Take inspiration from nature to live seasonally this month and opt to tune in rather than sending energy outwards
The arrival of winter marks the end of the annual cycle in nature. It’s a time of retreat, which becomes renewal, which later becomes new growth the following spring. As this begins to play out in the natural world, we begin an energetic ramp up. Ramping up towards the partying of Christmas, New Year and all of the other winter holidays. So if we want to echo the natural world, how can we live seasonally in November?
While we make our festive plans, and look forward or dread the upcoming holidays, nature’s invitation still stands. On an instinctual level the draw of tuning inwards at this time remains palpable.
What is it to tune in though, and how can we integrate it into our life? Essentially it’s about creating space in your life to be non-judgmental with yourself. And allow whatever arises to be welcomed without censor. It doesn’t mean you have to act on everything you feel, or on every idea you have, the crux of tuning in is simply to acknowledge your experience fully as it is.
Check your relationship with your phone
While we could debate the pros and cons of technology, the point is rather to simply recognise that behaviour which is still relatively new. Yes phone addiction, I’m talking to you! Moving from that recognition, it’s about asking ourselves how our behaviour with technology today affects us on a human level?
Social media platforms use human psychology very effectively to keep us highly engaged. It’s usually quite surprising to see your usage statistics, all of those quick scrolls throughout the day add up.
It’s not just a time thing though, sometimes our phones are a modern-day comforter. Notice the tendency to reach for your phone in times of boredom, or in times when difficult emotions arise. At these times we can use our phones to shield us from ourselves. Instead of tuning in it can be easier to distract ourselves.
Doing this consistently makes it hard to stay connected to ourselves and to what’s arising for us. It”s difficult to notice how we feel. It’s this default of turning our attention outward that we need to be mindful of.
To balance this most of us have to set limits on how and when we use technology. Deciding what those limits are is an individual decision. You might have a cut-off time each evening. Or maybe you take a day off on Sunday? Experiment and see what works best for you and notice the impact of definite periods unplugged.
The act of writing out our experience can be therapeutic on many levels. It can be cathartic, it can helps us to slow down when anxious, it can help us to make sense of our experience. You can also try specific practices, like journaling on a specific theme such as gratitude. Some people are especially disciplined and journal daily but you can also benefit from this as a more sporadic journal keeper. See it as an accessible tool available whenever you want and need it.
Read more: The attitude of gratitude
Sometimes it’s easier to lose our inhibitions through creative activities. Often creative pursuits and spaces allow greater freedom for exploration. There is no hierarchy of activities here. Follow your natural curiosity whether it’s improv, dance, music or something completely different. If there was an activity you enjoyed in childhood see if you can reconnect with that. Notice what arises when you engage in this activity. Is there anything that surprises you about yourself? Are there aspects that make you feel good about yourself? Does it energise you?
Embrace blank space
Having blank space in your calendar is the antithesis of “busyness” culture. Ensure that you have some. To balance all the “doing” of modern life, have some time to just “be”. You can use this time to rest and restore, or maybe sometimes you’ll use it to take advantage of a last minute opportunity.
Your oxygen mask
Engage in self-inquiry and you may sometimes be accused of navel gazing. Everything in life is about balance. We are not solely seeking to focus on our relationship with ourselves, we are seeking the insight and knowledge needed to live as fully as we can. In relationship with others and the wider world. Our ability to relate to others though is intrinsically connected to our ability to relate to ourselves. If we aren’t fully attending to ourselves, and our needs, life can become difficult on many levels . So it’s back to the plane safety instructions. Fit your own oxygen mask first.
Read more: What is self care and why is it important?
Sometimes turning inwards brings up difficult emotions. Usually over time we move through these, perhaps by making changes or by coming to acceptance on some matters. If you feel vulnerable or overwhelmed in a way that’s affecting your daily life, pay attention to that and take action to get support. If you need support beyond your friends and family look at external options; support groups, workplace employee assistance programmes, counselling services in your organisation, or connect with your GP for a relevant mental health referral.
So as winter approaches take care of yourself, and embrace the opportunity of this season to tune in. Discover where you go when you go quiet.
Gráinne Conroy is a yoga and barre teacher based in Dublin. She hosts a monthly Full Moon yoga practice at The Calm Rooms in Monkstown. The next event takes place on Sunday November 10. Her regular public classes are at Oslo Health and Yoga Dublin. More information about Gráinne is available here