Slow Down: Embrace the Changing Seasons

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Article by Leslie Larsen, LCSW

image of holiday relaxing by a fireWhen you’re busy juggling work and family, a social life, and countless other things, it’s easy to let the seasons slip away. Taking time to stop and smell the roses (or in this case, the mulled cider) is important for both your mental and physical health.

Indulge Your Desire to Hibernate
As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, you might find yourself wanting to curl up with a good book and a cozy blanket. I say, do it! Set aside some time each week (or day) and cuddle in front of a fire or snuggle into bed with your favorite book and cup of hot chocolate.

During fall and winter seasons we are surrounded by more hours of darkness, so allow yourself the gift of quiet to turn inward and simply let yourself be. Perhaps create a special space in your home – bring a blanket, peaceful music, relaxing scents, and anything else that makes you feel comfortable. Create the time and space to quiet your mind and turn your awareness inward.  Allow yourself a release from outside influences, expectations, schedules and struggles by accepting your own gift of a few moments to purely let go of everything.

When you let yourself settle, you invite a certain peacefulness to come to life. In this space your mind can slow down, your breath can naturally flow, and your body can be restored and balanced. When you turn inward you can discover a space of peace and love; a space where there is no time, no boundaries, no expectations to be achieved.

Creating opportunities to feel into the present moment offers you a place to listen and hear guidance, to accept everything just the way it is, to simply be. From this place, you can embody your authentic, natural Self.

Need help and guidance in this practice?
Perhaps use a guided mediation, or attend a restorative yoga session at the local yoga studio. Below is the script for a short affectionate breathing mediation:

Begin by finding a posture in which your body is comfortable and feels supported. Let your eyes gently close, partially. Take a few slow, easy breaths releasing any unnecessary tension in your body. If you like, place a hand over your heart or another soothing place as a reminder that we’re bringing not only awareness, but affectionate awareness, to our breathing and ourselves.
Now begin to notice your breathing, feel your body breathe in and feel your body breathe out. Just let your body breathe you. There is nothing you need to do. Perhaps notice how your body is nourished on the in-breath and relaxes on the out-breath. Now notice the rhythm of your breathing, flowing in and flowing out. Pause, take some time to feel the natural rhythm of your breathing. Feel your whole body subtly moving with the breath, like the movement of the sea.
Your mind will naturally wander like a curious child or a little puppy. When that happens, just gently return to the rhythm of your breathing. Allow your whole body to be gently rocked and caressed by your breath. If you like, give yourself over to your breathing; let your breathing be all there is. Becoming the breath. Just breathe.
And now, gently release your attention to the breath, sitting quietly in your own experience, and allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling. Be just as you are. Thank yourself for your practice. Slowly and gently opening your eyes and returning to the room. (Adapted from a script by Chris Germer)