On A Winter’s Day
How to let go, give in, enjoy and be healthy and happy this winter
When the shortest day of the year leads to the longest night. When the light is wanning and gives way to darkness. The image of a snowy starlit night, winds whistling through the windows covered in frost while we sit in front of the fire in a room scented with candles and warm teas sweetened with honey, covered in wool blankets and socks, we take this time to be within and tend to the fire.
There is much that is birthed out of darkness, since without it, we would never recognize the light. And those stars that shine so brightly could only do so in a deep black sky. This has been part of many earth based traditions and spirituality since humans began their journey. It is a simple concept and a beautiful one if we can open up to it. The idea that the darkness within ourselves is usually what we need to learn true growth, so we can open up even more to the light and beauty. It takes recognizing this darkness, swimming in it and submitting to it, to really allow lessons to reveal themselves and light and radiance to emerge. Winter is a time for such reflection.
Winter is also a time when the lack of light can create seasonal blues. Many tend to withdraw and go within. This is a nature allowing us the time to have reflection and to not always be outward. Allow yourself to recognize your inner introvert rather than indulge in feelings of sadness because the sun is not shining. In Argentina, summer lasts for a very long time and this is our moment for a couple months to have stillness. Give in to it because this is nature’s gift to allow creation and growth.
A Winter Ritual
In the tradition of Winter in Chinese medicine in physical, emotional and spiritual health, we take this time to harness and save our kidney qi, not to over exert emotionally or physically. Our dreams are dreamt in the winter and the Yang energy of the summer allows for those dreams to be fulfilled. Winter is the time to set intentions.
Take a Pen + Paper – Title it “Winter’s Dreams or Intentions”
Write down 5 intentions for the coming year. Something you dream to create, someone you dream to invite into your life, something you dream and intend to change, somewhere you dream to go and something you intend to let go of.
Put this piece of paper somewhere special. And write the date you created it on top and on the Summer Solistice (December 22nd) look at it and sit with it. See where these dreams are starting to come to fruition or how they can. For now, just create this list and send it off with buena onda.
A Winter Treat
This is the time of gathering around the hearth. Creating warmth among friends. Potluck dinners and parties. The warmth of love from one another, from friends and family, helps remind us that we are surrounded by it during the colder months. So go ahead and make that dinner party you have been thinking about – lift your spirits and warm your heart.
Another lovely treat for the Winter is to create inner warmth by starting a meditation practice.
My recommendation is the following :
Create a quiet space, where you can be alone without distractions. Light some candles and incense or if you use essential oils, put them in your diffuser. Smell really helps relax the mind. In every temple I visited in India and Thailand, when someone would want to pray or meditate they would start by lighting candles and incense. Creating a small ritual begins sacred time for oneself, allowing the mind to say I am here, now and no where else. A good way to begin is by doing about 10-15 minutes of yoga. Yoga warms up the body but also is a meditation within itself and its original purpose was not to look good in yoga pants but instead to prepare for meditation.
How to meditate is a whole other blog post but in the simplest of ways – quiet the mind. Allow the thoughts to come in and out like clouds. Listen to your breath. Say a mantra out loud or in your mind or use a meditation mala. Repetition helps quiet the mind. Try for at least 10 minutes and then eventually 15 and then 30 minutes. You got this.
A Winter Meal
This is important so listen up. No salads, no smoothies and no juices in Winter. Nada. There is millennium of medicinal thought behind this. Enough so that it is ingrained in Asian society and any traditional culture for that matter. Did you grandma eat salad for dinner or a green juice? No. In winter time it is ALL about warmth, warmth, warmth. Soup, stew, steamed greens, roasts.
This effects everything from weight loss, to fertility, to aging and everything in between.
Here is a recipe for my bone broth soup. It is good for everything from your immune system, to improving skin, hair, etc to balancing hormones, gut health, fights inflammation. You can use the bone broth to cook other things like rice or quinoa, or to incorporate into sauces.
Bone Broth and a Hearty Soup
Part 1: The Bone Broth
- Stash your roasted bones. Every time I roast or cook chicken, I save the bones and in my freezer. Roasted bones allow for the mineral breakdown of the bones.
- Take your bones, chop an onion and fill up a large soup pot of water. Throw everything, plus a dash of salt into the pot. Cook for at least 6 hrs. I try to cook mine for about 10 if I am home all day.
- After it is cooked – strain everything. Sometime I do this in 2 days. Cook it all and at night before I go to bed, turn it off and let it cool and then put it in the fridge. Heat it up the next day so it liquifys and strain it.
Part 2: The Hearty Soup
- Veggies of choice – I love squash, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, celery and also some greens which I add at the end.
- spices of choice – I use a lot of curry, coriander, cumin and sometimes ginger
- herbs – cilantro, green onions, fresh oregano, dill – get creative
- a couple chicken legs
- Take your amazing bone broth, add a cup or 2 of water and put in the chicken legs, sometimes I will brown them in a seperate pan in butter and curry. Throw in whatever spices you love.
- Chop all of the veggies and add them to soup – root veggies first and then after the soup cooks for another 1.5 -2 hrs. Make sure to add water if it needs it and cook the soup on a lower flame. Add greens in the last 5 minutes and the herbs in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Salt to taste.
To a Happy + Healthy Winter!!
Lauren Dulberg is the Owner and Doctora of Chinese Medicine at Acupuncture Buenos Aires and mother of two little beautiful boys living la vida loca in Baires.
Note: the feature photo is not the property of MyBeautifulAir. The photo was taken at the Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve by instagrammer @carzoz – Buenos Aires’ best attempt at ‘winter’.