Rituals for Living with Nature in Winter

 
Rituals for living with nature in Winter | A guide by The Foraged Life

There is a beautiful irony in winter being the harshest of all the seasons; these cold, more lifeless months beg us to craft rituals that balance its patterns. Think warmth, cosiness and self love. Sounds good doesn't it? I think so! Winter is swiftly becoming one of my most loved seasons, if not for the self-love then for the 'go slow' pace it demands. Given that, while winter isn't officially here yet (the solstice is on the 21st of December), the chill that Mother Nature has bought upon us certainly makes it feel like it is. So I thought it about time to reflect on how we can best live with nature in the harshest of all the seasons, with these ideas for winter rituals. 

 

1. Breathe deeply & meditate

Much of the wildlife we have glimpses of in the other seasons seem to disappear altogether in Winter. This is partly true- they may have burrowed into the ground, be hiding in the bottom of your pond or in a rotting log to hibernate. Hibernation is a brilliantly clever process that helps them to conserve energy and avoid winter's harshness. To do it, the heart rate of creatures that hibernate will severely drop and they'll adopt a new breathing pattern that is beyond slow. As such I suggest we mimic this throughout winter too! Why not start and end each day with five/ten/fifteen minutes (whatever feels doable for you) of deep breathing or meditation? Set yourself up in a comfortable, warm setting and feel the benefits of breathing. If you need some guidance for meditation check out Insight Timer or Breathe Sync

2. Keep Warm

I don't know anyone who actively enjoys being cold. People enjoy the cold, yes, because the cold allows for warm fires, hot baths and hot water bottles, but being cold - no. With winter bringing with it extreme temperatures that can make your body forget how to use it's fingers and toes, enjoy winter rituals that keep you warm and snug. Swathe yourself in blankets, keep wrapped up, light fires and have a hot water bottle with you at all times. Even better, use the excuse of the cold to get yourself some cuddles! We see wildlife using their own body heat to comfort each other in winter (penguins are a prime example) and I sure as hell don't need convincing to do the same

3. Light candles

With the drawn out nights and extended darkness winter brings, lighting candles- both in the morning and evening- is an excellent winter ritual. Brilliantly, lighting candles has a whole host of benefits too. For one, that warm orange glow a flame creates helps to craft the illusion of warmth and add to that cosy feeling we crave in this chill. More than that, we are all aware of the calming effect a flickering flame brings. It's a real thing! Studies have shown the positive impact candles have on reducing stress. Just make sure you choose non-toxic candles - I love Plum and AshbyMilkwood and Essence and Alchemy

4. feed the birds

Winter is not an easy time for our feathered friends. With the cold zapping them of energy and less hours of daylight to search for food, birds need all the help they can get. As long as it's not mouldy or meat fat it's likely birds will enjoy most of your leftovers, and otherwise there are so many amazing recipes on the internet for creating a bird feast. Check out what the RSPB has to say for more detail

5. Rest & Reflect

Taking note of what is happening in the environment around you and looking at how you can echo it is one of greatest ways you can begin living with nature. Writing about the Winter Solstice before I described how land and wildlife retreats and rests in this season and, with the slow pace winter brings, it's a good time for us to do the same. Dust off that journal and contemplate on the thoughts that fill your mind- give attention to the ones that need it and let others go. Or, even better, don't give yourself any to-do's at all and just sit back and be. Whatever helps you enter into a space of rest, do that. Lots of it

6. Craft a good sleep ritual

With the sun going to bed earlier we should be too but it's not just about the length of sleep you have but the quality of it. As I've described, if we reflect what is happening in nature then we need to conserve energy and, thank the Gods, that means some good old quality sleep. Use this season as a reason to head to bed earlier and to craft a good sleep ritual. Set your phone to airplane mode an hour before bed, light your candle and enjoy some deep breathing along with a herbal cup of tea. You could even practice some gentle yoga in bed. All of these will help bring the calm, easing you gently into a night of deep rest

7. Go outside

As ever, whatever the season I recommend making going outdoors a regular ritual. Winter, even with its crisp chill, is no different. Wrap up warm and take a walk around your familiar routes. Observe what is happening. What are the trees doing? What wildlife do you see? Use your all you senses to feel into what winter brings for nature and us. You could take this ritual a step further and practice silently meditating as you go, or by taking a pencil and paper (and likely a flask of something hot) and creatively documenting what you see. However you choose to spend your time outdoors, you can be comforted by the prospect of a blanket, fire and something hot on your return


What does living with nature in winter look like for you? Do you have any seasonal rituals you can't go without?

Rituals for Living with Nature in Winter | A Guide by The Foraged Life