Do you notice that you feel out of sync with the change of seasons? That is because we are meant to adapt our circadian rhythm, our daily sleep-wake cycle with the changing cycles of the sun. Our bodies naturally rise into a peak wakefulness as the sun peaks at midday and then fall into a deep sleep state in the darkest hours. There is an annual circulatory rhythm where we naturally have more energy in summer and much less in winter. However, it is our cultural norm to forge through the day at the same pace all year round, despite the fact that we are hardwired to live-work-play by the light and rest in the dark. If you are feeling tired yet wired here are 3 evening rituals to support your adaptation to the winter season. Whether you are a night owl or an early bird, you can practise these rituals whenever your body says it’s bedtime but your mind is still buzzing.
STAR GAZING DREAM WEAVING RITUAL
Coming into the season of stillness, darkness and introversion, the time of Matariki, winter solstice, the longest night and shortest day of the year. Humans have always lived by the seasons, we are not separate from the natural world, we are made of it. When the days are shorter and nights are longer our animal bodies are cued to move slower. Our natural inclination is to turn inward and take stock of our internal world. Matariki is Aotearoa’s new year, where this cluster of stars disappears and cues us to enter into the primordial void of darkness. In this space we can more easily let go of all that no longer serves us. As Matariki reappears in our night sky we are cued to open our eyes in the dark and see the initial sparks of a new vision for our year ahead. Here is a journaling prompt for you to remember your dreams and create a map for your journey over the next annual cycle:
ONE | Write down all the superfluous mind-stuff that circulates often, overwhelms you or just plain stresses you out. Write it all out, go more than one page if you need too.
TWO | Write down 1 core dream/goal that excites you and fill you with joy, they can be as big or small, as superficial or as deep as you wish. Write down the detail, close your eyes and imagine the situation. What do you look like? What are you doing? How are you feeling? Invite all of your senses into this exercise, what do you see/smell/touch/taste? Really go there in your whole mind-body and experience your realized dream.
THREE | Write down 3 large steps that you can take towards this goal/dream, each of these is a heading to take one third of the page. Now write 3 medium steps that you can take for each of the large steps. And now, write 3 small steps that you can take for each medium step.
Keep in mind that this journaling exercise is to support your excitement and motivation levels, not to cause overwhelm, so make your steps super small and doable, and this will further motivate and excite you. Write your small steps in your dairy and plan out over the next year where you can implement these steps. Now you can be at ease knowing that you are taking action towards your life goals, weaving your dreams into reality.
Gaze up into the starry night sky and bring into your mind-body your felt sense of your dream as if it were already a reality.
ADAPTOGEN PLANT MEDICINE RITUAL
Medicinal plants are natures living apothecary, each miraculous growing specimen contains a myriad of constituents that act synergistically within the human body. Medicinal plants can nourish the nervous system and support the adrenal glands with an overall effect of calming the fortifying the body as a whole. These adaptogen plants include Passionflower, Valerian, Oatstraw, Lavender, Withania, Skullcap, Holy Basil, California Poppy and there are many more. If you would like to find out more about medicinal plants for sleep and have your own experience with them head to HERBAL REMEDIES TO CALM.
Carve out a small moment to mindfully brew your favourite adaptogen herbal tea, giving thanks to the plants and gratitude to your body.
HUMMING BEE RITUAL
Brahmari is a pranayama breath practise otherwise known as the Humming Bee Breath, using the exhalation to hum whilst blocking the ears and closing the eyes. It is a wonderfully relaxing breath, turning your awareness inwards and creating a calm state of mind for a restorative sleep.
Begin by humming a few times to clear your throat and create a smooth humming sound. Imagine that the humming sound is coming all the way from the depths of your belly, resonating throughout the entire abdomen and rolling up into your head. The hum will sound like the elongated ‘mmm’ at the end of ‘aum’.
Close your eyes and inhale deeply into the belly. Before beginning the humming block the ears by placing your first fingers over the cartilage at the entrance of the ears. With each exhalation make a humming sound so that you can hear it reverberate within your head, gently calming and lulling you into a peaceful state of mind.
Practise the Humming Bee breath for nine breath cycles before you go to bed, you may choose to do it for longer if you wish.
CIRCADIAN RHYTHM EVENING RITUALS...
STAR GAZING DREAM WEAVING | Every evening gaze up into the starry night sky and bring into your mind-body your felt sense of your dream as if it were already a reality.
ADAPTOGEN PLANT MEDICINE | Every evening carve out a small moment to mindfully brew your favourite adaptogen herbal tea, giving thanks to the plants and gratitude to your body.
HUMMING BEE | Every evening practise the Humming Bee breath for nine breath cycles before you go to bed, you may choose to do it for longer if you wish.
A glance into the starry sky and an ear filled with music is a better prelude to sleep than all your sedatives.
Magister Ludi - The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse