There is a melancholy to winter. The short days, the cloudy mornings, the drizzle, the mists rolling in like living things, subduing all motivation. Even when it’s clear, the sun has barely any bite. I’m aware that my feelings are somehow influenced by the changing season. It’s time for warm jumpers, rest, and soup!

The birds fly north, the snakes and lizards slumber in their nooks, the plants and trees free themselves of foliage. For all intents and purposes, it appears that winter is somehow saying “leave it be and let it rest for a while”.

This to me is winter’s challenge: to slow down, to be introspective, to take stock and to seek out small wonders and hidden beauties – crocus flower poking up through the snow and king parrots flashing red and green in the treetops.

 What can we do to embrace the spirit of winter, this slowing, restful and mindful season?

Cultivating a sense of wonder and curiosity about the present moment is a great way to bring our awareness into the here and now, not unlike the way my introductory words linger on and contemplate winter. Bringing the skill of mindfulness to our everyday experience can add a level of meaning and clarity to our present moment – as well as the moments that flow from its source.

Being aware of the fullness of our experience awakens us to the inner world of our mind and immerses us completely in our lives (Siegel, 2007).

Mindfulness and contemplative approaches aim to relieve the symptoms of psychological stress, negative mental states and physical pain. A topic of growing scientific interest and application, the current research has provided evidence for benefits in behaviour regulation, psychological health, and interpersonal relationships (Brown, Ryan, & Creswell, 2007).

The idea is that with practice, we can shift our focus away from the thing(s) that bring discomfort and craving via a process of paying attention, or “attunement”, by embracing a sense of uncertainty from one moment to the next, with less judgement and expectation for what might be occurring in the moment (Kbat-Zinn, 2005).

We all have the capacity to be mindful. It primarily involves cultivating our ability to pay attention in the present moment. The practice allows us to disengage from mental “clutter” and to have a clear mindmaking it possible to respond, rather than react, to situations. This improves our decision-making and potential for physical and mental relaxation.

I very much enjoy those subtle moments when clients start to tune into what’s happening for them in the here and now. Not what the book says or what I say… but what they say, feel, think, and experience. At first, clients may experience mindfulness in the therapy room via the methods and techniques we may explore in session. Over time, this skill begins to permeate other parts of their life, bringing with it a greater sense of meaning and wellness. In the flow of their life the client begins to flourish!

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if the ideas above resonate for you or you would like to set up a session.

REFERENCES:

Siegel, D. (2007). The mindful brain : Reflection and attunement in the cultivation of well-being (1st ed.). New York: Norton.

Brown, K., Ryan, R., & Creswell, J. (2007). Addressing Fundamental Questions About Mindfulness. Psychological Inquiry, 18(4), 272-281.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2005). Coming to our senses : Healing ourselves and the world through mindfulness. New York: Hyperion.

Disclaimer: This article contains the views of the author and is not a replacement for therapeutic support. Please reach out to a registered therapist if you are experiencing distress and require assistance.