5 easy tips to make like the Winter season and allow yourself rest right now

Learn simple tips for moving mindfully through Late Winter seasonal junction

5 easy tips to make like the winter season and allow yourself rest right now

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According to Ayurveda, our most vulnerable times of year are during seasonal junctions, or the fortnight between two seasons. And the late winter rhythm is rest. Learn simple tips for moving mindfully and healthfully through the late winter seasonal junction (Jan. 9 – 23). Rest to reconnect with the natural rhythms of the season and yourself.

As you welcome in a new year (and after the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual trials of 2020), you may be excited to hit the ground in a full run toward any goals you’ve set or resolutions you’ve made. But not so fast, according to Ayurveda, a time-tested science of long life originating in India more than 5,000 years ago. The late winter rhythm is rest. So, instead, the Ayurvedic approach is to make like the season does and rest.

Make like the season does and rest.

Whether you’re in a climate that has snow and cold temps during winter, or in a climate that feels more like Springtime this time of year, stopping to take note of the changing of the seasons is a simple and nourishing way we can reconnect with the larger cycles and rhythms of life.

Late winter season

Late winter is one of six seasons recognized in Ayurveda. In the Northern Hemisphere, late winter runs from January 15 through March 15 and is usually characterized by the coldest, darkest, and sometimes most difficult times of the year.

There may be more rain or snow where you are during late winter. The temps drop further as the nights cool down and the daytime sunshine doesn’t quite warm them all the way back up again. The winds pick up. The air is drier. You may want to throw on a jacket, a scarf or hat, or light up a warm fire at night while having a warm drink.

Rest during Late Winter seasonal junction | mitten covered hands holding a warm drink
Photo by Alex on Unsplash

You’ll notice during late winter that things get quieter — gardens may lie fallow having been cut back after the Autumn and early winter harvests, the sound of birds quiets down a bit as some leave for warmer climates.

It is said that if one takes good care during these seasonal junctions, then they’ll have good health over the coming season.

And, just as the cooler nights and days call animals and humans inside to the cave, the den or by the fire. The season calls us all back home. Back inside. Back to ourselves.

The late winter seasonal junction

The seasonal junction is the fortnight, or 2-week period, between the change of two seasons. So, the late winter seasonal junction falls on January 9 – 23, overlapping early winter, which ran from November 15 – January 15 and late winter running from January 15 – March 15.

These seasonal junctions are a key time where we can find ourselves vulnerable as the season shifts and changes around us.

In Ayurveda, these seasonal junctions are a key time where we can find ourselves vulnerable as the season shifts and changes around us. It is said that if one takes good care during these seasonal junctions, then they’ll have good health over the coming season.

The late winter rhythm is rest

And like the seasons outside, rest (or relaxation, completion) is also the final phase of a full cycle in Hakomi’s Sensitivity Cycle that I talk more about in 3 signs your mind needs rest. The Sensitivity Cycle is a four-stage cycle of human experience the founder of the Hakomi method, Ron Kurtz, conceptualized in order to provide “a theoretical map of optimal life functioning emphasizing the need for sensitivity to one’s internal experience in relation to four essential stages.”

The Sensitivity Cycle Hakomi Method Stages of Experience

INFOGRAPHIC: The Sensitivity Cycle | Stages of Experience | Hakomi Method

The four stages create a cycle that Kurtz terms The Sensitivity Cycle, “which suggests that for a satisfying life an individual needs to:

  1. (Awareness / Clarity) be aware of, or sensitive to, one’s own essential situations and needs,
  2. (Effective Action) take appropriate action based on this clarity,
  3. (Satisfaction) experience satisfaction as a result of successful action, and
  4. (Healthy Rest / Relaxation or Completion) be able to rest and regenerate in order to become aware and clear about what is needed next (start over at Step 1).”

But, “when sensitivity is impeded via a barrier, the loop is either stalled or becomes a shallow or unsatisfying journey,” describes Kurtz in his 1990 book on Hakomi Method. “The sensitivity cycle is a process and barriers are its interruptions.” Kurtz describes a barrier as a habitual way we block increases to sensitivity in each stage of the cycle.

