The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year; a threshold from dark to light; a reminder of death and rebirth. As we enter the winter season we are called to slow down, look inward, explore the depths of our shadow and reflect on the past year’s cycles as we emerge into a new way of being. We are called to remember the cyclical nature of life, and if we allow ourselves to live in sync with this non-linear way of being we open the flow to more possibilities.
In Chinese Medicine, winter represents the most Yin time of the year – a time of dark, passive, cold, gentle, slow, inward energy. It is associated with the Kidneys which hold our deepest source of life energy, our Jing. Jing is our life essence, the primal power that fuels our whole body. We can take advantage of this time to replenish this great reservoir of energy by integrating practices that calm the mind and raise the spirit such as resting, meditation, journaling, reflection and Chi Kung.
The kidneys are related to the sense of hearing and our ability to hear clearly. In the stillness and quiet of winter we are given the opportunity to tune our sense inward and listen to our internal dialogue. As we allow ourselves to slow down and reflect we can listen to our needs and desires, our fears and obstacles. Kidneys are also associated to our bones. Bone broths and warming foods and teas are excellent tonifying foods for this season. This is a time to nourish ourselves physically and spiritually.
Fear is the emotion related to the Kidneys and it becomes a central theme during winter. Undealt with fears deplete our Kindeys, Chi and Jing. As we come face to face with the death archetype during the solstice we are given the opportunity to shed a light on our fear. When we repress our fear it makes us feel stuck and frozen. With awareness and acceptance we can observe our fear without judgement and begin to move out of this stagnation. Letting go doesn’t require force. As we acknowledge what we are trying to release, it loses its power. If we can see the purpose it has served, we can gain wisdom from it and let go with more ease.
Winter is a time to recharge; to receive instead of doing. We live in a very linear culture, where productivity and efficiency are praised. Living attuned to the natural cycles of the earth and our bodies is difficult in this culture. Yin energy is not valued. Taking time to recharge, rest and be introspective is judged as laziness and being wasteful, yet by living more cyclically we are more aligned with life’s intelligence – each cycle and phase preparing us for the next one.
As we emerge into a new cycle, we can honour the cycles of life, death and birth. We have the opportunity to connect with life in a more intimate and deeper way by embracing death. It’s important to make time in these days to look back, reflect and harvest the wisdom from past cycles. Through this observation we can find ways to create a different, better future. As we listen, observe and embrace our shadow we have the opportunity to welcome the darkness around us and within us.