In many parts of the world, winter is an auspicious time as we find ourselves deep in the darkness of the longest nights of the year, and the daylight hours begin to increase with the winter solstice. We can honor and appreciate winter as representative of a much-needed fallow time to nourish ourselves and plant seeds for our re-emergence in the spring.
Anyone going through a hard time can remember the proverb “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” The most productive way to experience December is to give in to the darkness by allowing ourselves to experience more peace, introspection, and rest as we prepare to embark on a new year of life.
How will you plant seeds for what you want to see blossom in the spring? Practices like meditation, vision boarding, and learning from inspirational authors and teachers have the benefits of supporting you while creating the space for your own intuition and insights to bear fruit in the new year.
For Self-Awareness: Meditation on Who Am I?
One of the meditations that Deepak Chopra is well-known for is the way he guides the “Who Am I?” meditation.
This beautiful and poignant meditation starts by bringing to our awareness the identities we have toward the outside world in our everyday life and relationships. We notice who we are as a parent, child, sibling, friend, lover, colleague, etc.
As we sit longer with this question, repeatedly asking “Who am I?”, we start to recognize the subtle aspects of who we truly are as energetic beings and as pure awareness.
In this type of meditation, as in all types, there is nothing to force or push. There’s no special effort to make in order to have an experience. On the contrary, relaxation of the mind and body leads to the experience of subtle levels of existence.
Often when Chopra offers this meditation, the last question he guides the participants to ask themselves is, “Who is the one asking the questions?” This leans on the quandary that there is one aspect of us asking and another aspect of us answering. For greater self-awareness, in this one-minute video, Chopra explains the revelations in Who Am I?
For Clarity of Purpose: Vision Boards
Paulo Coelho, the best-selling novelist known for The Alchemist, shares a beautiful metaphor for getting clear about what we want and going for it. He invokes the metaphor of an archer in which the arrow represents an intention that unites the strength of the bow with the target. In the same way, our own intentions unite the strength of our energy, our very being, with the goals we have on our heart and mind. It’s important to get clear on what we truly are wanting, Paulo Coelho explains in this clip from an interview with Oprah.
Bringing our intentions into our consciousness with clarity can be a challenge. We can feel foggy about what we want, ambivalent about if we really want what we think we do, and impatient toward our goals. Once we have clarity on what we truly want, then aiming our intention and acting on it with positive intent and wise steps comes next. However, it is unwise to act before we feel clear in our intentions.
For people who aren’t clear on what they want, planning to do a vision board can help. Through browsing images and getting clear before choosing which images to put on the board, the act of creating the vision board produces clarity.
Once you have created the board, look at it for a few moments each day to help keep the goals, and the positive feelings they evoke, in the forefront of your mind.
Creating a Vision Board
- Gather a bunch of old magazines or use internet searches for images that light you up. Choose images that fit your highest aspirations for what you want next in life and that make you feel good when you see them. Do not play small with your visions. Even if they feel too big or out of reach, get the images. That’s exactly what this exercise is for, and in time you could see your biggest dreams become reality.
- Once you have spent a couple of hours gathering your inspirational images, arrange them like a collage on a piece of cardstock, cardboard, or another firm type of paper. Glue them into place.
- Place this vision board somewhere where you can see it easily. Spend a few moments each day looking at the board and evoking those good feelings that your visions inspire in you.
- Take little steps each day toward those goals, and keep an open mind as new opportunities come your way.
- Be patient. Sometimes it takes time for us to reach our goals because there are steps that have to come first and there are ways we have to grow before we can handle what we want. Notice the growth opportunities that come your way, and be grateful they are here to help you level up.
For Personal Growth: Books, Podcasts, and Workshops
We all know that feeling when we read or listen to a book, hear a podcast, or attend a workshop that supports us in the exact way we need to keep taking the next steps in life. It is easy to feel like we don’t have time to prioritize that kind of inspiration even though we know it is essential for our personal growth. Especially when we want to take a big leap, listening to others who have gone there before reminds us of what’s possible.
The company we keep has a direct impact on our life and our health. Who we spend time with influences our beliefs, behaviors, and actions. When we are intentional about surrounding ourselves with those who inspire us, we have an easier time creating the life we desire and, in turn, giving back to others.
This article in Insider, “The 22 Best Self-Help Books According to Goodreads Members” lists many books that are perfect to read during these dark months. You probably already have read some of them. Choose those that speak to you at this specific moment in your life. While the nights are long, take your time digesting the content, letting it sink in, and allowing new ideas to rise to the surface.
The winter nights won’t seem long when you support yourself in these ways and remember that nature makes space for cocooning right before transformation.
Anchor yourself this season with balancing Ayurvedic practices that support a healthy mind, body, and spirit with Winter Holiday, a four-part program with Dr. Sheila Patel, available now in the Chopra App.