The winter season is providing us with a lesson we must heed. The area of Northern Illinois in which I reside, stands in winter’s hard and icy grip. Most of the vegetation appears lifeless. The trees are bare, the grass is brown, the ground is frozen, no apparent growth is occurring. To most plant-life, winter is a time of dormancy, a time of rest and recuperation. Winter’s unforgiving hold on the landscape dictates that it cease from activity and pause to restore. And, to get ready for what’s next…Spring!
There appears, to the casual observer, no evidence whatsoever of the imminent emergence of Punxsutawney Phil. This, the darkest and coldest time of the year, makes that culturally noteworthy event seem a light-year away, not just a season. Most outward appearances of growth are shut down. It’s as if Nature is beseeching its creations to stop for a while. Just stop and rest. Take a nap. Literally…chill!
Is there not a lesson here, for we humans who inhabit this marvelous planet? Perhaps Nature is providing impetus to reflect on rest and recuperation, recharging and renewal.
Imagine, if you would, a rebellious rose, which says, “Rest? Not me, I’m going full speed ahead. To hell with winter (and rest), don’t need ’em.” Fatal decision. Ridiculous as that hypothesis may be, it points out the futility of life without pause, exertion without rest, and lastly, fighting against what is.
We too need rest, respite from the grind. On the very first page of his book, Sabbath, author Wayne Muller states, “In the restless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between work and rest.” Nature hasn’t lost that rhythm, but many of us certainly have. All moving creations, whether human or machine, need maintenance and down time. To ignore that simple truth is inviting a dis-ease in one’s body that invites disease in one’s body. Slow down, relax, recharge and renew, and you’ll actually accomplish more.
Here are a few ideas on how to accomplish reasonable, healing, relaxing down-time. Don’t just say you’ll do some of these, or added ideas of your own, schedule them. Add some to your calendar.
- Meditate – 15 minutes
- Light a candle, in a darkened room, and for 15 minutes, watch it burn. Be careful here. Choose a candle and your position such that, if you doze off, all is safe.
- Take a leisurely bath
- Take a walk
- Focus on your breathing – several times throughout the day
- Write a poem
- Eat…slowly, taste what you’re consuming. Really taste it.
- Listen, not with the idea of responding, but with the idea of listening.
- Hang out with friends with no agenda other than hanging out.
- Choose a pleasurable activity that is easily done and takes little time.
Be attuned to the rhythm of your life. Just as the pauses in good music add to the experience of it, the pauses in your life will feed and nurture you. Take a hint from nature, times of rest and recuperation are necessary. Without them, you’re at risk. And while you may think the world cannot survive without you, if you don’t take care of yourself, it will prove that it can. Use the winter season as a teacher. Take time to slow down. Relax. Rest. Recharge.