While the concept of the new year being a good time to review your life and set new goals, in practice, the middle of winter is a very difficult time to do this for many of us. Winter is a natural time when we may want to hibernate, when we need stores of food and shelter to sustain us through the winter. So rather than making big, radical changes in our lives, or setting big resolutions to change our diet or workout routines (can often feel like fighting against the season), here are some suggestions and tips for incorporating more connection, intentionality, and creativity in our lives.
1. Embrace Winter
This is a hard one for me, but once I learned about the Danish lifestyle concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), I began to see the light. Hygge is all about creating a space and environment that feels comforting and cozy. Most homes in Denmark are designed with this in mind - making sure there are spaces in your home where you can relax, have a warm meal, or cozy up under blankets to read or write. Lighting fixtures are soft and candles are abundant. Restaurants in Denmark are even rated by the level of how hygge they feel . The idea here is not about luxury, it's about being intentional about our time and space, cultivating a lifestyle that nurtures us. It's about supporting ourselves in our downtime, especially throughout winter, and making that time and that space something that really nourishes our spirit. So bring out your blankets and pillows and set up a hygge corner in your home, make a cup of tea, and get out your favorite book or write a letter to an old friend. Or create an intimate dinner party or potluck and invite over a few friends. Light candles, get some plants or flowers to add a little freshness and reconnect. You don't have to spend a lot of money to create more hygge and more connection with yourself and your loved ones in your life and in your home.
2. Tap into the cycles of the moon.
The Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle. This means that a day starts at sundown and ends the next day at sundown. This is why Shabbat starts on Friday night and ends of Saturday night. So too, each Hebrew month is counting according to the moon. Each month starts with the new moon and is 28 or 29 days. The start of each new month is called Rosh Chodesh, literally meaning head of the month. According to Jewish wisdom traditions, each Hebrew month has special attributes, often corresponding to the season or to the holiday that occurs that month. Cultivating a practice to take a little bit of time each month to notice the cycle of the moon and the new moon can have a profound impact on our lives. Taking the time to learn about and meditate on the themes of that month can help us feel more grounded. Following the cycle of the moon also reminds us there is a natural waxing and waning to what life brings our way. Remembering that the moon goes through phases - and so do we - can help us move through challenges or different emotions. It's easy to feel like our days and years are passing us by, but taking the time each month to slow down and pause, can help us take stock and check in with ourselves. Adding this into your life as a spiritual practice can help us live more integrated, holistic lives. Doing this in a group can also help us feel more rooted and connected with other like-hearted individuals where we can support each others spiritual practice and personal growth together.
3. Express yourself
Often in my workshops and classes, I build in time for students to write or make art. Some of my students have a regular journaling practice or have a natural creative ability and love to make art. However, many of my students don't necessarily identify as an artist or with a creative talent. And that's ok. So many of us found joy in the freedom to draw, paint or make collages as a child but somewhere along the way we were told or decided for ourselves that we were not good artists. I see this a lot. Somehow, growing up we got it into our heads that good art should look beautiful. Often I try to "unteach" this or help my students "unlearn" the idea that art needs to look a certain way. The art and writing we do in my workshops is more focused on the creative process, taking the time to express yourself in a medium which you may not often use in your daily life as an adult. The process of allowing yourself to make something with your hands, to express a thought, feeling or image in your heart and then to put it on paper is very meaningful and profound. It can also feel vulnerable to do this, but there is growth that comes from cultivating the ability to express ourselves in different ways. Engaging in this kind of practice - whether it's for 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes can be incredibly rewarding - simply for the sense of unfettered engagement in the activity at hand and the sense of accomplishment. So whether it's an adult coloring book, writing in your journal, taking your art supplies our of the closet or cutting up an old magazine - give yourself the opportunity to get your creative juices going and get in the flow. See what happens. Reflect on your work with love and self-compassion. This process provides us with care, healing, and self-growth.
If you're interested in tapping into any of these practices, sign up for my newsletter, reach out to me to find out more about private spiritual coaching or join me for Align: a monthly series starting Saturday night February 2, 2019 at 7:30pm at the Center for Mindful Living in Washington, DC. Each monthly workshop gathering will include ritual, teachings on the season and the month, and have time for creative expression and intention setting - all designed to help you align with the seasons and cycles in your life. This is a wonderful opportunity to integrate more rootedness, spirituality and creative expression into your life. For details and registration, click here.