So, how can you take good care moving into the late winter season, and the resting stage of The Sensitivity Cycle?

In all the ways you can: rest. Since the late winter rhythm is rest, make the natural world outside mirror your world inside by using your nos, turning inward, quieting down and resting.

1. Slow down

Rest during Late Winter seasonal junction | mitten covered hands holding a warm drink
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The holidays are over. We’ve started a new year. It’s the perfect time to set a new tone of slowing down rather than speeding up. This life is, after all, a marathon, not a sprint.

Slow down your morning routine and really simplify where possible. Ask yourself what gets in the way of you taking it slow, and remove that thing. Slow down the way you eat. Practice chewing your food mindfully 30 times before swallowing a bite. Slow down your speech and maybe listen a little more. Take note of each new thing you learn about those you thought you knew! Slow down the music you listen to. Make sounds around you soft and easy.

Slow down your schedule and make room for space and quiet. And, at the end of the day give yourself extra time to ease into bed by reading an hour before bedtime, turning off all the lights and turning on the soft glow of a salt lamp, smell some soft and relaxing smells, like vetiver or lavender, maybe in a salt bath or in a bedside oil diffuser. Then, get to bed by 10 p.m. at the latest. Even 9 p.m. if you’re feeling especially s-l-o-w-w-w …

2. Make time to reflect

Rest during Late Winter seasonal junction | woman sitting on a log in the forest journaling
Photo by Doug Robichaud on Unsplash

Moving in sync with the late winter rhythm of rest, find a quiet space in your home or outside in nature to reflect on the past year, the past decade. Grab a journal and an easy-writing pen, or hit the audio recorder on your smartphone and start reflecting: where are you at in this moment? Where are your thoughts? Any emotions there with you? What’s your body feeling like? What’s important to you? What isn’t working for you anymore?

One of the most impactful reflections I’ve done over the past year has been to write down this sentence in your journal:

{Fill in the blank} is …

Then free-form write whatever words come up to complete that sentence. No thinking too hard or long about what comes up, just write it down. For example, “Money is …” or “My work is …” or “My relationship is …”

This reflective exercise can help us understand how we are in relationship to these particular areas of our life. I promise you, it will be eye-opening.

3. Let go of what’s not serving you

And whatever isn’t working for you anymore… get curious about why. Then, make a decision for yourself to let go of it. Late winter’s rhythm of rest also means resting your mind and awareness by letting go of the unnecessary.

Letting go means no longer allowing it to take up our attention, our headspace or impact our emotions. How can we change the way we look at what’s not serving us so we may free up that attention, headspace and emotional energy for ourselves?

While letting go can feel much easier said than done, it’s important to understand that letting go is a practice, or sadhana. Something you keep experimenting with on a daily basis and observe how it changes over time.

The simplest way to practice letting go is to pay attention to your own breathe. Our breathe is a constant model of receiving, or allowing oxygen in, and then letting it go.

The simplest way to begin practicing letting go and move in rhythm with the late winter is to close your eyes and pay attention to your own breathing. Our breath is a constant model of receiving, or allowing oxygen in, and then letting it go. Notice: do you let in more than you exhale? Is there a difference in length between your in-breath and your exhale (you can count them both)? What is the quality of your exhale? Is it enjoyable? Brief? Does it make a sound? What does this information mean to you?

Try this video meditation for letting go from The Mindful Movement that starts with the breath and then leads you into a full-body practice of letting go. Now you’re breathe will be in alignment with the late winter rhythm of rest. Ahhh…

4. Use your nos

While we’re letting things go, we’ll need to use our nos. If it doesn’t feel restful, if it doesn’t feel rejuvenating, if it doesn’t nourish us, but only leaves us feeling “taken” then use your nos to keep letting it go and making space for what does nourish.

Block off your work calendar to give yourself space throughout the day for reflection and comfort. Then use your nos to set and keep these restful boundaries throughout your workday.

5. Do what’s relaxing and replenishing

Rest during Late Winter seasonal junction | person reading under a blanket
Photo by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

How do you relax? But, more importantly, how do you relax and replenish yourself? While activities like drinking or drug use can feel relaxing, they don’t serve to replenish our systems after their effects have worn off.

