Walking in a winter wonderland or freezing cold in the Tesco queue?
Winter health for the stone age woman
Everything in our culture urges us to be more productive, more of the time. Even our relaxation is ‘activitized’ (I made that word up, but someone, somewhere is probably using it seriously). Instead of day dreaming or drifting or reading we rush to a spa day or go cart racing or a winter ‘activity’, all of which fuels the commercial agenda. However it ignores the fact that we are basically stone age beings lost in a modern age.
When we resist living in sync with our natural daily, monthly or seasonal rhythms it has a detrimental effect on us for example
- Shift workers are far more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
- Severe period pains can be greatly relieved by resting before and during menstruation.
For stone age people there was a time for activity and a time for rest, a time for going deep within and a time for running around being fabulously productive. Living in sync with the seasons is a natural way of supporting your health.
Winter, stone-age stylee is a time for withdrawing, keeping warm and keeping out the gloom with firelight and sparkly party shoes. Just as the earth lies fallow at this time, waiting, it also nourishes us to rest. This stillness is blown out of the water by our Christmas craziness; cue a whole heap of stressful rushing around. It’s a bit of a conflict, how can we satisfy our stone-age need for quiet in the midst of school fares and secret Santas?
My good friend and eminent acupuncturist Juliet Cox has some great advice;
“In Chinese medicine the emphasis is on adjusting your pace and activity with the change of the season. Winter is the time of greatest yin; colder, darker and more still. Therefore it’s a good time to engage in quieter, gentle activities; stay at home more and go to bed earlier. Warming casseroles and hot spiced drinks also help support our energy at this time and seeing our friends give us a social warmth and light.”
One of the ways I have been nourishing myself recently is by going to places that honour the seasons. I am lucky enough to be able to go to the Red Tent Retreats facilitated by Tamara Donn and Verity Peacock, the most recent one was focused on winter. Many of us had quite difficult feelings about being in the dark season; with our fears, our negativity, our frustrations. And hell, the cold! But the meditations and quiet creativity gave us a way in to explore our difficulties and receive the gifts this fallow time can give us. My ancestral stone age woman is soothed by all this and I know that reducing activity at this time of year, dreaming on my ideas and reflecting on things, will pay off when the light of the spring starts to show.
This is the poem that Verity read to introduce the subject of winter, it’s called ‘Winter’s Resurgence’
Winter has come upon us with her
majestic stillness and fierce storms
Blanketing us in her winter’s lair
Beckoning us to breath in rhythm
And it is here that I speak my prayer:
‘Take a part of me deep into your forested womb
Keep me there, giving me rest, away from worldly
desires and despairs
Cover me with your insight and love
Hold me like there is no where else to go, nothing
more to become
Heal me of my tired and disenchanted ways
Let me be still inside, by belly connected with yours
like the dormant snake of winter lying securely in you’
And when your mists begins to lift, may your
nurturing womb flow me out and birth me new.
K. McCauley A
Even if we can start by finding small piece of winter quiet, it can nourish our simple stone age souls and improve our winter health, I think my next step might be some serious soup, followed by something alcoholic and spicy. What’s yours?