Turning Inward - November 12, 2014
The gardens are put to bed
Outdoor furniture put away
Crockpot and baking recipes ready to go
Snow shovel and ice melt ready
Winter clothes swapped for fall clothes
Coats, hats, boots, gloves, and scarves pulled out of storage
Charlie not willing to go outside unless necessary
Yep. These are my signs that winter weather has arrived in the Black Hills. We have had a beautiful fall season, but now Mother Nature has sent us substantial snow and frigid cold temperatures. It is time to turn inward; quiet our bodies and minds; hibernate and conserve.
Downtime is hugely underrated in our society. Most people I meet complain about being tired, exhausted, beat, wiped out, pooped, or out of gas. We are a society of overachievers, workaholics, and perfectionists who define ourselves by what we do and measure our success by what we accomplish during the day — the more check marks on the “to do” list the better. But at what expense is this to our health, sanity, and connection to authentic priorities?
As the natural inclination of our body is telling us to slow down during the winter months, it seems that we get busier (especially with the holiday rush). And we ignore the body’s signals (colds, flu, fatigue, injuries, and other illnesses) to slow down. One more hint that it is time to slow down is when your mind races as you are trying to sleep. Your brain needs time to process the day and plan for tomorrow. It can only do that when you are quiet, so guess what? Your precious, necessary, and essential sleep is significantly disrupted - leaving you even more exhausted and less capable of managing stress.
When the weather turns cold, Charlie quiets down and settles in for a winter’s rest. We still go hiking when it is warm enough, but he is not as pushy about hiking during the winter months. Can we take a cue from one who is so happy? I get it that we all have busy lives. But what about enjoying the occasional pajama day to allow your mind to unwind, your body to rest, and time to be? What would it be like to be quiet for 20 minutes every day to give your mind and body a break from the hectic and chaotic world? I love it when my household is quiet - no television, no radio, no chattering - just calm. I like to sit back with my eyes closed for 20 minutes (anytime during the day) and let my mind free flow (I have even created a quiet time for myself at work). During these quiet moments, I sometimes fall asleep, other times I get the best “Aha” moments, but mostly I gain clarity and an increased ability to stay present in my day.
Getting quiet does not require a lot and creating the time for it is easy when you set the intention to do so. The rest is breathing and letting the mind wander. Don’t try to control your thoughts. If checklists keep coming up in your mind, gently remind yourself that quiet time is first and the list is second. If you don’t like your thoughts, gently push them away and tell them you will give them attention some other time (to be determined by you). If you don’t like sitting still, take a walk in a beautiful garden, or somewhere that is relaxing to you. Quiet time is about downtime for your mind and body. It is a pleasant mini-vacation from the world. Whatever works for you is just fine.
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