I get excited for the Winter Solstice; I look forward to noticing the one minute lengthening of days just like I watch for the onset of Autumn’s color changes! The little bright spots sustain me, what can I say.
The remedy in ancient days for this time of less sun, more cold was community, food, and activity. And what do we modern, evolved people do? We do the same – gather with co-workers for co-mingling, with family for celebrations, with friends for parties.
This is a time for us to connect with resources and people, rekindle the wonder and magic of this time of year. It is a time that brings forth the energy of sharing, not the commercial gift giving, but true sharing and connection.
Way back when, winter was the starvation season. To avoid this, cattle were slaughtered due to lack of feed thereby providing warming, sustaining food for people during the winter months. Grains and grapes from summer and fall harvests fermented and were ready for consumption. And the people gathered together toasting and eating around the fire that also extended their exposure to light. This was all that was needed, plus a little dancing and sparring, to get through until March or April.
Insufficient sunlight increases circulating melatonin in the body which throws off circadian rhythm with longer sleep cycles. Many patients mention seasonal affective disorder – the combination of cold, lack of sun, tiredness, malaise, decreased activity and therefore increased melatonin, decreased serotonin and depressive symptoms. What is the remedy for this?
- Exercise. Most people start up a winter regime in the New Year. It does help. Even 30 minutes of vigorous activity 3 times a week. If you don’t want to join a gym, take advantage of the community donation yoga classes (usually on Sundays) or take a dance class.
- Negative Ions. A room full of green plants will improve your wellbeing. The visual bursts of green will improve your mood, and the negative ions they produce will physically/chemically improve your symptoms.
- Light therapy. Devices abound for increasing light exposure – tables, desk top models or just full spectrum bulbs. Get outside midday just to get a little sun despite the cold temperatures.
These will reinvigorate the body from the seasonal lull, decrease melatonin production and increase serotonin production.
But what I really want you to find is the inner light. Winter is the time to restore, go inward, the time for ultimate potential. The germination of a new life cycle starts with a spark, the inner light. When the external light is limited, find your inner light that which excites you, the creative potential that arises from delight, joy, wonder, magic and miracles.
My holiday mailing to patients contained a quote from Les Miserable
“Children instantly and familiarly accept rejoicing and happiness because that is their natural element”.
If you cannot feel the wonder and joy in your current moment, reference a childhood memory. Wonder, magic and joy are there. I remember the wide-eyed kid rushing on December 7 to see what St. Nick magically left in her tube sock stocking! I was delighted by coloring books, fruit and chocolate. Two magical days just weeks apart, St. Nick leaving surprise gifts then Santa leaving (a portion) of the exact gifts written in the letter I sent him. I remember with fondness how my father encouraged the belief by leaving cookie crumbs, ho-ho-ho-ing and jingling bells late on Christmas Eve. Wonder and joy were and remain our natural element deep inside the heart and being. This inner light is sparked by wonder and joy deep within our core; it shines through warming, fueling, lighting the way through the dark months, the dead of winter.
Wishing you months of basking in the glow of your inner brightness this Winter Solstice!