Even as I sit to write this, on the first quiet afternoon I’ve had in over 4 weeks, I can feel my shoulders descending a notch. It’s ‘Winter Proper’ now – much colder, crisper, darker… and there’s been never-ending talk of hygge, comfort, self-care… these conversations warm the heart, because they put us all in the same boat – seeking out a bit of extra ‘cosy’, optimism, levity, when at these darker times of year, it may feel a bit less forthcoming.
That the children have both had a poorly week, and sleep has been thinnest on the ground, compounds it all, but having taken this step back, it’s so lovely to return to the blog – a place conceived to be nothing other than a lifter of spirits and celebrator of the good, simple life – and reach for some new ideas, a way to share with you, the faithful reader, and move forward into this last two months of the year.
I’d like to share a note on self-care here, as often as I can, in the hope that it will spur all of you on to take those moments away from the busy-ness of the day (and trust me, I know how hard that can be – as of this morning, I had gone four whole days without a bath!) – and toward some moment of light, when we can see real glorious life, in all of its loving possibility, once more (and stop getting so tangled up in the unpredictable knocks on our spirits).
In Autumn, I sat with my favourite books, and read up on how I might shift my mood, mind and body towards the light. Ayurveda celebrates Autumn – and that’s the best place to start. It’s a time to really reflect – our energy naturally looks inward, as we sense the end of the year on the horizon, and look to make sense of what led us to this point. It’s a time of spiritual cleansing – as well as bodily – and our vata energy is raised, sending much of presence up to our minds – we’re less grounded, and far more thoughtful, less resilient, and more prone to self-doubt… so, how to combat this?
With lots and lots of slow, grounding, warming activity and energy. Seek out warming spice in all of your food – delicious nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, star anise – add to nut milk, porridge, make chai – and bolster your savoury food (from our failsafe Lentil Tagine to our Dal Makhani) with nigella seeds, ghee, ginger, chillies…
Turn to, to more warming and dynamic forms of yoga, that also have a wonderful grounding power – there’s a beautiful and completely free 30-day yoga course available online at Psychologies magazine (https://lifelabs.psychologies.co.uk/courses/101) and it’s a truly wonderful place to start. Being able to practice something form the comfort of one’s own home only increases our groundedness in Autumn and Winter, so do try and take advantage if you can.
And one of Autumn’s happiest gifts, is its fiery flurry of colour – a poetic nod from Ayurveda, which tells us that the season naturally produces what we most need, when we most need it – in this case, a canopy of warming, healing, soul-bolstering colour, to ground and support us, when we may feel a little bit shaky. Take full advantage – wrap up in your warmest layers of cotton and wool, pull on your softest and cosiest bed socks, and step into your wellies for a bracing stride through your local park or woodland. Having spent the entire day wrapped in a blanket, by the open fire at home, my body is now craving fresh air and autumnal colour – and I’ve resolved to take the whole family out for a post-breakfast stroll tomorrow. There’s nothing as refreshing to the floundering spirit as a flurry of colour, and fresh air.