How to use Winter as Movement Medicine

As a young Maiden living in the Greater Chicago Area, I always dreaded the long dreary winters.  As a Sophomore in High School, I remember a year where we went more than 40 days without seeing the sun in His glory.  Needless to say, the sun lamps, tanning salons and school parties couldn’t keep SAD (seasonal affective disorder) at bay for me…

This is a HUGE reason why I moved to Northern California almost 18 years ago.  Now, as a woman in the late stage of Motherhood, I welcome Winter in all Her glory.  True, it helps that here in NorCal the winters are not REALLY winters…yet I also have spent the past 5 years learning about the purpose of Winter both literally and metaphorically.

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From Mystic Mama

If you have read any of my writings before – you know that Winter is equated to Death in the ancient cultures.  Before Patriarchy as a societal structure really took root, our Ancestors understood the place Death had in the circle of life and purposefully told stories about the Other Side.  Their stories talked about what happened in the “under world” or “on the other side of the veil” to souls.  Even into the patriarch stories, there were remnants of “Death” built into the cycle s of life with the weekly and 7th year Sabbath (where the land was allowed to Rest).  Our Ancestors did not hide Death from their youngsters behind brick walls, share that Death needed to be “conquered by some god”, nor try to extend life by painting their dead and showcasing them to the world as if they were still alive.

They accepted Death – both literal Death and the millions of daily opportunities to practice Death – as part of Life.

Holding to this World View allowed them to therefore both grieve the natural process of loss of life…and then celebrate the death that would give way to more life.

As we enter the longest nights of the year, let us harness this World View so we can direct our energy purposefully to serve us in the Death of this Year.

In our fast-paced, forward progress society, learning how to slow down, rest and “be barren” for even just a moment FEELS counter-intuitive.  We FEEL unproductive, lazy and perhaps like we are going to be left behind.  This can cause a feeling of anxiety and anxiousness.  So in order to escape that feeling – we push, push, push to finish the shopping, the wrapping, the giving, the parties, the projects, the mule tide & fruit cake….(fill in the blank)…until we collapse into a heap of exhaustion or some illness after the New Year.


Yet…there is a way to blend the wisdom of the ancients with our need to be productive in this society!


"Aim" Limited Edition Digital Print by Mystic Mama “Aim” Limited Edition Digital Print by Mystic Mama

It is as simple as changing our Mind Frame about what rest IS.

We can REFRAME our beliefs about slowing down/resting/”laziness” during this season and beyond into something like these:

  • * Winter is a time of purposeful grieving the old and celebrating the excited anticipation of what-is-to-come.  I CONSCIOUSly choose to direct my energy inwards, where I can “grieve” and let go of this past year, of unfulfilled dreams, hopes and aspiration, celebrate what I have accomplished and start tilling the soil with DEEP REST for what is to come!
  • * Rest/Sleep/Downtime is not being Lazy – it is a time to be ultra productive in a different way.  A way that will allow me to reach my fullest potential come the next turn of the next Cycle.  I purposefully direct my energy towards tilling and building a strong foundation for my goals/intentions in the coming years.
  • * Tilling and building a strong foundation is the rest/sleep/downtime/introspection time that allows me to get clear on where I want to go, take inventory of what I have and what I will need and to ensure that my goals/intentions are in line with my overall vision for my life.
  • * Deep Rest in the Winter will help me avoid illness –  or pro-longed illness – because my body has a chance to restore and build up Her/His reserve of nutrients that will help keep illness away or at bay.

picture-6Being able to Reframe the metaphoric and literal meaning of Winter has saved my life in these past years, and made me super productive at the same time.  As a woman who still bleeds, practicing “Death” monthly has reduced my symptoms of PMS greatly – and sent the “B*tchy PMS monster” packing for good (aren’t my boys glad!) ….while allowing me access to deeper aspects of my consciousness (an entire other post).  It has not kept me from getting sick (I am still unlearning my old ways and learning the new!) or from having times of depression (another useful aspect of Winter).

Yet understanding the purpose of Death has kept me from getting stuck in Death.

In stead of fearing, shunning, hiding from or ignoring “Winter/Death” (whether it show up as an illness, depression, the end of the year/dream/marriage or chapter of life) – I purposefully, consciously choose to use the hidden power of “Winter/Death” as a catalyst.

The thing to understand here about the “Power of Death” is that the energy isn’t stopped or dead…it is simply deep/internal and cycling itself around itself ~ as in the seed.  A seed is not “dead” but simply a power packed condensed energy that when in the correct conditions will “explode” into life!

Soooo…when we understand this NATURAL FLOW of energy inwards towards a more “dormant” state and allow it to happen – instead of resisting it – we actually will move through the “downtimes” with much more ease and grace.

In short…understanding the time, place and purpose of/for Death keeps us….

Yes ~ even Death/Stillness/Rest/Sleep is Movement Medicine peeps!  

WHAM BAM – There you have it folks!  Did you see the wild connection coming at ya?

Here is just one idea of how to keep Death from becoming stagnant and thus stuck.nathan-crothers

  1. Whenever a “Winter/Death” begins or when you catch it is happening ~ SLOW DOWN and take as many deep breaths as you need to relax into this moment. Pay attention to where you feel any tension in your body and consciously ask your body to release the tension with the out breath.
  2. Recite out loud any of the above Reframes and/or create your own.
    Bonus: Look yourself in the eyes in the mirror!
  3. Put on slow music and practice Yin Yoga/Dance. Go slow, allowing the energy to move you instead of trying to move the energy.  Feel it pulse as you move and follow where It wants to move.  If something feels stuck or difficult – instead of avoiding that area – move slower, asking what would feel good in order to help it feel more free/open/less tension.  Sometimes doing this practice after more rigorous movement will help you feel the energy more readily.  \
  4. End in a Corpse Pose, allowing the breath to breath your whole body – taking notice of what is there in your body or mind without creating additional stories and “to-dos”.  Simply notice and allow.
  5. From here, you can spend a few moments journaling about what came to you during this practice. If ideas came to you, simply note them for a later time instead of rushing forward to act on them.  Let this simply be the cultivation of the soil/gestation – not the actually planting and gestation time!

Let me know who this practice works for you – or if you create your own practice that you would like to share with us!

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