Letting Earth Lead Us into Rest (The Art of "Wintering")
Letting Earth Lead Us into Rest — Co-regulating with Nature and Honoring the Body’s Capacity as Colonial Resistance
For the past five years, I’ve had the honor of learning directly from incredible teachers — most of them indigenous.
And one of the greatest teachings I’m assimilating is the recognition of this body as an ecosystem.
Millions of living organisms coexisting on a vast landscape with its own water, earth, wind, & space… bacteria and virus cells that outnumber human ones… the DNA of our ancestors, their stories, successes, and struggles…
All coming together to create this human body.
The earth around us is also an ecosystem.
And anywhere you look, at any scale, you see an ecosystem… infinite ecosystems within ecosystems within ecosystems, each piece a part of some whole, but each of those wholes also piece of some even bigger whole (hehe).
In December 2019, after half-a-lifetime of chronic health issues and treatments, I was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease (and a laundry list of other opportunistic infections).
Since then I’ve had severely limited physical capacity.
So in recent years, my experience with illness — and the wisdom of my teachers — has guided how I navigate the winter season.
I pay closer attention to the changes in the earth around me.
The sun works shorter hours, trees drop their leaves to conserve energy, and most animals either migrate, significantly reduce their activity, or hibernate entirely.
And my body changes in the same way.
It sleeps earlier. It wakes up slower. It longs for the warmth of a hot beverage, a soft blanket, or a crackling fire.
The wintery landscape of these seasonal bodies craves rest, comfort, and slowness.
Yet work hours, activity levels, and the ever-increasing pace of modern society remain the same.
We’ve been forcibly separated from nature and tethered to the “always on” machine of capitalism so that only the most privileged among us are able to migrate, reduce their activity levels, or truly rest.
Bodies forced beyond their capacity respond with fatigue and depression, so we create diagnoses like Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) — just one example of how the colonialist system blames individuals for systemic problems.
That’s why co-regulating with nature and honoring the body’s capacity is so important.
Rest is resistance.
Yes, it’s impossible or highly impractical to abandon capitalism outright, and we all have varying degrees of privilege and accessibility.
But resistance starts by ending oppression with ourselves.
Here are some of the ways I’m navigating this winter season:
— I notice my desperation to escape coldness. The body constricts. I inhale and exhale deeply, and allow my body to relax in any places it is able.
— I enjoy heat in my home, but turned low. Coldness is a natural occurrence, rather than something to conquer.
— I go to sleep earlier, and wake up slower. If I need to, I’ll have a short nap in the afternoon.
— I make up for less sunlight by getting sun on my skin each day at sunset and sunrise, and I avoid screens (tv, phone, etc.) in the evenings.
— I am taking a break from Instagram for the month of December.
These are just a few ways I’m learning to co-regulate winter rather than resist it, but I’d love to hear from you.
Do you have your own ways of embracing the season and honoring your body during winter?
Comment directly on this audio to share with me.
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