how I ought to be working, that is really not going to contribute to a happy state of mind.
Our culture doesn’t get slowness. It’s seriously over-Yangified. That means you’ve got to take matters into your own hands.
Affirm winter, embrace winter.
I’m giving myself full permission to move with the rhythm of winter. To go slow, “produce” less, spend more time with feelings of sadness, take my time, adjust to the true pace of the season. (i.e. not the crazy frenetic pace of the “Christmas season”, which is so NOT a season. The season is winter, and the pace is slooooow.
Winter is about reconnecting to something deep and eternal. That takes time.
Death and grieving remind us of the shortness and preciousness of life. Slowing down, we drop what is unimportant or inconsequential. We remember what really matters and reconnect to it. This takes time, presence, quiet. This is the gift of winter. Let yourself have it.