There’s always so much talk at this time of year about new years resolutions and ‘new year new me’ rhetoric.
Whilst I’m all for living intentionally, right now we are deep in the outer winter. When I speak about harmonising with your cycle, that doesn’t just mean following your monthly flow but your yearly seasons too.
If we look at the powers of the inner winter of the menstrual cycle, the same themes apply to the yearly cycle. It’s a time to rest, renew and plant the seeds (metaphorically speaking, I’m not sure if gardening is the best idea this time of year but I may be wrong) for the year ahead.
Powers of the Inner Winter
Rest - Simple in theory but I hear MANY people I work with say that taking time for themselves can bring up feelings of guilt and laziness. ‘How dare I relax when there are so many things to ‘do’? things I haven’t achieved yet or so many more goals waiting for me to grab - must keep moving’. The irony is that if we don’t gift ourselves these necessary times to do nothing, our productivity suffers overall because we’ll end up burnt out during inner spring, scattered during inner summer and resentful in the inner autumn. The invitation here in winter is to at least put the brakes on even if you can’t stop altogether - your future self deserves that (your present self deserves that!).
Visioning - The more space we create for ourselves during the inner winter the more we open ourselves up to the magic within. May sound like a cliche but all the answers you seek are inside of you. If you’re always rushing and busy focusing on the external then when does your inner world have the opportunity to speak to you? (spoiler - it will make time by forcing you to slow down, usually with physical symptoms/illness). If you intentionally decide to carve out that space then you are given this beautiful opportunity to connect to your highest purpose and vision for the future. You don’t need to look outside of yourself for that vision, just get quiet and still enough to notice that’s it’s been there all along.
Renewal - With all this resting and nurturing of your inner self, the inner winter gifts us the power of renewal. Think deep nourishment for your body and soul. The winter is a time we naturally crave coziness, warmth and softness, a sense of drawing inward into a hibernation cave. There is plenty of time later in the cycle for the outward flow of energy (spring and summer I’m looking at you) so if we can honour our body’s needs here in winter it sets the tone for the rest of the year or month. Whether its the menstrual cycle, moon cycle or yearly cycle, the more you can surrender into the coziness of winter the more ease you'll create during the lighter seasons.
Intuition - In the liminal space of the inner winter we have this deep connection to our intuition. This is the part of the cycle where you have longer REM sleep so dream mapping could be a nice practice here. Take time to meditate, journal with the stream of consciousness and really connect to the ethereal parts of life. Even if you don’t consider yourself an intuitive person, it’s likely you’ve had times when you’ve met someone or walked into a room and the energy has felt off - that’s the communication of your intuition, that’s you reading energy. The more time you carve out to listen to that voice, the louder it will become. (Did I mention that resting can help with this? I sound like a broken record, but I hope you’re getting my point)
The fact is that whether we like it or not, we are cyclical beings who need periods of rest to balance out the periods of action.
If you menstruate, you have the monthly reminder to go within, the challenge is to listen to your body and make allowances for the ebb and flow. If you aren’t currently menstruating, you can align to the inner seasons using the moon cycle. I wrote a blog post about that which you can read here.
In a world filled with goals, constant activity, and an information overload, reclaiming your relationship with rest becomes a radical act. If inner winter proves challenging, reflect on the following prompts:
Nurturing Winter Rest: How do you nurture rest during winter, and what rituals enhance your connection to this introspective season?
Challenges and Understanding: What challenges arise when allowing yourself to rest in winter, and how can understanding these obstacles contribute to a more nurturing season?
Redefined Opportunities: How might you redefine winter rest as a profound opportunity for inner renewal and self-discovery?
Guiding Principles: If you were to design your perfect winter season what principles would it include, and how might they guide you towards a more enriching cycle?
Seeds of Vision: What seeds are asking to be planted during winter? Connect to your vision of the future and let it unfold onto paper
To dive into these themes more you can listen to my most recent podcast where I talk all about the Inner Winter - how to connect to the powers of this season, support yourself through your bleed if you menstruate and self care for period cramps.
I understand that dedicating extended periods to yourself during the inner or outer winter might not always be feasible due to our numerous responsibilities and unalterable commitments. However, the key lies in discovering what the 1% could look like for you. If your body is signalling the need for rest and solitude for five days, perhaps that 1% manifests as taking a bit more time to savour your warm cuppa, indulging in a salt bath, or blocking out your calendar for an afternoon.
Whatever is feels doable to you is the perfect starting point. As you deepen into the practice of attentively listening to and honouring your body's needs, you'll find that it becomes progressively easier. The 1% can transform into 2%, then 3%, and so on.
Take your time, moving with compassion for yourself. It's likely you've been shaped by a fast-paced society that often neglects the value of stillness. Reclaiming moments of restoration and renewal is a potent act, one that requires time to unfold. Be patient with yourself as you embark on this transformative journey.
If you'd like more support around harmonising with your cycle - in whatever way that looks for you - and embodying your feminine wisdom you can: