Winter is coming!
Instead of cursing the cold, I have come up with some ways that we can light our inner candle and cozy up. I have organized it by chakras to go with a chakra-based mudra meditation (Check back for a link to the recording).
This post is also inspired by the magic of HYGGE! What is hygge? In short, I think of it as cozy pastimes, but it goes much deeper than that. Here is a longer article if you want to know more:
Years ago I was worried I was somehow unwell because I had this urge to spend a lot of time at home, but then I realized, I was ENJOING it! I was busy working a lot and wanted to spend my free time at home, snuggled up enjoying my home like a cozy nest.
Here are my best tips for enjoying the winter in your nest. Best wishes for a hygge season! 🙂
WARNING! This is a long post! There is no need to read it all or tackle every suggestion. You can pick and choose as you go and see what sticks with you 🙂 As my mom says, it does not matter what you do. What matters is how you view the activity. So let’s put on our hygge glasses and get down to it!
The root chakra loves feeling safe and secure. It’s time to plan ahead for winter! Stock the pantry in case of a snowstorm, buy a case of emergency water, get snow tires , put the number for a tow truck company on speed dial and find your winter boots, shovel and parka before you need them!
A fun indoor/outdoor activity is to preserve food for the winter! Harvest and put the garden to sleep. Then get going drying herbs and canning foods. Years ago I asked for a food dehydrator for my birthday (yes that’s an exciting night at my house). And use it to make apple chips when apples are for sale cheaply. Bonus: it makes the house smell fantastic!
When I think root chakra, I think blankets and cushions! The same way we would give kids nap time, give yourself some quiet time each day to feel safe, secure and rested. This pairs well with a good book or other light-hearted entertainment.
The root chakra also governs elimination. Make sure to do some movement each morning to encourage digestion and be sure to get enough fibre and hydration (see next step).
The sacral chakra loves the element of water! Grab a humidifier or put a pot of water on the stove to add moisture to the dry winter air. Enjoy a warm bath, eat soup and drink tea to stay warm and hydrated. We tend to associate dehydration with the summer, but it happens just as easily in the winter.
The sacral chakra also loves to enjoy things so crank your favourite music and plan ahead to enjoy your favourite winter hobbies. It may sound silly, but start filling your calendar now! Call a friend and book a date for a fun activity. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. One of my personal favourites is to talk on the phone with an old friend and organize the house when I’m stuck inside on a snow day.
Other enjoyable hygge activities include reading, knitting, arts and crafts, photography, cooking, baking, scrapbooking.
Solar Plexus Chakra
The solar plexus chakra governs FIRE! Let’s keep it cozy by putting battery-powered candles or twinkle lights around the home. Lighting goes a long way to change the mood of a home. Flip on bright lights in the morning and go for a warm glow after dinner.
We can also use the winter to stoke our digestive fire. Running a slow-cooker over night can add some heat to the house and is a wonderful smell to wake up to. I recently heard someone saying he would set the bread maker before bed so that the smell of fresh break would wake him up a few minutes before his alarm clock.
Spices can also help to warm from the inside. Spicy food is an easy go-to, or try adding the following to tea or cooking: cayenne, ginger, lemon, black pepper, cinnamon.
Golden Milk recipes are easy to follow, but personally I add a little cayenne to increase my internal temperature: https://foolproofliving.com/turmeric-golden-milk/
What could possibly be more cozy than a warm embrace? If you love hugs, this is the season for you! I’m not a big hugger, but never miss an opportunity to hug any pets I meet or to swaddle myself with my electric blanket.
If you are not a hugger, aim for activities that help you to achieve a similar inner glow. The practice of applying warm oil is an ancient tradition that can be used daily before or after getting in to the shower. https://www.healthline.com/health/abhyanga-massage
The heart chakra also loves elements from nature. Indoor plants, fake plants, images of trees or water all send the message to the nervous system to feel comfortable and relaxed. I used to love to leave a scenery video playing while I worked on other tasks. My personal favourite is the Maldives, but there are a zillion videos like this on YouTube:https://youtu.be/xekAeGgo_kk
The heart chakra also loves CARDIO! Sorry, I hate to be the one to tell you that you have to resist the urge to lie on the couch all day. Fortunately, getting your heart rate up or breaking a sweat boost your mood! As little as 3 minutes of movement has been shown to improve mood and levels of enjoyment throughout the day. Again, it does not have to be anything fancy! Walk, stretch, put on some music and dance while you wait for your coffee to brew.
