Winter: A Time to Go Within
By Dr. Lisa Cowley

Living in the snow belt of upstate New York, immediately after the first major snowfall of the season, I would love to go out to our woods for a walk. Here, I sensed a stillness and peace, a soothing balm that washed over me. There was only the sound of silence. No distant snow plows had yet awakened from their summer slumber. No animals scurrying around or birds calling out. 

There is so much noise and information overload on a normal day, it is difficult escaping it. I can’t even imagine how the constant air raid sirens and bombs that Ukrainian residents live with everyday are affecting them. I recently saw Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview with David Letterman where he emphasized that not only did he miss his wife and children but also the sound of silence. “Silence is something like an endangered species. The experience of silence is now so rare that we must guard it and treasure it,” remarked psychotherapist, Gunilla Norris.

Let us learn to embrace the gift of silence now that winter is here. Winter, unlike spring, summer, and fall, is a time of retraction, turning within and taking a much-needed rest from outward activities that have preoccupied us. It is an opportunity to listen rather than always talk, learning to silence our minds from endless chatter of worry, fear and anger. Once you make a regular practice of quieting the mind, intuition will be your guide and allow you to take the next steps in regards to making your dreams and goals come true.

How can you practice quieting the mind? Some individuals have gone to retreat centers where they practice meditation, listen to speakers and don’t speak themselves for an entire weekend. You don’t have to go this route, rather you can take a day, an hour or a smaller increment of time such as 20 minutes to practice deep breathing and mediation in the comfort of your own home. Just like you would take care of your physical body with feeding, cleansing and exercising it, deep breathing and meditation are self-care techniques for your mental/emotional and spiritual health. 

Don’t try to jump to the extreme at first. You may still have to go to a place of employment where you can’t be silent for the day but you can find a time to unplug by meditating in the morning and when you get home before dinner. 

  1. Find a safe spot, whether it be in nature or in your home and sit still with your eyes closed. You can lie down but the possibility is that you may fall asleep and even though that can be relaxing, sleeping is not meditating. Now focus on your breath. The average person uses the chest muscles rather than the diaphragm when breathing, and such breathing is usually shallow, rapid, and irregular, which is connected to being in a fight/flight stress response. Focus on deep, even and steady diaphragmatic breathing.
  2. Now center yourself. Continue to keep your eyes closed, breathing deeply and focus on a relaxing word such as “Peace” or “Amen,” a personal mantra, or the inhalation and exhalation of your breath. Stay in this relaxed state for about 20 minutes or longer if you desire.
  3. At the end of meditating, you may want to deepen the experience with a healing thought or prayer for yourself or for someone in need. There are more than 180 studies on prayer that show this form of thought has a positive effect on plants, humans and even yeast cells; your thoughts are powerful and can affect how you perceive your reality. The author, Albert Camus wrote “in the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me, there lay an invincible summer.”

This winter season take time to experience silence and enliven yourself with the art of quieting the mind.

About the Author:

Dr. Lisa Cowley, a holistic chiropractor and nutritional counselor of 25 years, along with her husband, Victor Westgate, a high school educator of 34 years, are authors of Pack Lightly: Making Sense of the Second Half of Your Life. You can learn more at:


Be the first to commment on this article.

Post a Comment