Winter marks another completion around the sun—a perfect occasion to contemplate what’s most important to us.
When the weather gets cold, I hear many people bemoaning the short days and long nights as they pine for summertime. Not me! I love the wisdom of winter.
Enchanting Magic, Sparkling Snow
My embrace of the winter season began when I was a young girl living in Brooklyn. As soon as temperatures dropped to freezing, my dad would take me and my sister to the skating rink in Prospect Park, where I would glide around the ice to music, feeling gloriously free and graceful, surrounded by the enchanting magic of sparkling white snow.
After spending my high school years in the concrete of Manhattan, followed by countless hours inside classrooms and libraries earning a college degree, I was overjoyed to move to a farm in California. Most of the year, my husband and I worked hard from sunrise to sunset caring for our crops. Come winter, we were deeply grateful for a season that allowed us to sleep in and have enough time to bake bread, read books, and watch movies. Just like our fruit trees and heirloom raspberry bushes, we needed to rest up for the energy burst of spring.
The Wisdom of Winter Starts with Seasonal Energy
Hilary Nicholls, a powerful energy healer who leads nature-based guided meditations, explains that for humans to flourish emotionally, physically, and spiritually—especially in this modern world where so many of us are tethered to technology day and night—we need to feel our perennial connection with Mother Earth. This includes engaging with the rhythms and energies of her seasonal cycles.
“Every season offers its special wisdom. Winter brings the opportunity to slow down and turn inward, beckoning us to come back to ourselves,” Nicholls observes. “It is also a time of letting go, and an invitation to deeply listen to our bodies and nurture ourselves with extra love and kindness.”
Nicholls believes that some of us turn away from winter because in the quiet of this season we often encounter a buildup of emotions that we didn’t take time to acknowledge and process throughout the year. “If we don’t allow ourselves to see and feel the darkness we carry within, we can project those feelings onto winter. It’s important to make space for our feelings—to listen to and learn from what they are telling us. Then we can begin to let go of what we’ve been carrying around so that we’re able to fill up with more of what we truly want.”
Nicholls advises clients to place one hand on their heart and the other on their belly, then breathe deeply as they tune in to their feelings. “Take in a big breath of fresh, crisp air. Hold it at the top of the inhale for a moment. When you exhale, let your breath out slowly and fully, consciously discharging what’s ready to be released. Feel into the still point of these pauses, both at the top of your inhale and at the bottom of your exhale. This is where you can experience sacred silence and come into the present moment.”
The Wisdom of Winter: Investigation & Reconnection
Just like pruning dormant trees removes damaged branches and overcrowding to yield a healthy, bountiful crop in the coming season, winter can summon us to focus on our priorities so that we can deliberately create a more peaceful and meaningful life. “In the silence of winter,” Nicholls says, “we are invited to evaluate how we want to use our precious life force. Take the time to look inside your heart. It’s your heart that carries the instructions from your soul and always knows what you most desire in life—what you most deeply wish to experience and to share. What we love most should inform what we do and how we do it. Winter is a perfect time for investigation and reconnection.”
Nicholls advises asking ourselves the following questions. If you are drawn to writing, she encourages you to journal your answers:
- What warms my heart? What do I treasure most?
- What are my core values and highest priorities?
- Am I honoring, caring for, and nurturing myself emotionally, physically and spiritually?
- In my deepest silence, what messages does my heart have for me?
Remembering the Winters of Our Childhood
Most of us, as we get older, begin to disconnect from nature as well as from our inner child. We can get serious and disillusioned, less open to magical experiences. To bring more lighthearted joy and ease into our lives, Nicholls suggests that we spend time reminiscing about our happiest winter memories from our youth—such as sledding with friends, letting snowflakes melt on our tongue, or sipping hot chocolate by a fire as we get toasty warm after coming in from the cold—and then ponder the following questions:
- How can I return to viewing the world with childlike wonder?
- Have I been taking enough time to play, laugh, and simply have carefree fun?
- What experiences can I bring in that will give me joy?
- · Who can I share these experiences with?
Winter wisdom encourages us to focus on rest and restoration, which ultimately supports our creativity and productivity. “All regeneration, healing, and renewal happen in the deepest place of peace,” Nicholls explains. “That’s why sleep, meditation, deep contemplation or prayer are so important. Our place of peace inside is sacred. It is our very essence, and also the essence of nature. When you go deeply within, it is not isolating, you are not an island. Rather, that is where we find connection—the unity consciousness that joins all of us in oneness. Our true purpose is to embody what comes from that essence, and the best place to find it is in stillness and silence.”
Tune in to the wisdom of winter with Hilary Nicholls’ 10-minute guided meditation.