It’s autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere and despite the stunning dappled light through the amber leaves, I’ve been feeling a little heavy (not physically, more emotionally) & not as inspired as usual.
At first I unconsciously approached this change in my ‘mood’ as a problem to fix (& I thought I’d email you on the other side of it). But I’ve realized two things:
1. This mood is here to stay.
2. It’s not a mood – it’s a shift in the season I’m embodying.
Just like mother nature, we all have seasons and cycles.
I find myself, for the first time in over two years, in Winter.
Winter is a season that our culture doesn’t celebrate. It’s not productive, or fast, it isn’t bright or energized. So at first I tried to resist it, change it and make it go away. Which didn’t work.
I had to dive a little deeper to find the gifts and medicine in this winter time. Which brings us to today’s podcast.
On the podcast today I’m sharing:
- The feminine leadership principle of embracing the season you’re in
- My own personal winter & why it isn’t ‘something to fix’
- Why culture is obsessed with the energized & inspired Summer Woman (& how we internalize that)
- How I’m shifting my orientation to time within winter (and a short guided embodiment practice to join me)
- Some of the key questions I’m using to guide my days in this season
Resources from today’s podcast:
- I speak very briefly about different seasonal models from different cultures. I learnt more about First Australian’s from this great training which I recommend.
- Developing deeper body sensitivity through embodiment practices like Primal Feminine Flow
- Feminine Embodiment Coaching Certification Program
Prefer to read? Here’s the full transcript
Jenna Ward: Welcome to the podcast. I’m Jenna Ward. And thank you for joining me for this discussion around embodying the season that you’re in. In the Northern hemisphere, where my family and I currently live, everything is about autumn and the beautiful leaves are changing. And the cool creep of when is starting to come. And as I’ve been reflecting on the seasons of Mother Nature, I’ve also been very deeply contemplating the season that I’m in, in my life. And I’ve had a number of discussions with girlfriends around this recently really important conversations because although we live in a culture that says your productivity and your energy levels should be, or are unconsciously expected to be consistent throughout the year.
My experience is that like nature, I move through different seasons and these seasons have a huge impact on how I feel and what I’m capable of from a more feminine leadership perspective. One of the principles that I embody in the way that I do my work and that I be a woman and a human in the world is this principle. Embrace the season that you’re in. And in today’s podcast, I want to speak about some of the different views or models of seasons. I’ll share with you my current season and some of the cultural conditioning that I’m shedding and unraveling to embrace the gifts of my season more fully as well as some of the practices that I’m using and that I’ve found of real benefit. So thank you for joining me. I look forward to exploring our seasons together.
Welcome to the School of Embodied Arts podcast. I’m your hostess, Jenna Ward, feminine embodiment coach here for our weekly explorations of living, leading, and coaching as emotionally empowered, sensually alive, and magnetic women.
About two weeks ago, I was feeling very flat, very heavy, very homesick for Australia as I’m in Europe at the moment. My family and I live between Australia and Europe. And I was not my most bubbly self. And in feeling all of these feelings, all of this heavier stuff, which isn’t my natural disposition, I was even finding myself not super motivated to show up and do creative work, creative writing, or expressing. You may have noticed I haven’t actually released a podcast for four weeks, which is longer than usual for me.
But in feeling all of this heaviness, the very first thing that my body began to think about was, what do I need to do to fix this? What do I need to do to fix this, to fix this slowing down, to fix this lack of brilliance, to fix this heaviness, to fix this inward turning? And when we contemplate the seasons and when we think about a more Western traditional model of the four seasons, so summer, autumn, winter, and spring, what was actually happening in retrospect for me was that I was shifting into a phase of winter, but I didn’t have that understanding or that language or that acceptance of my winter.
And so the very first thing that I began to think was, what do I need to do to fix this? And I got to tell you, I started by really throwing the book at it. I took myself on a little weekend retreat. I booked in some regular acupuncture and my favorite form of energetic chiropractic called network spinal analysis. I took myself for some sleep-ins and so much privilege round up in my ability to take a time out from family and look at, okay, well, which supports do I need to put in my life to address this heaviness that I feel? And as I was putting all of those supports in place, which is great, my body absolutely benefited from that. I began to reflect and actually realize perhaps there is nothing to fix here.
For many of us when we feel a heaviness, which will look different in every body, many of us are automatically assuming that there’s something wrong or that there’s a problem with us. And this is super nuanced because it may be the case that there is a trauma or a stress or something that actually does need to be taken care of for your wellness. So there could be some truth in something to be remedied. But what I observe and all my friends and I’ve been discussing is that more often than not actually when we are feeling a season other than the summer woman, who is the productive, energized, inspired, motivated, bubbly, effervescent, outgoing, full, overbrimming with life version of us, when we are in another season other than summer, it can very often feel like there’s actually something wrong with us and something needs to be fixed.
