Illuminate dark winter nights with warm nourishing practices:
If you’re an Old Testament reader, you know that the second act of God was to bring in the light. Immediately the light was deemed good. And it is! This time of year in the northern hemisphere things get really dark. Up in the Pacific Northwest where I live, we have just a little more than eight and a half hours of daylight near the winter solstice. That is a lot of time in the dark! Seasonal Affective Disorder is very common in this part of the world, if you are feeling low and don’t know why, consider that you might not be getting enough light in your life.
For over 60,000,000 years humans have been diurnal, meaning active during the day. We need light to support our natural rhythms. For optimal health, Ayurveda recommends exposing your skin to full sunlight for 20 minutes each day. When the sun hits our skin Vitamin D is created, which is necessary to keep many systems of the body functioning well. Where I live, this is not an option from November through March. To continue to thrive during dark times, we need to mindfully add some light to our lives!
I love all the festivals this time of year, so many of them focus on bringing light into a dark time. I celebrate Hanukkah, which is totally focused on light, we light candles every night! Whether or not you celebrate any holidays this time of year, to support your health and well-being, here are four practices you can try to add light into your life.
Light Altering Practices
1 – Get a Happy Light. I’m not kidding that’s actually the name of a product. You don’t have to get that specific brand, just search “light therapy lamps” for a wide variety of sizes and prices. Are you concerned you don’t have 20 minutes to sit in front of the lamp daily? For efficiency, I turn it on while I’m meditating and put it right in front of my face. I feel like I’m meditating outside in the sun and it’s lovely. You can also set a light therapy lamp next to you while you’re eating, or watching TV!
2 – Take Vitamin D. Almost everyone in the Pacific NW is encouraged to take supplemental Vitamin D during this time of year. Check with your qualified health care provider, you can even get your levels checked with a blood test. Low Vitamin D has been associated with a host of health problems from cardiovascular disease to cancer.
3 – Bring more light into your home by burning candles or lighting a fire. These small suns can bring warmth into your body and mind. Gazing softly into a candle or fire is a nourishing and soothing mindfulness practice. Try sitting comfortably and staring at the candle or fire for five to ten minutes. Use your senses to fully take in the fire, while taking slow deep breaths. Observe what the fire looks like, sounds like, feels like (not too close!), and smells like.
4 – Listen to a warming meditation like the one I recently added to my website!
What practices do you bring into your life to keep the warm glow of sunshine near to your heart all winter? I’d love to hear! Send me an email or respond on my socials.
PS I have some great holiday specials going on right now, find them on my website. Give yourself or your loved ones health and well-being this year instead of more stuff!