3 Ways to Recalibrate Spiritually & Mentally During Winter
As I emerge from a prolonged stint of “creative stillness,” a phrase borrowed from Dhayana Alejandrina (to describe “writer’s block), I’ve come to understand that I can never truly write about an experience while it’s “still dark outside.”
I named this platform “Muse by Midnight” because I “sparkle in the twilight;” expanding like a nyctinastic plant which moves, breathes and shifts according to a circadian rhythm that reacts in response to darkness. I am in sync with myself – and my highest aspirations and base needs – “at night” (both literally and metaphorically). Withdrawn and introspective, only the rising sun can shatter my spell of placidity...
I’ve been writing this blog in sprints; piece by piece, like a spider attempting to spin a story of serenity and impasse that reflects the sleeping movements of Winter.
During a season where night reigns supreme, and the days are colder and shorter, it’s become apparent that I’m beginning to “thaw out” as we creep nearer to Spring. Some of what I wrote mere weeks ago is outdated, yet some is still true.
So, if you’re comfortable with wading in duality, then allow me to share a tale about Winter and how you too, can recalibrate...
There’s an unease permeating throughout my bones… It’s like being naked in a snowy wilderness. My bareness is tingling and contracting in the freezing wind; and the sun is reflecting on the glistening ice — blinding.
I’m being called to hibernate and to shed dead skin, which requires a compassionate, yet uncomfortable peeling — off. The suppleness of new derma and the subtle, sweet notes of jasmine in my scent glands is Winter's alchemy.
I have emerged from my writer’s block just to go inside another cave. A cozy cavern of myself – with shimmering jewel tones – and a gentle, crackling fire illuminating and casting shadows inside (and outside) of me. If it’s possible to desire to touch the world (and have it touch me), yet at the same time, keep it arm’s length away while I ponder the gentlest, and most strategic way to re-enter its beauty and madness, then this is my internal contradiction.
What a conniption; what an unfolding…
What a juxtaposition… I’m experiencing an invitation to explore the ineffable in the midst of the Winter edition of The Sanctuary.
“The Sanctuary” is my membership program, segmented by seasons, in which I guide my muses through the study of a specific theme, and together, we move through rituals, activities and discussions that align with the season’s somatic and astrological energies.For the past three years, I’ve been gradually shifting how I engage with the world – and who has access to me (both online and off) – which has caused me to further distance myself from a culture of immediacy and rapid consumption. I approach even the smallest actions with thought and intention, and I’ve repositioned myself on social media; honoring my body’s requests for detachment and stillness.
Our current season, “A Winter Voyage into the Dark Feminine,” runs from January 11th – March 29th, and finds us wading through the waters of the sacred, dark feminine; our own introspectiveness, our collective and personal shadow work; our individual narratives and life stories; and how we use creative expression as healing modalities.
Despite consistently connecting with beautiful humans on the Internet – most of whom I would’ve never met otherwise, I recalibrate only in the absence of glaring, bright screens.
However, once we reached January’s end (and moved into February), I found myself becoming curious about the world outside again, and I was stirred to peer out beyond the snow...
If you’re experiencing the same stretching tension (tranquil, stormy and ambivalent), as well as a desire to retreat within yourself (to find a temporary rest stop on the highway of life),
Here Are 3 Recommendations to Spiritually & Mentally Recalibrate during Winter:
1) Embrace the Stillness and Do Nothing:
As an entrepreneur and a creative with unquenchable ambition and high expectations for myself (and my life), stillness, at times, can be challenging. This should not be confused with sociability, and a need to always be in the fray. Contrarily, I’m far removed from concern about keeping up with the Joneses, and if the lockdowns during the global pandemic taught me anything, it’s that I love my own company above all else – and I’m perfectly capable of amusing myself.
Stillness, as I define it, is a relinquishment of control; and of letting the world spin, without attempting to dictate its direction. It’s listening for messages on the wind when multiple paths, or no clear path at all, is presented. And it’s also when you can’t strategically (and meticulously) calculate per usual because there are too many unknown variables. Mistakes occur when in haste, so if there’s an option to play chess with no timer, then wait to make a move.
