Winter is Nature’s time to hibernate and retreat. Since we are also connected to Nature, it is wise that we follow her lead and begin to slow down, get ample amounts of sleep, rest, meditate, and retreat in order to recharge after a long productive year. After all, most of the natural world becomes dormant during this season, why shouldn’t we?
Where to begin? For starters, I highly recommend opening your winter routine with an intention that inspires you and opens your heart space for deeper listening. While keeping in mind the particular demands of your life, look at any undesirable behavioral pattern, habit, or attachment you have and consider removing just one to help you change, enhance, or grow into a more conscious being this season. What is currently occupying your life energy right now? Which part of your self is likely to go out of balance (diet, spending habits, travel, or other)? And, do you have any goals on the horizon for the near future (such as graduation, exercising three times a week, buying a new car, or taking a vacation)? Choosing your goals and taking the appropriate action is where intention comes in handy everyday as a way to redirect your time, energy (prana), and resources.
After an intention is set, consider starting a morning meditation practice to drop into deeper listening. Make sure you have found the right amount of support to be physically comfortable in a chair, cushion, or lotus position. A short 5- to10-minute, medium 10- to 20-minute, or long 20- to 60-minute sit will have a tremendous effect on your day. In my experience, meditating on and off over the past 17 years, I’ve noticed greater balance, clarity, and efficiency in my day-to-day choices when my day begins on the meditation cushion. By reflecting on the meaning of yoga (union) and my relationship to spirit, I’ve gained more self-awareness, confidence, and trust in my life’s purpose and meaning. Dedication and love for the practice and Self will eventually lead you to a still point—which feels like your own personal retreat center—to return to again and again.
Please, don’t just take my word on this, try it for yourself. And as Jamyang Kyenste Rinpoche said, “The more and more you listen, the more and more you will hear. The more you hear, the more and more deeply you will understand.”
For daily inspiration on meditation: http://www.facebook.com/TheTake5Project
What if eating became a part of your meditation practice? To start, choose a special, clean place to eat each meal, free of clutter and distractions. I believe it is valuable to choose a specific comfortable seat just for eating—like you would do for meditation—other than your couch, desk, bed, or car. This is one very important way to promote conscious eating; it can also prevent overeating which puts out your agni (inner digestive fire). In general, the more mindful you are when you eat, the more you relish and savor your foods and the more satiated you feel with less. As a winter practice, consider savoring how your food tastes and smells, pay attention to how well your body digests it, and tune in to how much you need to satisfy your hunger. With too much food in your belly, it’s easy to lose motivation; without enough food, it’s hard to maintain focus or stamina to get through one day, let alone answer your heart’s calling.