And so, as I was entering week two of this heaviness, and as I began to realize, oh, there’s actually nothing that needs to be fixed here, it dawned on me that I’m just shifting seasons. Now I haven’t been in a season of winter for, oh, for quite a while, over a year or more. My seasons, my inner seasons as a woman, they don’t match the outer seasons of the world. The outer world absolutely impacts what I’m feeling. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Northern hemisphere, specifically the Netherlands, is moving towards their darker winter to sea isn’t right now. But as I was reflecting on, I haven’t been in a phase of winter for so long, it really was so interesting for me to realize how many of us, myself included, automatically assume that a winter season is a problem and that it’s something to be fixed.
The summer woman, the woman who is productive, energized, inspired, motivated, that is a season that I love to embody. I adore embodying it. It is fun to embody. It’s socially accepted to embody. It’s productive. So it gets things done, which our culture really celebrates. But when I’m not in that summer woman, and I’m less productive, less energized, less inspired, less motivated, it’s very easy to begin to get really hard on myself as if I should be or need to be doing more. And that’s not the truth of my body, but that’s a story, a narrative that my body has internalized because that’s the story of our times.
So much of our world views our bodies as a machine, a machine that can operate consistently in a linear fashion without taking into account that we are all that Mother Nature is wrapped in skin and Mother Nature has cycles and she has seasons. And so do all of us as humans. And to shame or to deny or to label as bad or need to be fixed some of these seasons reduces our ability to actually gather the gifts of that season and the benefits of it and to move through it with the most pleasure.
So I began to change the narrative. Instead of what do I need to do to fix this winter, I began to consider, well, what expectations can I relax? What relationships can I change? How can I shift from glorifying summer and not embracing winter to instead look at what’s the gift here for me? What is the gift for me in this heaviness that initially I didn’t want to feel?
Now I’m using a model here of the four seasons. That’s what I’m familiar with. That’s what is culturally typical where I have grown up and where I am raised. But there are so many other models around seasons and dispositions, depending on where you are in the world and your ancestry. I know many cultures of first nation Australians have models of seasons that are not the four seasons that we’re associated. I’ve read about a seven season model. And I know in many other types of Southeast Asian principles and practices, there are different constitutions and different seasonal representations, which might be closer to the mark of how you see your internal seasons.
For me, winter is how I am at the moment. I am heavy. I don’t want to move. I feel slow. I want to rest in bed. I’m not motivated. I’m not inspired. Yes, I do still have life and business and work to do, but I’m in a winter right now. And I really want to embrace the winter. I want to embrace the gifts of this winter, and I want to embrace the medicine of this winter so that I can have a pleasurable experience in it and so that I can move through it with the most ease and speed.
When we resist the season that we are in, when we don’t receive the medicine or the gifts of it, we prolong that season. And so I’m not in a hurry to get back to my summer woman. I know that that inspired, motivated, energized version of me will come in the perfect timing when I just be with what my body needs of me now. And one of the expectations that I’ve been considering as I’ve been embracing this season of winter is well, very first, it was a really practical one. So what supports do I need in place in winter? If I know that it’s darker most of the time, where do I need to access my sources of light? If I know that my body is going to want to slow down and be heavy, how can I put my yoga in my calendar so that I don’t have to think about going? It’s there. I go Monday nine, boom. I’ve just come back from a yoga class actually. And I had the beautiful autumn light on my face as I was doing my practice. And winter is so enjoyable when we embrace it.
In addition to thinking about, well, what supports can I put in place to help me embrace this season, the second consideration that I’ve been thinking about is, well, how does this season ask me to renegotiate my relationship with time? So in winter, my feeling of my body season of winter is that things want to slow down. The pace wants to ease. The intensity wants to lessen. Things want to be more gentle. And it’s really interesting because when I found myself frustrated or challenged at being in this season, what I’ve been doing is taking a pause. And if I have the opportunity doing a really short embodiment practice that I’m going to just speak you through now. Actually, maybe we can even do it together.
So come join me if it’s safe for you to do so and shutting down your eyes, taking a breath, and bringing some awareness into your body. By bringing awareness into your body, what I mean is, instead of looking around the room, place your mind’s eye inside your body and open up your awareness of in here. You might not see anything with your mind’s eye. You might sense it or know it. You might intuit it or just have an inkling of it. But with your eyes closed, take a breath and just notice how your body is on the inside as you open up. And as you drop in, I invite you to get curious now about in the stream or the flow of time that you are in, how is your body currently orientated?
