A constant battle I have always had with myself is allowing rest. Even when I can acknowledge that I am tired, giving in to rest causes me to believe that I am being (the dreaded word) ‘lazy’. I’ve always been scared of the word lazy, it is a fear I battle mainly in the warmer months of summer. How many times have you denied yourself needed rest because the sun’s out? Or maybe I should adjust that question to Scotland and say ‘because it’s not raining’…
We recently had the wonderful Hannah Swift of Yellow Empress Acupuncture join us for Tribe Talks. Her session covered a range of topics around menopause but all stemmed back to how to look after yourself in both mind and body. I was particularly fond of the analogy of the seasons and how we can identify our bodies’ needs by assigning seasons to our cycles (you can read more about this here). I’ve come to realise that this can not only be used as a powerful tool in understanding menstrual cycles but a tool to help honour rest and remove the self perpetuated notion of being ‘lazy’.
Rest is not a passive action, nor is it a negative. Rest can be just as, if not more imperative to our wellbeing than that quick run around the block or 30 minute yoga session. When thinking about the ancient Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang it becomes easier to apply the concept of dualism. All things have two facets, nothing is purely good nor is it purely bad.
“When life-force energy is appropriately balanced between Yin and Yang, it flows smoothly maintaining and promoting a good state of physical and emotional health”-Elina Zagkorontskagia
By applying the seasons to aid in understanding yourself, your moods and your energy you can help to pace your energy, calm your nervous system and gain insights into your overall wellbeing. Think about the seasons and what moods you attach to these. What things can you supply yourself with during your winters to bring yourself back into spring and summer?
Here are some examples of how to apply the seasons to yourself and your wellbeing:
Surrender and let go. Stopping and digesting may expose us to what we have been keeping at bay by keeping busy. Now is the time to give in to your tired and weary self, let go of expectations and simply rest.
Time to take stock and hype yourself up. Your inner spring is a time of becoming. It’s time to feel at home with yourself and celebrate being you, say yes to yourself.
Liberation and express your power. Manifest your calling, fulfill yourself and your spirit, dare to be your truest fullest self.
Here is where your inner critic rests. This will cause disruption and disturbance internally and deflate your ego. The challenge here is to sit in discomfort long enough to learn and grow but still hold onto your goodness.
“Plants store up resources through their root systems, waiting for spring for their next burst of growth. Nature shows us the wise way to be: we should follow a period of busyness with a time for deep rest”-Mimi Kuo Deemer
Once you have observed and visualised your seasons of emotions ask yourself how you tend to deal with them. How can you nurture your needs and come back into summer? By observing natures cycles, respecting that emotions come and go in seasonal shifts and applying this to our own lifestyles we can understand that rest is not a shortcoming, nor is it lazy. By resting we can take stock and nourish our bodies. Let’s value and respect intentional quiet time and let go of the need to be busy.
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Thanks for reading,
There was a moment, and I mean about 13 seconds, of sunshine the other day and it hit me like a bolt of lightning. My body reacted, I felt lifted and brighter in my chest, all before my mind knew what was going on. The realisation that a moment of sunshine could impact me so much was joyous and a reminder of the darkness.
I was surprised by my instant happiness to the light as I claim to quite like the winter season and the idea of wintering. A time to go inward, slow down and meander in the dark. Perhaps the combination of lockdown and the Scottish winter (limited daylight and wet for those who don’t know) has made this time of year particularly challenging.
In the cold, short days of winter, the darkness outside seems to correlate with a darkened mood within us; it’s an observation that goes back at least as far as Hippocrates.
According to Maya Kroth, darkness can affect us all, and in surprising ways. Science suggests that darkness can do all kinds of things to the human body and brain: It can make us more likely to lie and cheat, make mistakes at work, and even see things we don’t normally see.
I have been researching different biological rhythms, otherwise known as chronobiology. It examines the effects of time on biological events and internal biological clocks. Physically, without bright morning sunlight to reset it every day, your internal clock will increasingly run out of phase. For most people, that means they get up later and later. This would explain why my 15 year old would rather wake up at 4pm than 8am.
The best part about the darkness is how it helps me look at the light. Your internal clock gets activated when light coming in through the eye stimulates a part of the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is responsible for controlling circadian rhythms. As all of the rhythms are part of chronobiology, it is no wonder how lightness and darkness effects us in so many ways.
What role can you play in creating, bringing and being the light? I’m inspired by my best mate’s 2021 purpose: to bring the light and actively seek out opportunities to bring the light to challenges at work. Knowing that you can create the light and even be the light —well, that is illuminative.
From small adaptations like hygge (the Danish concept of intimate coziness and warmth), to seeking out opportunities at work to be the light, and even courageous acts from having an open, light heart. These acts and moments of light shine even brighter in these especially dark times. Trusting that we all can be a light in so many different ways is hugely comforting.
Here are some superb words about how to find light from darkness by Parker Palmer;
“Suffering breaks our hearts, but the heart can break in two different ways. There’s the brittle heart that breaks into shards, shattering the one who suffers as it explodes, and sometimes taking others down when it’s thrown like a grenade at the ostensible source of its pain. Then there’s the supple heart, the one that breaks open, not apart, the one that can grow into greater capacity for the many forms of love. Only the supple heart can hold suffering in a way that opens to new life.”
As always, I would love to hear from you.