Living with the seasons - Winter

A time for stillness and reflection

Winter is the time of the year when there is little or no growth in nature, a time of waiting, resting and hibernating. Deciduous trees (such as the silver birch, maple tree, hazelnut and chestnuts on the property) have let go of their leaves in order to focus their energy inward, conserving and storing essential nutrients.

In this time of the year, you may notice the inclination for activities/social commitments to fall away and a preference for more quiet time. The long cold nights and shorter days gives us a perfect opportunity to be still and for quiet reflection. On the property, we have much shorter work days. We take time in the morning to meditate and reflect, and spend the evenings by the fire with a book and cup of tea. While it is difficult to slow down (especially at night time with the use of the internet/computers and millions of jobs on the to do list), we find the discipline to slow down, recognising the importance of recharging our reserves and resting our bodies to give us the energy required when the sudden burst of spring comes around the corner. 

Slow cooked nourishing meals

In the garden, the summer vegetable bounty has been harvested, preserved or pickled and there is little to do on the land and garden. It is a time for cleaning and sorting garden/work tools, and maintaining the roads and buildings. In the kitchen, there is still plenty of seasonal veggies to cook with, such as: cauliflower, flowering broccoli, cabbage. Stores of potato, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, onion and garlic are also available from the autumn harvest. Winter greens such as are kale, mustard greens, chicory and silverbeet are also abundant and deliciously sweet and nutritious.

With the slower pace of living, winter is a time for slow cooked meals - roast vegetables, slow cooked stews/roasts and soups. To keep digestion balanced, we like to include a side of winter green salad or include fermented sauerkraut with each meal. Evenings are spent with a relaxing herbal tea such as lavender, camomile, lemon verbena or ginger/turmeric.

Emotions and energetics 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the element associated with Winter is water which has a downward energy, and this energy is expressed through the Kidney and Bladder meridian which store our most vital essences. When we are in harmony with the Water element, we feel comfortable with uncertainty and stillness, and have the clarity and willpower to make day to day choices. When we are out of balance, we may feel cold and contracted, distrust and fear of the unknown. Our bodies may ache, particularly in the lower back where the kidneys reside, and we may be suffering from cold/flu symptoms.

If you are feeling slightly out of balance in winter, it’s a good time to rest and take the time for nourishing practices such as time out in nature, having a shiatsu treatment, eating warm soups, sleep and qi building practices such as meditation and qigong.