I had been curious about Ayurveda for years–reading books and going to lectures, experimenting with the lifestyle practices, eating according to season, and working to figure out my unique constitution.
Then, I went to see an Ayurvedic specialist. I want to say it changed my life. It was hugely impactful! And, I did feel like my life had changed.
But, what really happened is that my perspective on my life changed. I suddenly understood why I was the way I was. My appetite, energy levels, and instincts all started to make more sense to me. I had not changed, rather, I better understood myself.
While we were talking about the seasons, the Ayurvedic physician said to me, “You have to do less in the winter. You just must expect less of yourself.”
She understood that my winter challenges were real, and she explained how they were based in my elemental composition. She also gave me permission.
Permission for what? Permission to ease up on my schedule and expectations, to respond to the way I feel, and be ok taking care of my needs.
Up until this point, I had always tried to find a way to “fix” the way I felt in the winter. My objective was to get rid of my tiredness, clear my foggy mind, and feel more motivated. If I could replace the low energy winter me with the vibrant summer me, I would be all set.
Having permission to do less in the winter and expect less of myself really did change my life. Accepting that I might need to sleep for nine hours or hit the snooze button nine times without feeling like it was a problem, deficiency, or lack that I had to fix felt nothing short of amazing to me.
Understanding that it was completely reasonable to want to schedule less and find more time for quiet activities was a relief, and allowing myself to cut back made a huge difference in the way I could show up for everything else.
The world is big–the weather, the light, the seasons are big forces, and in comparison, I am pretty small. Of course, these things are going to impact me. Acknowledging the impact, rather than fighting it off, has led me to a much greater appreciation of both the winter season and my response to it.
Winter can be cozy and restful. I love spending a long evening with a pot of tea, a podcast, and a coloring book. Allowing some more time for sleepy mornings or winding down earlier in the evening can feel perfect. Permission to do these things, by not doing and scheduling other things, made a meaningful difference in my winter experience.
Be kind to yourself and whatever feelings and reactions you have to winter. Have compassion for your needs and adjust accordingly. What things can you do (or not do!) to expect and do less?
It’s a simple and powerful idea. Let’s be kind to ourselves and have self compassion in this winter season.