Wintertime brings us shorter days, cold, wind and snow, lots of snow from our many lakes. It forces chores upon us like snow shoveling and roof raking. Our travels are curtailed and we spend more time indoors. But rather than seeing winter as limiting and making us housebound, understand it for the gift that it is. Mother Nature is telling us to come indoors and look inwards at ourselves.
We have lost the powerful impact that the seasonal changes have upon us. We have heated and air-conditioned houses, trips to different climes whenever we wish, and we can eat foods out of season. We are increasingly less and less at the mercy of seasonal changes.
These are changes that bring with them the cycle of life and death; it is a tale of rebirth and renewing. And winter is the time to reflect upon what has been and what can be. It is a time of hibernation, of drawing in and of solitude, which unfortunately many see as loneliness. So instead we turn to our savior of technology and surf the net, or call friends. But this is an urge you should resist – at least periodically for prolonged periods of time.
It is that solitude that winter forces upon us, if we let it, that I so much appreciate. I long for wintry days that make me housebound and force me to meditate more, explore and reflect.
Solitude can be powerfully healing and transformative. It often brings a wonderful blessing. In speaking on solitude psychiatrist and former Oxford professor Anthony Storr notes in his book Solitude, A Return To The Self that,
“Removing oneself voluntarily from one’s habitual environment promotes self-understanding and contact with those inner depths of being which elude one in the hurly-burly of day-to-day life…[T]he most profound and healing psychological experiences which individuals encounter take place internally, and are only distantly related, if at all, to interaction with other human beings.”
Find some time this winter to be by yourself. It could be a few hours, a day, or even a few days. Don’t watch TV, abandon your cell phone and the internet and take a vacation from social media. If you find this difficult build up to it slowly by beginning with shorter intervals and increase the amount of time spent in solitude gradually over time.
Read a book that inspires you, write in a journal, mediate or just ponder and imagine. Most importantly just be.
A great gift has been given to you. Take advantage of it and don’t let it slip away.