Whispers for Winter
Author Edith Sitwell: “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
In Traditional Chinese Medicine Winter is associated with the element of water and the spiritual power of the will. It is true that in the winter time we are encouraged to explore introspection and quietude. Many of us start to look deeply at our path and attempt to gain clarity on what we ‘will’ do next.
The months of January, February and March are difficult for many people. In Ayurveda we call late winter into early spring the Kapha time of year. The earth and water time of year. Many people start to feel sluggish and slightly melancholy in late winter/early spring. So today I would like to offer five wellness whispers that help me and many others to find ease in the wintertime.
Warm Nourishing Foods
In the wintertime we feel called to do this naturally, which is a healthy instinct. Cold, dry and hard foods are difficult to digest for many people. In the winter time our body is working to regulate its temperature and so giving the body difficult foods to digest doesn’t help the situation. We can be careful not to eat too much sweet, heavy, fatty or mucus-forming foods. Soups are ideal this time of year! Rich in vegetables, grains, legumes, and spices.
The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D is produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It’s kind of magical actually, like a human version of photosynthesis. Vitamin D helps you to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which is important for the health of your bones and teeth. It also supports proper immune system function. Some research has revealed that vitamin D deficiency is common in people with acute anxiety and depression and so it is often encouraged in fighting the lows of winter time.
When we become introspective in the wintertime, sometimes the stuff of the heart surfaces. Sometimes it’s the good stuff and other times it is the difficult stuff. Perhaps this is why many people battle seasonal depression in the spring. We can’t ignore our thoughts and feelings for long. The out of sight, out of mind principle doesn’t work when it comes to our psychology. So it can be really helpful to meditate with the aim of opening up the heart energy center in the winter and spring.
The ritual of tea time can be an inspiring and fun practice to cultivate in the winter. Instead of your afternoon latte on the go, consider drinking a cup of tea in quietude or with a good friend. Choose a tea for it’s healing properties. Fennel tea is a lovely option. Fennel seed is sweet and cooling. It is kind to the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. Fennel is calming. Paired with some vitamin D and a heart meditation and you simply can’t suffer for toooo long.
Ayurvedic Self-Care Practices
I live at high altitude in the rocky mountains. Up here we are dry. So what we call oleation therapy is incredibly rejuvenative, but not only for us mountain folk. What this involves is lightly oiling your entire body before a steam or shower. You can use the oil appropriate to your dosha. If you don’t know what that is you can use olive, sesame, or coconut oil. Lather up from head to toe and pause for 15-30 minutes. Than without scrubbing, rinse off in the shower or after a steam. Doing this once a week is great for most people. You also might like to scrape your tongue in the morning with a spoon or a tongue scraper. Practice yoga postures that are balancing and restorative. Oleation therapy heals your organs, tissues, and bones via your skin and helps to draw out toxins at the same time. It is a central practice in Ayurvedic healing.
You could say that all of the above are Ayurvedic self care practices. And, it’s great to lay them out there as friendly reminders that we do have power over our own health and well being at all times.