Winter Wonder: 8 Steps to Holiday Recovery

Replenishing after winter holidays

Vacations can be exhausting! Many of us often feel depleted after the holidays with family and friends. And while January is historically the month for New Year’s resolutions and fresh starts, many people feel like they need a vacation from their vacation.

Have you ever needed to go on retreat after the madness of the holidays? 

In Easter medicine it is said that staying attuned to the energy of the seasons is an important key to good health. Winter is the time to take it easy, eat warm foods, be contemplative, and relish stillness by slowing down. Even though right now in California it feels like summer, the energy of winter is dark, cold, inward and quiet. It’s the period of gestation for our dormant life energy. This is why trees lose their leaves and save their life-force to come bursting through in spring, animals hibernate or sleep more, and we humans take time off from work to presumably to slow down and have time to be with ourselves and loved ones.

But realistically, what do we do instead? Shop, shop and shop some more. Party, party – eating and drinking till our bellies are bursting. We fly, drive and go all over the place to see family and friends who often trigger all kinds of reactions in us which can be tiring and depleting. It seems clear that among many other things, culturally, we are vastly distant from being in tune with the energetic qualities of winter.

Right now, when our vitality, passion, life energy and enthusiasm are supposed to be brewing to be fully expressed in the spring- like the trees ready to bloom – instead, we are running around exhausting ourselves! So, in what remains of this season (and hopefully for the rest of the year) I invite you to cultivate slowness and notice what nourishes your body mind and spirit.

By making the intention to stay attuned to the energy of the seasons as the year unfolds, right now we can take full advantage of the quietude and stillness of winter. Here are some ideas for replenishing and attuning:

1. Notice Nature. Go for walks outside and notice the changes in the light and the plants.

2. Shop Seasonally. Go to the local San Francisco farmers markets and buy what is growing seasonally.

3. Cultivate Community. Cook something yummy and nourishing with what you bought, having your friends over to share the goodness.

4. Create Coziness. Slow down, take a candle-lit bath with essential oils, be still and relax.

5. Trade Touch. Trade massage with your close friend or lover, or call your favorite healing bodywork massage therapist to make an appointment.

6. Take Time. Sit by the fire with your favorite book while sipping tea or hot chocolate.

7. Commit to Contemplation. Write in your journal about what’s up in your inner realms.

8. Move Mindfully. Walk, take a yoga class, breathe deeply… relish your embodiment.

Happy replenishing!

This blog uses an image which is released as part of the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license.

Why Technology Might Be Ruining Your Life

On our recent journey back to the Bay Area from our holiday vacation, I made a sad discovery.  It was an incredibly early flight- the kind in which you find yourself continually fantasizing about being in your warm bed instead. But rather than being cozy, sleepy, dreamy and present in these wee hours, I noticed that probably more that 70% of our fellow airplane travelers were looking at the screen of their smart phones, tablets, computers etc. And then I thought about it. This not only happens in airports and airplanes but everywhere I go!  How many people at any given time and place are plugged into their iphones, ipads, kindles and laptops? The gym, the grocery store- it’s everywhere!  It’s the way our culture is now, especially in Oakland and Berkeley.

I am aware that we need to engage with all these things in order to smoothly operate in society. It’s an easy and convenient way to communicate with work colleagues and loved ones alike. But for too many of us, technology becomes an incredible time-suck- an alienation from the ‘real’ world and real people. It’s an easy way to dissociate from our life, a perfect way to kill time rather than live time, a fake way to feel connected, and the best way to bypass our essential and precious human solitude.

I understand the irony, given that you are probably reading this on your computer. Here I am writing a blog, sending emails for hours on end, and wanting as many likes as possible on my Facebook page.  And yet, I am one of those people that resists technology ’till the very end, (if you could see my prehistoric phone you would know what mean!) I have always resented having to be plugged in all the time which is one of the main reasons why my chosen profession is healing bodywork.  This work keeps me present, tuned in to myself and others and makes me feel like my healing touch is making a positive impact.

To my own relief, I recently I learned that in 2009 the Unplugging Movement was born in San Francisco.  No wonder I live here- sign me up!  Well, actually, I have been one of them all along!  The movement began with families wanting to deliberately stay away from social media and technological devices to slow down their lives thereby having more time for creativity, time to be out doors, cook meals with friends, play with the kids and connect with actual human beings. To this list I personally have to add:  going to yoga class, and of course, regular therapeutic massage. Being touched is a wonderful way to be present. (And touch screens don’t count!)

In other words, what the unpluggers are trying to do is reclaim their lives, from cyberspace back to planet Earth and back to their hearts and bodies.  I invite you to dedicate some time this week to consciously creating an unplugging ritual. Take some deliberate time away from email, Facebook, your phone, your online calendar and your twitter account. Stop texting, stop posting and start breathing, stretching and singing.  Come back from the cyber-universe, from being crouched over your computer and gone, to your own embodied, breath-full, pulsing, loving self. Trust me, your body will thank you!