So if we think about time as something that’s always flowing, what’s your body’s current attitude, thought, orientation, or intensity in relationship to time? There’s no right or wrong. You just want to be sincere and curious. Taking a breath and feeling, seeing, imagining, sensing who am I in the flow of time right now? Get curious about that and stay curious as I just share these few words. So I invite you to keep your eyes closed if that still feels good for you.
In my winter, I notice my body wants to slow down. It wants to relax. It wants to rest back into the flow of time. But our culture, our times, our thinking body often conditions us to be in a race with time to be sharp, pointy, having somewhere to get, a finish line that we need to strive to, a quickening, a tightening, and uptightness to go faster through time. And that may or may not be true for your body. So take a breath and just get curious again. Who are you currently being in relationship to time? Are you an arrow pulled tight, ready to shoot forward as fast as possible? Are you racing down that flow and down that stream, swimming as fast as you can towards the finish line? Is your body sharp and angular? Just get curious. Who am I being in relationship to time? And then drop deeper to ask your body, to ask the season that you are in which may or may not be winter, ask your body, “How would you have me be? How would you have me be, body?”
As I’ve dropped into this practice? My body has said, “The river of time keeps flowing and you are really free to be a drop that pools and that lets everything else carry it along. You don’t have to hurry anywhere. You don’t have to go fast. You’re allowed to really kick back and relax.” I see that. I feel that the words come as I have developed a sensitivity to my body to hear these currents. That’s the skill. That’s the practice of embodiment. Maybe you sense something else. Maybe what you sense is so faint. You almost can’t hear it. Maybe you sense it through seeing it, hearing it, feeling it. All of these forms of inner knowing are welcome. All of them are a valid way to read the language of your body. And we can see in this relationship to time that we are exploring now, every season asks us to… There is a time to go with each season rather. For me in winter, the time and my relationship to it is an opportunity to slow down. And that might be very different if I’m in an autumn or a summer.
I’m really curious for you to take any final little movements or adjustments that you need if you’re still in the practice and then to gently reopen your eyes and come back to the world. In my experience, working with clients and in my own body, I feel that winter is one of the more challenging seasons for us to embrace because the values of winter, which we can see by Mother Nature, the values of winter are counter-cultural. The values of winter are warmth and hibernation, slowing down. Just think of a big grizzly bear that goes to sleep throughout the whole winter season. Could I allow myself to take that much care of me? And what would society think about that? Most of us don’t even have the option to think about going into hibernation for half the year like a grizzly bear does because that’s not how our culture is built. But our culture also doesn’t change if we don’t begin to enable some change through our body.
And so in my season of winter, I’m really thinking about what does winter want to gift me? And can I allow myself to receive that gift at times? I still have to show up for work. I still have some creativity moving through me. Here I am recording a podcast and a discussion, which I do feel very inspired to share with you, but I can’t promise when the next one is coming.
Part of the gift of winter I feel is also taking an opportunity to reflect on the season that came before and to celebrating the gift of it. My season before this was an autumn for about nine months and it’s been a very fruitful autumn. Slowing down and winding down now to this winter, a winter where I intend to take the pressure off myself and to put as many warm nurturing supports in place so that I can enjoy this season. Because if I don’t choose to enjoy it, that narrative of what needs to be fixed here is going to stay around. It’s going to prolong this season and it’s going to perpetuate a lot of stress in my body because the only solution to this season is to embrace the gift that it is.
I see that Mother Nature shows me that. Mother Nature doesn’t go around saying, “Well, except if you live in Australia.” Mother Nature doesn’t go around saying, “Let’s have nine months of summer every year because it’s the best. And then we’ll just cram all these other seasons just into a short little period where you don’t notice them.” That’s actually what happens in Australia. But the climate there is a little bit different to the rest of the Northern hemisphere.
In the majority of the world, the seasons are pretty spaced out. And as I mentioned, some really wise Aboriginal cultures see and perceive the differences between the intensity of summer in Australia. So even there, my argument of summer is best doesn’t hold true. And I don’t believe that. Mother Nature embraces her winter. The native world embraces winter. It’s not something that’s inconvenient for nature. I don’t see why it has to be inconvenient for us as extensions and as embodiments of nature.
So I’m really curious if you wanted to jump over and share maybe on Instagram is where I am most these days. What season are you in? Are you letting go of the narrative or the story that there’s something to fix in this season? And what is the new relationship to time that this season asks you to embody and embrace? I would really love to hear. And if you’ve enjoyed today’s podcast, please do let me know and leave us a review. It’s a really great way to support other people to find us. And thank you so much for joining me in my winter for this conversation today. Farewell for now.
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