Replace habits that only relax you in the short-term for those that actually replenish you over the long-term. Try adaptogenic tonics with or instead of caffeine. Adaptogens are plants and fungus, roots or herbs known for their ability to help us adapt to stressors. Adaptogens have different jobs: some increase stamina in the body, while others improve mental focus and clarity or support endocrine or reproductive system balance. Add adaptogens like ashwagandha (stamina), maca (energy, endocrine and reproductive support), astragalus root (immune system support), shatavari (nourishing, grounding, tissue and hormonal support), or brahmi gotu kola (mental focus and clarity; best with green drinks) to your favorite warm drinks in the morning, afternoon or evening.

In an Ayurvedic approach to replenishment, food is medicine. So, make your own medicine for the season.

In an Ayurvedic approach to replenishment, food is medicine. So, make your own medicine for the season. Incorporate seasonal, roasted spice mixes, called masalas and mixtures of powdered herbs and or minerals, called churnas into your daily routine.

  • Try this late winter masala from my teacher at Wise Earth School of Ayurveda. Once made put it in a spice jar and simply sprinkle it onto eggs, oats, grains, or saute it in some oil with veggies. Or, use it to season a soup or a red lentil or moong dahl.
  • Try these two simple churnas to incorporate for late winter seasonal junction:
    • Trikatu churna – helps break up congestion, increase our agni, or inner digestive fire so we can digest all that we’re reflecting on mentally, emotionally and physically in the food we eat. Take these before meals up to 3 times per day.
    • Triphala churna – helps cleanse the GI tract and colon so we’re passing the digested and assimilated mental, emotional or physical food easily through our bodies and letting what no longer serves us go through the descending colon. Take 1/2 tsp of triphala soaked in a small cup of hot water about an hour before bedtime every night.

Take your vinyasa or flow yoga routine and turn it down a few notches. Try yin yoga or restorative yoga practices on YouTube instead. Find a live-streamed yin or restorative yoga class online and restore yourself the company of a community. I like these streaming restorative classes in Austin, Texas:

Now’s the time to even slow down your meditation practice. Do what’s enjoyable and restful. Try Yoga Nidra or iRest Yoga Nidra over the late winter season to turn your meditations into deeply nourishing spaces for rest and replenishment.

Want to practice rest and rhythmic realignment?

Curious to work with someone who can help you explore how you can feel more grounded, connected and purposeful by simply connecting with life’s natural rhythms? Schedule time for a Consultation or a ReConnection™ session with me.

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Writer, Sr. Technical Program Manager, Sadhana Consultant and Inner Realm Guide at Conscious Content
Carolyn (Koa) Elder is a published writer and Senior technical program manager who’s been writing and consulting for more than a decade with startups, nonprofits and conscious businesses, digital agencies, and fortune 50s to 500s in the Top 50 list.

Beginning in 2011, she invested more deeply in her own mindfulness exploration and education as a Sahaja yoga/meditation guide and two-time apprentice of spiritual teacher and humanitarian, Vanessa Stone. Carolyn is an Ayurvedic Sadhana Consultant, having completed training in 2018 under her teacher, Maya Tiwari. Maya served for two decades as a Vedic monk belonging to India’s prestigious Veda Vyasa lineage and is the founder of Wise Earth School of Ayurveda.

Carolyn is currently immersed in her practicum after graduating from a two-year comprehensive Hakomi Mindfulness-Centered Somatic Psychotherapy practitioner training through Hakomi Institute Southwest.

Founder of Conscious Content, a mindfulness movement for business that serves the greater collective good, her intention is to bring ancient mindfulness technology first to individuals, and then their teams and organizations to connect them more authentically with themselves, one another, and their tribe.

Conscious Content’s guiding inquiry is: what would business look like if work became our sadhana—our personal growth practice?

Her chosen name, Koa, is of Hawaiian origin and means fearless and courageous.

Her given surname, Elder, is of Scottish origin and signifies one who is wiser, older and quite possibly born near the Elderberry tree.
Carolyn Elder

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2 years ago

[…] way you’ve found to deal with this feeling of always being on and never having a chance to slow down and rest is to just push through. Just one. More. Thing. To […]

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