Winter Reflections

December has arrived again with almost as much uncertainty as the last one. This constant uncertainty is a lot of work for our nervous system which is primed to keep looking out for danger to keep us safe.  The ‘tiger’ shows up in many disguises in our life and the feeling of threat can be an ongoing buzz in the system.  There are many ways to work with the nervous system to reduce stress at a physiological level but one of these is deep rest.

Rest is the medicine of winter, when the growing season has completed one cycle and lies dormant before the next.  We can choose to embrace it for re-charging our batteries.   Often, we don’t take the medicine until we are ready to collapse, shutdown or we get a cold or ailment.  The body’s way of saying STOOOPPP!!

I have an interesting relationship with rest which you might identify with.   For many years I was fed the message that rest was a waste of time, that we need to be getting things done in order to be ok or have value.   I know it’s a common message in our society.    I’ve countered this with trying to undo this programming.  I regularly practice relaxation but so often there is a deep subtle resistance.  The nervous system still on alert looking out for threats below the level of my consciousness.

I want to share an experience I had this week around having my booster and knowing I was teaching in the evening and next day.  Aware that I could feel exhausted, I planned to mitigate this by giving myself permission to completely rest afterwards and between classes.  I practiced my neuro-sensory exercises to create safety and then did various restorative practices like Yoga Nidra.  Then gave myself permission to really rest.  I didn’t get distracted by my ‘shoulds’ and I didn’t drift in and out of planning mode.  I just let myself rest, just for me.

The affect was astounding and yet actually not at all surprising.   After truly resting I felt like I’d been on retreat for a few days.  Deeply nourished and at peace with myself.  My self-talk was kinder and my inner voices were slower and calmer.  I didn’t feel energised but I had a calm, grounded energy and when I began to prepare my courses my mind was sharp, efficient and the ideas were flowing.

Even though I know this, it felt brand new.  Sometimes we need to re-learn from experience again and again to create longer lasting habits and changes.

So for me the medicine of winter this year is about practising giving myself permission to rest.  To regularly make time for it, to create a sense of safety so my nervous system drops its guard and allows me to truly rest.

What’s your winter medicine?

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