A brand new year has begun for those of us following the Gregorian calendar. Isn’t this exciting?
But, it’s still cold outside and my hands are freezing, Monika! (you say)
I agree with you, I wholeheartedly agree! Yes, it’s still a time of slumber and stillness and quiet outside. This month, let us focus on the well-deserved rest that is around us in nature, and invite it into our life. It is monumental to our health and our well-being to have adequate rest. By adequate rest I mean exceptional sleep, deep sleep, rest with feet up, reduced or eliminated running around and good old-fashioned 'zone out' time for the mind, maybe even a nap or two!
With every action, there is a reaction. This is a universal law. With every inhale there’s an exhale. In every cycle, there’s an up-and-down. There are two sides to every coin. There’s always a day and night. Ah, you get the picture. It is wonderfully and refreshingly 'normal' and natural for us to have cold dark resting days, even weeks and months in every calendar year. The earth has that balance built-in. Our December was a flurry of activities and get together‘s and last-minute changes (oh boy, the many changes and shifts!) especially with the pandemic adjustments still all around. That is all the more reason to allow this January to nourish you in the most regenerative and beneficial way:
in stillness and abundant rest.
As I walk among the brambles and the foliage in the woods and explore the forest along the river, I take solace in knowing that on the surface there is quiet but beneath the surface, there is a flurry of activity. (After all, nothing is truly ever at rest is it?) So much of the forest: the critters and tiny micro-organisms are fully alive. Like the snow-covered forest, on the surface, we may be quiet and take time to get outside, stroll on a leisurely walk or may just stay indoors for longer periods this January. We allow our bodies to rest, recuperate and patiently await the warming weather of spring.
But, deep within, our bodies are teeming with extraordinary cellular and microscopic life all the time. This microscopic life is what helps you excel, rebuild, cleanse and grow healthy cells. When you give yourself time to slow down and rest in stillness, you are promoting these extraordinary changes and growth within you. You are inviting health to bloom within your microbiome, to repair your joints and your muscles, nourish your skin and detox your organs, and even rebuild your brain. You choosing stillness and rest is choosing your body to restore and renew.
Now isn't this a wonderful way to celebrate all of January?
But don't take my word for it. You can research all the amazing feats your body accomplishes during rest. Here are just a few numbers to get you started:
When we sleep soundly, our brain can shrink up to 30% - that's inflammation and waste being reduced in the brain!
When we take a break from eating (fasting 12 hours or more), our body begins a waste cleansing program and also breaks down fat cells for fuel!
While we sleep we grow longer hair, renew skin cells, rewire our brains, incorporate new skills from the day, create white blood cells (that fight off infections), and increase production of the hormone that helps us feel full (leptin)!
On the other hand, reducing one or more hours of sleep per night leads to hypertension, obesity, fogginess, increased infections and illnesses, diabetes and car accidents (due to impaired brain function).
So take science AND nature as your guide: embrace a slowing down this month. Embrace a gentle pace. Bring on the relaxed hibernation, be like the big brown bear, and take it easy. Be content and at peace knowing that deep down, in every fibre of your being, you are growing stronger with every day (err with every sleep and nap, hehe).
“In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.”
— Albert Camus