Them Dark February Days

Embrace your light. It’s always there, even in the darkness.

If you are like millions of people living in a more northern clime, you will most likely have sluggishness and low mood at some point during the darkest days of winter.
And if you are like many people during this time, working full time and immersed in many different projects, it feels impossible to catch up and think clearly. Remembering our inner light may feel very difficult.

Here are a few suggestions to balance and refresh yourself during these dark winter days.

1. Slow down.
The trees are deep in slumber right now, gathering their vitality to be expressed in the spring. There is a certain self that gets put on hold in the summer that aches to come forward now. It is the self of the inner life, the one that is your conscience, the one that keeps record of hurts, joys, and dismays during the year when you are so busy moving and the air is so full of energy that it can’t be heard in the mix. Slowing down can feel like foreign territory, uncomfortable even, but the more you work with what nature is doing around you, the more energy you will have in the spring  to be clear about what you want to do in life and to do it . 

2. Practice prayer and meditation.
Practice is what helps us during this time to remember who we are and that the experience we are having is part of a larger puzzle of life. Like an athlete, we are training our minds and body to remember the larger picture, the larger glory that is life.

3. Sensation.
Be aware of what is happening in front of you, around you, inside of you. The other day I was nominated to take pictures of nature and realized I was focusing on pictures of nature in the summer. While that is one way to deal with the winter, the fact is, there is so much beauty before us right now. Sometimes the sun does come out in February, it’s so nice to see it when it does!

4. Movement.
Find the movement that works for you. Without movement, the blood becomes sluggish, and you become sluggish in heart and mind. Some studies indicate aerobic exercise at a certain level can really help. While you can pressure yourself to do and move in certain way, allow for the fact that you are body needs a balance of vigorous with gentle. Some days I walk, some days I may run up a hill. Having trained for races, for fitness and  for many competitive activities, I have found at this point of the game that my body knows what it needs and to deeply listen. During this time, more gentle practices work for me.

5. Dirga breath.
This breath aligns the mind with the body. It is a 3 part breath that awakens the vagal tone by using the diaphragm, expanding into middle chest and the area around the heart and liver, and the upper ribs. Practicing this breath will help to detoxify and give you clarity about what is real. 

6. Take off your contact lens.
To get optimal light and to maintain Vitamin D levels, take off your contacts in the winter time. Or if you can go outside during a sunny day, take them out at least at noon when the sun is at its peak.

7. Self massage.
Abhyanga. Massaging the body with oil is wonderful for the skin, but it also increases “feel good” hormones to the brain, facilitating greater feelings of worth and positivity.

8. Eat regularly.
Do this to prevent dips in blood sugar and also to make sure your body stays nourished.

9. Remember.
Remember through friends and others that awareness, learning, and providing are all good, but even sometimes we need a break from all of it. Better to learn how to be with what is here without doing more for right now. Take a break from adding more commitment and just relax into what you already have. 

10. Community.
Get with a larger group of like minded souls such as your church, a yoga class, dancing group, meditation or prayer group…

Having said all this, serious depression can also come for some people. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a very real issue for some. If that low vitality and lacklusteredness turns into something more where it is hard to do your work, you are irritable all the time, you are crying a lot, and you are isolating yourself, get help. Sometimes extra care is needed! A therapist or counselor can help this.

While the things listed above are great to do at any time of the year, right now in particular, nature is supporting you to do them. Watch the trees, follow them. Dress warmly, nourish your skin, breathe deeply, move with pleasure…and if nothing else, remember this:

Embrace your light. It’s always there, even in the darkness.