Winter months can be dark, cold, and long, and there are practices that can support us through these months, keeping us in good balance energetically and mentally. When we are in balance we’re happy and we feel contented. Winter’s energy can tend to make us more inward than in the summer. This going-inside season is a quieter time and can be one of the most wonderful and delicious times of the year when we know how to savor the sweet bliss of our inner silence and peace. This quiet time can, however, feel unfamiliar and even unpleasant. In the stillness of winter, old latent agitations can arise from the memory. Year after year these feeling can get associated with wintertime and then winter doesn’t seem like a pleasant, delightful time of stillness and peace, but rather becomes heavy with depression.
Traditionally, we have celebrations in winter to lighten our spirits and bring light to the dark times. We can get so excited about combating the winter, and celebrating to make ourselves happy, that these celebrations become anxious times. Now we are in a pattern of swinging from depression to anxiety throughout the winter, trying to combat the blues by getting hyped up, then crashing from the hype and falling again into sadness.
It’s possible to get our balance back through the winter by adopting a practice of meditation. Meditation makes the peaceful, quiet space of stillness a familiar and enjoyable feeling. It takes time for an imbalanced nervous system to become accustomed to being in balance, to feeling blissful. If we take a little time each day to simply sit and be at ease in ourselves, this will become more and more a natural feeling. Meditation is a training program to remind our nervous system how to feel balanced and steady, easy yet strong, quiet and yet bright at the same time. Stillness does not mean dullness or lethargy. In the deep ease of stillness you connect with a space of potential and power. We feel the energy of life in our body, and the clear, expanse of awareness of our mind.
In the stillness of winter, we can rediscover the powerful space of inner stillness and train our mind and body to love touching this space every day. Winter then will not be a time of dull depression or anxious business. It will be a sacred time of self-communion and a retreat time, with every meditation session being our own private retreat. This will revitalize and make us healthier than ever. We’ll start to look forward to the long, dark winter months as a time of year when we get to be silent and still every day.
Set up a place where you can sit in peace everyday without being disturbed. Wrap yourself up in a warm shawl and settle in for a lovely sit. Enjoy being still and deeply at ease.
May peace and joy be with you.
Silent Night, Holy Night, All is Calm, All is Bright.
Padma is one of Canada's most respected teachers of meditation and yoga. She hosts three national television series on meditation and yoga - Living Yoga with Padma, Padma Yoga: the Elemental Series, and Modern Meditations. For a decade, Padma studied and meditated in the western Himalayas of India. She mastered original Sanskrit texts on meditation, philosophy and yoga and is authorized to teach Advanced Studies and Yoga by the International Meditation Institute of India.
For more from Padma go to www.padmayoga.ca