Winter solstice has passed and we are finally climbing out of our journey into progressively shorter days (and of course, by that I mean fewer hours of sunlight). As we moved into the darker days of the winter, we may have noticed that it was more difficult to wake up or feel energized. We felt like hibernating under the covers in our beds or staying warm at home with warm foods, saving our energy.
However, the busy external world does not stop to note our bodies’ needs for energy conserving activities or activities that would counteract the dullness building up inside. For example, I noticed how important it became for me to go to bed earlier, practice breathwork, and swim regularly. But if we don’t stop to listen to our bodies, our work, school, and success-oriented, result-oriented mindsets will never allow us to notice the changes going on in our internal worlds. How do we feel with less sunlight and darker mornings and afternoons? What parts of us feel emptier with less heat and increasingly cooler winds? Do we notice our cravings for certain foods rising or falling?
There is a useful tool that can be used to get in touch with our inner clock, which reflects the clock of Nature, not that of busy ever-changing economic and social landscapes. It is called walking meditation. In this meditation we consciously observe every movement of our bodies as we walk on green grounds or barefoot on the floor. As you begin to walk, whether it be in a pattern (i.e., around your home in a circle again and again) or without any predetermined pathway (allowing yourself to follow your intuition), notice the pressure of your feet and the various points of your feet on the ground and the weight of your body flowing through your hips, into your knees, and eventually onto your feet. Observe the flow of your arms. If your mind wanders, use a mantra that matches your movement as you place your feet down: “Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, …”
If you tend to get obsessed with perfection of movements, you may choose to not pay attention to your body’s movements. Instead, you may choose to look around and take in all the sights you observe through the visual field, all the sounds you hear, and the scents you smell.
In setting the intention to observe yourself (or your senses) as you walk and move slowly, you give yourself the opportunity to get back in touch with yourself and determine what you may need in this moment. I am not referring to needs of buying a new outfit, table, or bag. I am referring to the need to perhaps get more sleep, spend less time on the screen if your mind is jumping around, or meet with a friend without tech devices that steal your attention away from conversations and bonding moments. Something I realize is that I sometimes find the need to just turn off my cell phone, laptop, and lights and just sit in natural light in silence, taking in what exists around me in my home. You may be surprised how much you don’t notice until you stop to do so!
Note: I know some of our readers are in the Southern Hemisphere, so some of this will be more directly applicable in about half a year :D! Walking meditation is of course something you can do anytime of the year.