Mindful Practices for the Winter Months
As I sit and write this, the hours of daylight are getting shorter and for some of us, entering and enduring the winter months can be difficult in many ways. Especially this year, as we emerge from the cocoon of the pandemic, many of us are re-entering the world and socializing more than we have in the past two years. And let’s be honest: Re-entering can elicit anxious thoughts and feelings. We may not know why—whether it’s simply being out of practice with “people-ing” or if we have truly changed where and how we wish to extend our energy. Regardless of the reason, entering a new season, or even resuming activities that we have set aside for a while, we can feel the weight of added stress.
Maintaining Mindfulness Through the Seasons
In these situations, I call to mind some of my basic mindfulness practices that help when I will be socializing with people I have not seen in a long time or when I’m trying something new. I invite myself to enter the situation with openness and curiosity. Perhaps seeing family members that I have not seen in a long time, perhaps greeting people that I may not always agree with—I approach them as if it is the first time I am meeting them. With a beginner’s mind, I seek to put aside any pre-conceived opinions or judgments and invite in an opening to see the good in every person, in every situation.
Getting caught up in the trap of perfection can also influence our enjoyment of life. My mindful practices, including conscious use of social media, has helped me maintain a healthy perspective. Reflecting through a gratitude journal has helped me connect with what really matters to me, where meaning really lies. Showing up authentically and living a life of integrity and balance may be how this looks for you, in your journey of living with meaning.
These months when we may not be outside as much, preferring to stay indoors for longer periods of time, we can also find ourselves lonely and missing the company of others. Accept that these are natural and normal feelings! When I feel these emotions rising, I pause and explore how I am feeling with self-compassion and grace. Whether with the mail carrier or UPS driver, or a family member, or a co-worker, I seek to connect in meaningful ways from a place of compassion and generosity of spirit.
Lastly, I approach these months with curiosity! My daily journaling and art practice explore what the darker, colder months can teach me about myself. And as the daylight hours extend, I look forward to nature awakening. Mindfully, I notice the changes outside my window and am in awe of how nature survives and thrives as it regenerates during the winter. What can each of us learn from this?
Ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and as a certified interspiritual counselor, I currently offer spiritual coaching and creativity sessions in person in my North Haven office, as well as by phone and Zoom. You can learn more about me at: lauriingram.com or contact me at: email@example.com or 203.435.5650.