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Honoring the shift in the season

Right now, we are experiencing the shortest days of the year. This is typically accompanied by darkness, cold and even heaviness. We, as animals, are affected by these energies whether we consciously realize that or not. There is a tendency to want to “hibernate” – to sleep more, spend more time indoors, expend less energy. This is a wonderful way to honor the winter season.

Winter is a time of going within – to reflect and be with oneself. To slow down the busyness and high level of productivity we enjoy in other parts of the year. In our modern culture, we don’t tend to shift our behaviors seasonally. However, if we take our cues from the animals and plants in the natural world, we might remember that there is a great lesson here – to save our energy, lay “fallow” and allow ourselves to regenerate from the roots up. We can be more discerning about what we engage in and how much energy we’re expending. We can pay tribute to the invitation to rest more and allow this time of rejuvenation.

And, we don’t want to be pulled too far off-center in our honoring of the colder, darker months. In this way, we want to balance that energy by inviting more light (and Lightness!), warmth and joy into our daily lives. Many of the rituals and traditions of this season involve light – hanging Christmas lights, using more candles and seasonal decorations are all ways that humans have brightened their spaces during the winter for millenniums. We bring evergreen trees and garlands and mistletoe into our homes as reminders of the undeniable life that will burst forth again in spring.

We make warming drinks (mulled cider, eggnog, etc.) to stave off the cold from the inside out.

Adding warming spices to food and drink can be a simple way to balance the chill of the season. Moving away from foods that are inherently cold, like salads or smoothies, can be helpful. Or, you can amend those items to offset their cooling nature. Like adding roasted vegetables to a salad or removing frozen fruit from smoothies and adding some cinnamon instead. Eating more warm, moist foods can counter the cold, dry nature of our climate. Think soups, stews and oatmeal instead of cereal or crackers.

Consider the environments you spend the most time in – for most of us, that’s home and work. Could you bring in some flowers or evergreen items to grace the table where you eat? Is there a place for candles on the table or in the office? What colors might make you feel more warm and cozy to wear or adorn your setting?

Finally, the most important ingredient is joy. During this time of year, many of us can feel burdened or overwhelmed. Use that as a cue to check in and see where you are overextended. Where are the places you could slow down, cut back or say no? What activities or gestures could you choose that would create more playfulness and fun?

Having strong energies is part of the cycle of each season. How will you revere the summons to pause while balancing that with more light and lightness?

Nicola Dehlinger is a naturopathic doctor at Pura Vida Natural Healthcare in Durango. She can be reached at 426-1684 or www.puravidahealthcare.com.