Winter Nesting- Using the Winter's Darkness to Embrace and Love Your Whole-self

One of the only things that I am truly sure of is this; things change. 

Change can feel so many different ways: unnerving, unsettling, ungrounding, exciting, wanted...  In order to feel grounded and secure, as well as to embrace change, I have found myself turning to the natural, rhythmic changes that occur each and every day, week, month and year.  This helps me feel safe and more able to embrace all the unforeseen changes that occur throughout life.  

I pay attention to what the moon is doing on any given day and notice what my own moods do in response.  I notice the new seasons that each of my individual kiddos enter and try and meet them there.  I embrace nature's seasons.  As a mom, I am so aware of how important the seasons are to shaping the rhythm of my family.

So imagine my shock when a recent ah ha moment slapped me right in the face. 

It was out of a movie: bells ringing in my ears, flashes of recent thoughts and action all speeding through my brain in fast, fuzzy images, becoming so clear all at one and then bang,  I got it.....I am freaking nervous for the coming winter.  In fact I am out right resisting it.

 I am reading a new book and through an exercise where the reader is asked to write a timeline of memories where you enter into the "dark parts of yourself", I had a major realization!  For many years now I have descended into the darkness when the winter season comes.  Winter has rhythmically symbolized for me a time of great heartache, stuckness (that has to be a word and so I am sticking with) and what some may call seasonal depression.  Well NO WONDER I am feeling anxiety about the coming season!  I can already feel the pull into the darkness.  For the past 4 weeks I have sat with this; like literally sat with it, often staring at the ceiling, sometimes praying and writing trying to get at the heart of the season.  

What I realized is winter is dark.  I know, I know, big realization there, but stick with me on this. 

The literal darkness is our cue, it's our gift to slow and go within.  It is a time of self-reflection.  In years past I have been to busy and maybe even more than that I have been a bit scared to let that be the guide for the season. 

 The winter is asking our bodies, our souls to slow down! To sit with our own inner darkness and embrace and love ourselves, not just the great stuff but all of us!  

To love the impatience, the grumps, the imperfectly perfectionists and well to love all of us.  

My plan for the season is to embrace the dark, literally and figuratively.  To let the dark come in at night and after the children are asleep to simply sit more, write more, look at my whole self and focus on my practice of self love. To be with the darkness no matter how uncomfortable and to let love be the warmth of the season.  


Connecting through Rituals

What does it actually MEAN to create and live our everyday lives embracing and creating rituals?  Being intentional and creating rituals helps provide that thing that so many of us are lacking….connection!  Connection to ourselves, to others, to our surroundings and our Earth.  New research is being done around our health and what causes illness.  Studies are showing that what causes disharmony inside may have as much to do to with a lack of connection and loneliness as the food we eat and whether or not we exercise.  Connection is something that we all think we have at the end of our fingertips with our ability to use ever fast pace “connecting” technology, yet people increasingly report feeling more and more disconnected and lonely.  There is more anxiety, more fear, and more loneliness.  Engaging in rituals is a way to slow down, to be mindful about what we want to create, how we want to connect and then actually putting that into ACTION

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Rituals by definition are repetitive, behaviors that involve gestures, words, and objects and are most often performed in a sequence.  Rituals are one of the major practices that we share as a human race throughout time and history.  Rituals have been connecting people to each other, our natural world and ourselves for centuries; they bind us together. Rituals may be done individually as a family or as a larger community.  The hymns sung in Christianity, the meditative breath work in Buddhism, the chanting in Islam all illicit the same response in our brain.  We are all activating parts of our brain that intimacy, connection and spiritual growth spring from.

There is a reason why we are all naturally drawn to rituals around major changes in our lives.  Science has shown that engaging in rituals big and small help create a sense of peace and calmness in situations, especially those that are typically anxiety producing.  People who engage in rituals prior to going for a job interview report more success getting the job as their anxiety levels decreased.  On a biochemical level researchers and neurobiologists have found that rituals actually connect our brain to our memories, specifically our long-term memories.  Creating rituals help us order and connect with our experiences, especially those experiences that are life changing like birth and death.  Studies have shown that those people who process grief through a ritualistic behavior report less depression and greater peace than those that don’t.   Rituals help us create meaning and order in our lives.  On a personal level we use rituals all the time without much thought.   Morning and evening routines help us bookend our days. Children love their bedtime rituals to help them feel safe and secure at the end of their day. 

   We are hard wired to engage in rituals.  So why have we as a society gotten away from or reframed the rituals to have little to do with connection and meaning and more to do with accumulation and stuff?  How can we, YOU return to connection in your own personal life in the form of an intentional ritual?  What can you create for your family to connect through RITUAL?