Winter Solstice marks a time of year for turning inward, letting the year that has come before to come to a close and releasing it in order to rest, reflect and regain the nourishment we expended through the previous year.
Now that we are into the Winter season and the rush of holiday events and celebrations are behind us, things slow down to a sweet hibernating pace. Though we still tend to our day to day lives, the northern half of the planet is colder, albeit a bit confused with it’s climate issues. Foods are warmer, we use a bit more butter and fat, and hot chocolate sounds like an elixir that can take care of most of life ailments.
Internally and spiritually, a turning inward is much like a hibernation. Our attention for the external narrows a bit, opting instead for introspection, quiet, self inquiry and taking stock of the year we are closing and looking ahead for intention planting for the year ahead. This is the natural pull of the seasonal tide both in the natural world and our internal spiritual world.
Around the dinner table food begins to reflect the season with what is available, roots, heavy foods, fats and nourishment that is designed to give us weight, replenish, warm up our bodies.
The External: Gathering Your Loves Around The Dinner Table
If you are the main cook in your home or find yourself the host of meals for friends and family that gather together, you are not just the cook of the event or meal. You are also the facilitator of an experience. I like to call it the Priest or Priestess of communion and nourishment.
Cooking for a group of people is holy work. You are literally alchemizing the sustenance that helps keep the people around you alive. This is not in any way an exaggeration.
By the same token, setting a table and setting the scene in which people come together in for the purpose of eating creates the space for either a terrible experience or one that is incredibly nourishing and healing.
There is much to say about all of this, but given the topic of the Winter season and how to reflect that mindset of turning inward and paying attention to our own personal nourishment I like to take it to the simplest level and build from there.
The one thing that shifts the feeling of a dinner table faster than anything else, save for the actual company gathered is lighting.
Lowering over head lights and replacing them with candles along the center of the table pulls people in. There is a magnetic about the flame that makes us lean in a bit closer, lower our voices, shrouding us in a deeper sense of intimacy. There is a reason candles at the dinner table make for a romantic date.
As the facilitator of a group gathering experience, without having to say a thing, you can add to the experience people at your table have and mirror the internal feeling of the Winter season without anyone even knowing consciously.
If you can, lower your overhead lighting, or turn it off altogether and light your dinner table with candles. I would also recommend doing this if you’re eating alone as well.
There is this notion out there that lighting candles for a meal is “fancy” and therefore something reserved for only special occasions. In truth I don’t understand this at all and would suggest to all of us that any time we sit at a table to eat the bounty of the planet that we are so so lucky to have is a special occasion. Bring out the candles. They are worth the investment!
I’ll go a step further and suggest you set the intention of having candles at every dinner this Winter. Yes! Go for it. Let it be an experiment in seeing how it changes the tone, conversation and overall experience of dinner. Investigate how this nourishes you and those around you.
Try it and then come back and let me know how it felt for you and those around you.
The Internal: Tending To Your Own Body’s Nourishment And Care
Winter, A Turning Inward, touches on this aspect of Food Practice with a bit of detail. I encourage you all to get your copy and join in on the practices to help you tune into the needs of your body during this time of year.
More than anything this is the time to check back in. So much of our lives in general is outward facing. That is, we are producing, interacting, reaching outside of ourselves to move our lives, goals, families and relationship along. It’s easy to by pass a regular practice of checking back in, noting how we feel in relation to our world, our health, our bodies and the day to day responses it has to how we feed it and tend to it.
The foundation of a conscious Food Practice is the reconnection to your internal voice – the dialogue that occurs within you when the internal ear is clear and connected to hear the intuitive knowings of your body.
This connection/dialogue is at the heart of a deeply nourishing sense of self worth and a relationship with food that is intuitive, nourishing and celebratory, devoid of all the push pull conflict we have around control and binge-ing.
After every single thing you eat, check in to see how you feel. It’s not really first nature, and our lives lend themselves to busy minds, but nothing shifts things internally like asking such a simple question.
You have a cup of tea… how did it leave your body feeling? You have your usual breakfast, how do you feel?
Make note of things like belatedness, lethargy, energized states, fuzzy brain, clear brain, cold, hot, itchy, hyper, achy, stuffy, full, acidic tummy, etc.
Eating is very habitual, and the cuisine that we eat daily is also incredibly habitual. It’s easy to fall into a routine where we eat what we eat without a lot of detailed attention to how the food is actually affecting our state of being.
Check in. All the time. After every single thing you eat.
This practice turns your attention inward, lending value to your own personal internal state and giving you valuable information on what it is that the food you are eating does to your body. Information like this is powerful in making choices on what to eat and what not to eat for a more vibrant state of being.
Please share your thoughts below or I invite you to join the private Food Practice Gathering Circle Discussion group over on Facebook as well.