Gray is not a middle that I enjoy, but it’s better than a blind play. For even when you’re moving based on intuition, there is guidance in your bones (and spirit) – conscious or not. If you can, sit with your uncomfortableness, and allow the butterflies to flutter in your stomach, until clarity appears. Remember the season you’re in and grant yourself grace. Winter is a time for hibernating.
2) Use Music, Aroma and Ambiance for Mentally Transportation:
In the absence of control, I pour into myself with nurturing, sensory kindness. Each night, I listen to healing solfeggio frequencies or soothing ambiance sounds (such as rain or waves). Not only does it help me fall asleep, but when I awake, I’m in a balanced, hopeful, harmonious and peaceful state of mind.
In the mornings, as I move through my daily routine (skincare, cooking breakfast, etc.), I’ll watch/listen to ambiance videos on YouTube that capture the energy I want to radiate with that day, or that transport me to a destination that I’d love to be in. I subscribe to YouTube Premium, so there are no ads to disrupt the experience.
Sometimes I’ll listen to a romantic, classical music playlist that transports me to a cobblestoned European city, and other times, I’ll be whisked away to a romantic, dark academica-esque library on a sprawling country estate. I also enjoy listening to the sounds of busy cafés with lofi music playing, and people softly chatting and laughing amidst clanking teacups.
I've embedded one of the videos (above) that I've been listening to almost daily this season... It puts me in a tranquil, reflective state that spurs me to write...
Before I turn on the music, I’ll usually open the windows and burn palo santo to settle my energy, and then light one of my favorite candles; making sure the scent corresponds with the theme of the ambiance.
I once read that your mind can’t tell the difference reality and perception, so with the use of auditory, visual and olfaction-supportive aids, I transform my mood – and my environment – into whatever oasis I desire.
Peace requires consistent action and meaningful choices, and so I cultivate it daily.
Though it’s never completely halted, travel is generally slower for me during the Winter season… However, just because I’m not getting on a plane, doesn’t mean I stop imagining – and exploring. I re-create the world I exist in; music note by music note, and candle flame by flame.
3) Read Books & Listen to Podcasts to Imagine Yourself Forging New Paths:
In a past Muses & Sirens newsletter, I wrote about my desire to move from Los Angeles and embark on a new life adventure. I haven’t quite figured out where my new home will be, but I’ve been soaking my imagination in podcasts and books – and absorbing inspiration like a sponge.
I’ve found that my favorite podcasts revolve around women going on quests to find personal meaning (and expansion); especially beyond the United States.
The “Flourish in the Foreign” podcast, hosted by Christine Job, is a recent, joyous discovery; beautifully merging Black women’s personal stories of expatriation, travel, and wellness while thriving abroad.
In my “Love Letter to Sevilla” blog, I wrote about the magic of my trip to southern Spain, and how visiting Sevilla reignited my desire to re-learn Spanish (which I knew as child, but forgot). That trip awakened something in me, and ever since then, I’ve been fascinated with stories about expat women living all over the world.
Travel has always been a passion, and deeply integrated into my lifestyle (I’ve visited 22+ countries so far), but this podcast has made me question whether the time has come to leave the familiar and find a new home…
Whatever your passion is, there’s likely a podcast (or a book) that you can explore during the Winter downtime. For instance, I also recently purchased the book, West with the Night by Beryl Markham (which is a memoir about Markham's pioneering aviation career, and childhood in Kenya during the 20th century).
In stillness, I listen and seek, and I suppose that's what's been happening... Perhaps it will shape what’s to come…
“Winter” and “darkness” is a collective experience, but also an individual one. It’s a season to embrace the unknown – internally and externally. There will be ebbs and flows, and bursts of energy, then recessions, but pace yourself. Graceful, gentle recalibration is the way forward.
*Editorial Note: The first and last pictures on this post are used with permission from their creators, Sindre Fs and Rubenstein Rebello. All other content (words, images and videos) on this site are copyright/created by Muse by Midnight. Please be kind to artists, thievery is a travesty against humanity.