“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.”
― Edith Sitwell
Brrrr. This has been a cold start to what may seem like a very long winter ahead! In some parts of the world, it might feel like winter has been in full swing for months. However, the Winter Solstice, which officially marks the first day of winter, is still two days away in the Northern Hemisphere! In my post “Autumn: A Time for Letting Go,” I spoke about how fall is the season for letting go—the way a tree releases its leaves in preparation for the cold days to come. Now, I suggest that winter is a time to go within. When we go within, we connect with a quiet inner world that is waiting to warm and comfort us.
In winter, a tree appears desolate and barren from the outside, but there is a richness within and myriad processes taking place that allows the tree to survive and actually thrive in the harshest of conditions. This is what I find so amazing when I see a tree in winter: Everything it needs to survive can be found within. And the beauty is, the same is true for us.
In winter, nature calls us to take a rest. This does not mean we will have less to do, but we are reminded, with the harsh conditions, that we may have to slow down, take more care, and be more mindful and purposeful in our actions to reserve our energy and to use what we have wisely. By sitting with ourselves, in much the way a tree in winter just sits with itself, we turn inward and focus our attention on what is going on deep inside us, on what it is that gives us purpose and meaning. The nourishment that courses through our bodies, the energy that keeps our hearts beating, the light that radiates from our core—these life-giving gifts comfort and warm us even in the darkest and longest nights of the year.
With this image of nature in mind, the next time you sit down to meditate, think of yourself as a tree in winter. While the environment outside may seem harsh, know that inside of you is everything you need to remain grounded, strong, flexible, and nourished. Yes, you are out there in the world, but you are not at the mercy of its conditions. Then, release this image and just be . . . strong, beautiful, and mighty like the tree.