It’s so easy to let the winter season bottle you up in your house in an odd mix of hibernation mode and cabin fever. But you don’t have to let winter hem you in.
Take some time to go outdoors and re-expand your world. After all, there are only so many board games you can play. Time outdoors has been shown over and over to be vital to our physical and mental health in ways we can’t yet understand and are only beginng to be able to measure.
Winter is a great time for natural meditation (or just gathering your thoughts). To get back in touch with the rhythm of the seasons, I like to explore the world, focusing individually on each of my senses.
Each season has a unique set of impressions it leaves lingering on your skin, burned behind your eyelids, a faint trace of scent, a taste on your tongue. Each sense you have is a gift, so take the time to truly appreciate each one of them.
You say you can’t manage a woodland hike in this cold weather? You can barely make it out the door? Then walk just outside your front step tomorrow morning and take 30 seconds to do nothing but listen.
What do you hear? The crunch of your boots on snow. A bird call oddly muffled by the white blanket covering the landscape. The pattering drip of water melting off the trees? Take a deep breath. Take it all in.
Take a walk through the pines. Leave your camera at home so you can see through your own eyes. What do you see?
The dapple of sunlight dancing its way through the branches? Early morning steam rising off the meadow where sun meets frost? Stillness interwoven with movement as birds dart their way between their refuges? Or maybe the clear bright stars of a winter night? Take a deep breath. Take it all in.
Every season has its own taste. The fresh young pine needles of the summer inevitably give way to winter’s sharp, dry tannins. Autumn’s fruity rose hips dry into tart little berries, just begging to be made into tea.
The world is there to be experienced — and there’s no experience quite like the crisp, clean taste of a new snowflake melting on your tongue.
My favorite reward of a hike in the mountains is the moment I take a deep breath and become aware of the fresh scent of pine and wet earth. Slowing down to enjoy the scents of the trail, my lungs seem somehow clearer, my mind brighter.
They say scents have the most direct connection to the emotional center of the brain — I guess that means that if you want to brighten your day, you should take the time to open up your nose first.
Winter definitely has its own feel. Stepping out into the wild, what will you feel?
The feathery brush of a snowflake against your cheek. The slippery lurch of ice underneath your feet. The crisp, pinching bite on the tip of your nose on a bitter cold night. The warmth of the fire embracing your body as you walk through the door.
Take a deep breath … and take it all in with a smile. Time in nature is time spent healing.
So when winter comes, instead of complaining about the cold, go out and consciously revel in its crispness, its beauty, its sensations.