In this four-part series I review elements of the four seasons and aspects of health relevant to the particular season; it is a bridge to the wisdom of the ancient whole health systems of medicine and lays a foundation for future series.
Part 1: Winter: Nurturing Ourselves: “10 Basic Needs in Nurturing Ourselves at the Deepest Level”
Part 2: Spring: Preparing for Growth and Change
Part 3: Summer: Experiencing the Abundance within and without
Part 4: Fall: Reaping the Harvest and Preparing for Transition to Winter
If we pay attention to our relationship with nature at the different times of year, we will naturally learn to live in harmony with each season; this will support our various natural rhythms and make things a little easier for us. We have daily rhythms, the sleep-wake cycle, circadian rhythm, diurnal rhythm, women’s monthly menstrual cycle. But there are also others: new and full moon cycle, seasonal cycle, cycles of 7 and 8 years which are major transformative cycles in our biological and personal development, and the developmental life cycle itself from infancy to old age. Hormones and neurotransmitters are the communicators in the body; they coordinate in complex, rhythmic network-patterns and are influenced by environmental factors as well as internal ones. And there are many other aspects of health that are sensitive to environmental shifts.
One example demonstrating the relationship between inner rhythms and the season: I have been thinking of starting this blog for quite some time but actually wrote it on the eve of Winter Solstice December 21, 2017: not only was it clear what I wanted to say, but the words flowed naturally. It is as if an Inner Muse suddenly turned on. In a way I was in the dark about this: I had a good idea of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it but lacked clarity and direction. As I began to prepare myself for Winter Solstice, I reflected on past experiences that I have integrated through the years. I always think of this time as an amazing transition into a more sedentary and cerebral lifestyle. When I was younger Winter was a time of invigorating outdoor sports, and now I still enjoy brisk walks, being in the cold(it actually is energizing and supports growth of our mitochondria just like fasting: mitochondria are the organelles that are the energy producers inside our cells). Winter becomes for me a time of intellectual creativity and further gathering of existing projects and activities. Rather than being put off by the cold weather, dark nights, gloomy days and gray landscape, it has become a warm embrace, an invitation to turn inward, to be more mindful, more attentive, and to cultivate a sense of ease as I more willingly embrace rest and relaxation. At first adjusting to the change to Daylight Savings time by getting up an hour earlier to make up for the change in amount of light but then within a month or so to sleep in longer and enjoy the long dark night of sleep. Not only relaxing such as gazing at the fire in the fireplace, but sensing and feeling the warmth within my own darkness, that it is not just cold and empty, frightening and disheartening.
But to have the knowledge, the memory, that the light will return and to imagine it there if it has not yet arrived. And not be concerned about oughts or shoulds if for some reason it doesn’t feel authentic or the time is not yet right. But to feel invited to participate in co-creating this time as a re-birth, as a renewal, and not just as death and deterioration which is so much the surface energy and so many of us are vulnerable to it and easily pulled down by it at this dark time of year.
This is so important as we transition into the second half of life: menopause and andropause, for it is a time for an inner, sacred journey, a time for soul-making, a time for claiming one’s inner wisdom found by embracing our inner darkness, accommodating to the night, seeing one’s soul illuminated, opening to our inner sensibilities: inner speech and vision and thought and sound and sensation, feeling at home with unconscious material close in mind and acknowledging the contents with equanimity. Sometimes we are thrown into this unexpectedly and are not prepared and are overwhelmed; so often we don’t have the tools or do not remember them to decipher the meaning of these inner experiences.