Low on energy? You could also try power-posing! Pose like a superhero (chest lifted, hands on hips) for a minute or two. Another option is to interlace your hands behind your head for an added stretch. You can also look upwards or out a window. This can boost energy, mood, optimism and confidence. Check out power posing: https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_may_shape_who_you_are?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare and a more recent update: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimelsesser/2018/04/03/power-posing-is-back-amy-cuddy-successfully-refutes-criticism/?sh=6ee4c1443b8e
Another great low-energy technique that works any time of day is heart-focused breathing. Simply put, take deep breaths and focus on the area around heart centre. Notice the expansion of your ribcage and sense the beating of your heart. This can be done in any position and can even be used as an in-the-moment meditation at any time you feel stressed or disconnected. A fan-favourite add-on is to place one hand on the chest and one on the belly to be more connected with the breath. If it makes sense to do so, you can close your eyes. Here’s a script and guided audio by Kelly McGonigal https://www.ideafit.com/mind-body-recovery/heart-opening-breathing-practice/
Let’s awaken our senses with the throat chakra! I LOVE cozy, winter essential oil blends. NOW makes seasonal ones like “Woodland Walk” and “Candy Cane.” Thieves oil has a warm, spicey feel. I love orange and clove because it reminds me of putting cloves in clementine as a child (I highly recommend that, too).
Steam! You know when you’re sick and you hover over a bowl of steamy water to loosen up stuffy sinuses? This is also sensory treat on a day when you’re not feeling stuffed up. Of course, please be safe around hot water!
Licorice tea is a wonderful treat for the throat.
Be aware of the balance in your life between listening, talking and silence. Winter can be a lonely, quiet time and we try to fill the void by turning on the TV and engaging in behaviours that don’t truly serve our health. My go-to move is to read a book while listening to a podcast because I like to have friendly, warm conversation going on around me. But if I’m truly honest with myself, I know I’m not getting the benefit of either activity. Instead, try a listening meditation or ASMR-type listening like the fireplace channel.
To listen to yourself, try journal prompts or a bullet journal.
Zoom remains popular for obvious reasons, but one hidden benefit I like is that in order to have a successful call, you have to be very good at taking turns in a conversation. I highly recommend this skill in all forms of communication because it allows for a better process of connection. Consider: how often do you interrupt? How often are you being interrupted? Do you tend to monopolize the conversation? Or do you feel trampled like you never get a chance to speak?
Having conversations that create a deeper level of connection are tough and take hard work from everyone involved but can be so rewarding!
Third Eye Chakra
The gift of the third eye chakra is planning!! Sorry, I’m a planner. I LOVE planning. But how can planning be hygge?
First of all, be sure to plan ahead for the winter. Don’t wait until February to see if the stores are still selling skis. Make a list of what you want to do this winter and put it in your planner NOW. I have a stack of unread books piled up somewhere I will see them every day because I plan on reading them on days when I’m stuck inside. I have a list of friends who have a hard time during the winter so I remember to check in with them. It might sound silly, but I even start booking casual social dates long in advance because once the days get short, cold and snowy all inspiration to do anything seems to evaporate. Failure to plan is planning to fail so be sure to envision the sort of winter you would like to have before the first flakes fall. Once again, it doesn’t have to be fancy! I asked a friend if she wants to have brunch some time in December when things get lonely. That’s enough of a plan to make sure that something happens.
What could be more hygge than candles? Try mindful candle-gazing as a great way to wind down before bed. And yes, the fireplace channel or a YouTube video of a candle burning will work as a stand-in here. Electric candles are a safe alternative and pair well with essential oil instead of burning a scented candle.
This is the home of connection to something greater than ourselves. A gratitude journal works as a way to acknowledge things that come in to your life from your community. One of the problems with gratitude practice is that it becomes a boring, rote, robotic thing that we just do to check it off the list. Another option I heard lately is to mentally note in your mind “Delights.” So when you see something during the day that is delightful, interesting, cute, funny or otherwise enjoyable, mentally take note. This allows us to expand our awareness outside ourselves to the greater community that we live in. The crown chakra is all about connecting to the world, the universe and the forces that are “out there” that may bring goodness in to our lives. An affirmation for the crown chakra I once heard is, “There is a benevolent force in the universe”. The old classic is simply cunting your blessings.
Why not send cards? Not Christmas cards or even physical cards, but take a few minutes to write a note to a friend to keep the connection going. If you, like many people, were ever given stationary or scrapbooking stuff that you never ended up using, how about use it now to send cards for no reason. January seems like the perfect time to me because we get that sad holiday hangover with very few events to catch us and lift our spirits.
Awaken your crown chakra with oil massage! Sesame is commonly used, but any old beauty oil or olive oil will work. Different oils will react differently with your hair. I find some make my hair more static in the dry winter air, but apricot seems to be okay. In a pinch it can be done with water, with nothing, or even in the shower. It’s exactly as it sounds. Massage the crown on the head with oil and give yourself an at-home spa. Or, make a date with a friend (remember the 3rd eye chakra loves planning) and do it together in person or virtually. https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/health/ayurveda/thats-using-head/