What the Trees in Winter can Teach Us
At this time of the year many of the deciduous trees in your neighbourhood are bare. A tree with branches naked of its leaves possesses a tenderness and vulnerability in its energy field this time of the year, an instant reminder of our own vulnerabilities, resilience and true qualities of our soul.
During the autumn the trees began the process of storing the nutrients needed to survive the winter months. Trees understand that the season of winter is best spent focusing on renewal and taking time to replenish. The cycle of regeneration some trees go through in the winter months is a valuable lesson in how to be in relationship with our own selves during this time too.
The reduction in daylight and the increase of darkness are a nudge to turn your attention inwards and to pay greater attention to your inner life. Even though the winter brings with it harsher elements there is still much richness to be connected with during this time of year.
Winter begs us to slow down, not speed up
In nature, darkness is a period of fertility. It’s the space in which seeds grow and where incubation offers the necessary conditions for sustained growth. As we launch into the busiest shopping period of the year, winter begs us to slow down, not speed up. The stillness and presence of many naked trees scream for us humans to put the brakes on. A point echoed by radio broadcaster Robert Elms who once said in an interview on his show: “Trees look down on us and wonder why we are rushing around so much”. Like trees, we humans too require time out from our busy lives to ask ourselves important questions as we head towards the end of the year.
The winter months require detailed observations and application of the things that nourish and replenish you. What are the activities, ceremonies, rituals and questions that help ward off the depletion of energy that the winter months provokes? We could take a leaf or two from what trees have to teach us.
Start with a list in your journal or notebook or an entry in your phone or digital device of the things that nourish you, including people, foods, activities, places and experiences. Just like a tree gathers the nutrients it needs to survive the winter months, human beings need to nurture and act on their own list of restorative practices. We may not be able to fully hibernate in the way that trees and the animal kingdom do at this time of year, but there are still things that you can personally do to thrive.
Here are more suggestions about how to mirror the way of the trees in the winter months:
A long walk on a winter's day can be just the tonic to ward off the winter blues and put a smile back on your face. The cold air, the wind clipping your cheekbones, can do your face and wellbeing wonders.
Trees understand the necessity of rest. In the motions of human life winter days are a perfect backdrop for scheduling in more rest. Get cosy with those slippers and warm pajamas in the evenings. Factor in a lie in minus technology at the weekend, an afternoon or morning of free time or chill out on the sofa reading a good book or watching a movie.
Give yourself permission to bring yourself back in alignment with what is true and right for you
During the winter months trees slow down their cell growth in order to make it through. With the new year around the corner the question for this next step is: What ideas or projects are ready for incubation? List your ideas and create your own form of paper incubation
Looking inwards winter is an ideal time to check in and see how well you have done in terms of staying aligned to your own personal values and generative goals. How on track have you been this year and how off track have you found yourself? By asking and answering the questions you give yourself permission to bring yourself back in alignment with what is true and right for you.
December 21st, known as the winter solstice and marked by the shortest day and longest night, is a good time to bring this all together. By giving yourself time and space to pay attention to your inner life at this time of the year, you are positively strengthening the roots and foundations of your own self-expressed life.