Happy New Year, friends! I hope you’ve had a good start to 2021, I know we all need it! Every January, I feel the promise of a new year and that feeling of a fresh start. This January in particular I feel hopeful and inspired that positive changes can be made and are coming our way. I sense a major shift...A shift toward compassion and community. Toward mindfulness. Toward slowing down, or at the very least, wanting to slow down.
Do you feel this way too?
Whether we personally see evidence of a lifestyle shift or not, I believe that we must be the positive change we want to see in the world...Reconnecting with ourselves and others so we feel full. Resting well to nourish our body and mind. Seeking stillness in a world that’s constantly throwing obstacles our way.
THE YIN SEASON
In Chinese philosophy yin represents the wet, dark, cold, quiet and slow. Winter is the yin season. Even here in Athens, the days have been short, the nights long, and the air brisk. The winter season was designed by nature for resting and conserving energy. You only have to look at animals to see how it’s done.
Why should it be any different for us? We’ve been provided the ideal environment for cozying up with a book by the fire, reconnecting with ourselves and our families, going to bed earlier, and feeling deeply rested.
So instead of piling up New Year’s goals (that we’re in a rush to achieve), or diving into decluttering, what if we took January and February to just relax?
Or better yet, to relax and be okay with it?
RELAX & RECONNECT
Okay, finding time to relax is easier said than done, right? I’m right there with you.
I would really love to tell you that I have been spending my January meditating by the fire, recovering with slow evenings, trying out new recipes that take all afternoon, or journaling about the upcoming year.
But I have to be transparent with you and say that these relaxing, mindful activities, well…as much as I want them, they simply aren’t fitting into my life right now. Life doesn’t always slow down just because we want it to.
What I realized is that even among the chaos, I still have the power to embrace this season of yin, just in a different way...
PHYSICAL VS MENTAL STILLNESS
If you’re in a situation where you can take time to slow down, clear your mind, relax, and reconnect with yourself, by all means, DO IT. For me, finding physical stillness in this season is very difficult, if not impossible.
Instead, and maybe even because of the physical upheaval, I’ve discovered a different kind of peace: mental stillness.
As everything moves and makes noise around me, I can distance myself from feeling the chaos internally. Instead, I find quiet in the details:
- I notice the oversized windows and how they connect our family to our natural surroundings.
- I bring flowers into the home. Having beautiful arrangements inside during these dormant winter months brings a sense of freshness and are a joy to look at.
- I enjoy seeing birds at the feeders while I cook dinner, and spend what time I can admiring our newest home addition - a koi pond.
- I feel gratitude that we’re working towards a lifestyle designed for mindfulness and connection.
- I feel thankful that I can have these moments at home with my family, despite the stress of the world. (And thankful that I finished renovations just in time to spend most of 2020 at home!)
In awareness and gratitude, I find what calm I can. And for now, it’s enough. I hope that you too can find moments of stillness and peace as we continue into the new year.