How to “Embrace Winter” — Even in a Warm Climate
When I tell people that I came to Panama on retreat to embrace winter, they look at me with a confused curiosity. Most people come down here to get out of winter; in the two weeks I’ve been here so far, the weather has been around 90º F daily. It doesn’t exactly feel like “winter,” as I know it in New York City.
Unless you spend time in circles where spiritual or earth wisdom is discussed often, you might not be familiar with the concept of “winter energy.” In many cultures — especially the high-achiever, goal-obsessed, hustle, go-go-go culture in which many of us travel, the concepts related to winter energy aren’t valued. We don’t even like to discuss them.
Understanding and honoring winter energy is a key component of maintaining peak health and wellness, which is important enough on its own, and also necessary for optimizing productivity. When we honor winter, we can achieving more with less effort and frustration.
I’ll share more about that latter piece in a different post.
In this post, I want to address the question that seems to cause confusion:
What exactly, does it mean to embrace winter or honor winter? And how can you do it in a warm climate?
Taking our Cues From Nature
As a starting point, we must take ourselves out of the realm of linear time and modern technology, and into the realm of nature.
In nature, time moves in cycles. We see this in the ebb and flow of the tides, the phases of the moon, sunrises and sunsets, women’s menstrual cycles, the seasons of the year, and the rhythms of days.
Every natural cycle has four major components: inception, growth, release, and rest.
- Moon: New Moon, Waxing Half Moon, Full Moon, Waning Half Moon
- Days: Morning, Mid-Day, Afternoon, Evening
- Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
- Phase of Life: Childhood, Adult, Middle Age, Old Age
What Happens in Nature’s Winter
Winter is the season of rest and dormancy. It is a time of stillness and emptiness. In colder climates, the land is frozen. The trees are bare. Nature goes internal.
Bare trees doesn’t just happen in cold climates.
Panama doesn’t have a traditional “winter” as I experience in New York. They have a dry season and a wet season. Currently we are in the dry season, which is “winter” energy. This morning, as I took in the sunrise at the beach, I noticed how many trees were completely bare. This is winter.
In Winter, the days are shorter and the nights are longer.
Before artificial light and 24/7 cycles, this was a time to embrace the darkness. It created a natural time to stay in and rest. In a time when people lived off the land, winter was traditionally a time of scarcity; they had to sustain themselves on whatever they harvested during the fall. This required reducing activity and conserving energy to conserve food and resources.
As you likely learned in elementary school, winter is the season of hibernation. Animals in hibernation have slower heart rates and limit activity to conserve energy. In winter, all of nature goes inward to replenish and restore in preparation for spring.
How Nature Teaches Us to Embrace The Energy of Winter
Energetically, “winter” is the season for clearing out and embracing the darkness. It is a time for dreaming and receiving, for getting quiet so we can hear the sound of the “still, small voice” within us.
Winter is a time for releasing, reflection, restoration, and renewal. It is a time for silence and solitude; a time to go within, a time to embrace the darkness to find the light within, to dive into the deep waters of the subconscious.
It is also a time to grieve.
Winter is a time for planning, and for being “in the mystery” of the unknown.
This is the best time for creative incubation, the period before the act of creating. It is the time for deep inner work and inner processing.
Winter is a time for dormancy and rest. A time to nurture and nourish the soul and spirit, and restore our energy for the spring.
Winter is Not Just a Time of Year
This “winter energy” doesn’t apply only at a specific time of year or in specific weather. We experience “winters” in all areas of our lives.
Have you ever completed a major project and then felt unmotivated to do any work for a while? That’s the winter that comes after a big harvest and completion.
In a recession, or downtime in business, you might experience an “economic winter.”
A stay-at-home mom experiences a winter when all of her kids go off to school. Empty-nesters experience winter when their kids move out of the house. Selling a home, divorce, death of a loved one, ending a relationship or a job — all of these life moments create energetic “winter” in our lives.
We need not be in cold weather or arctic climates to experience winter or embrace winter. In fact, as I’ll share in a future article, we might get the most benefit out of embracing winter in a warm climate by the beach.