Action in Stillness, Stillness in Motion: Inspiration for harnessing the gifts of winter

Dr. Mahalia Freed, ND

As we sit in the depths of winter, as the days oh-so-slowly get longer, I am thinking about change and growth. I am cultivating the patience needed to await the return of the warm sun, and seeking tools to inspire and enrich continued personal evolution. Winter is often framed as something to endure while we wait for the slush to go away and the warmth of the sun’s rays to return so that we can dispense with bulky, dark winter coats, hats, scarves, mitts, and boots. However, the season offers its own gifts. Along with lovely snowscapes, it presents abundant opportunities for stillness, introspection, and inner growth.

I often tell clients and audiences at talks that the most powerful healing tool we have is between our ears. Our minds. So, let us launch into the new calendar year with intentions to better harness this tool.

What are you searching for this winter? Have you resolved to get outside more this year? To eat more veggies? To carve out time for some kind of spiritual practice? To be more present in the small moments that make up your day? What has stopped you from getting to these goals before now? Most often, it is our minds, particularly our outdated stories – the unexamined mental maps of who we are and who we can be– that get in our way. Use the tips and info below to inspire you to examine and rewrite those stories, starting now.
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Setting Intentions for the New Year

Dr. Mahalia Freed, ND

(Written and first published for January 2010)

Last New Year’s, a good friend and I spent a very long, snowy drive sharing and concretizing our intentions for 2009. It was an organic yet intentional conversation. We went back and forth, helping each other get more specific, as well as inspiring one another with our separate dreams. I wrote everything down while she drove. Sharing intentions in this way is something I truly value. Even if you do not have the same goals, this practice creates a context of support as you move through the year, giving you someone to check in with – someone who might notice if you, say, resolved to ski 3 weekends a month and haven’t been out once by March. This kind of social support can, for example, provide us with someone to talk to if we are frustrated by continuing to struggle with a relationship pattern we intend to overcome.

For example, one of the intentions we came up with – and enjoyed following through with during the year – was to cook dinner together on Sundays. The beauty of this plan is that it addressed a number of different intentions/resolutions in one: connection with friends, cooking nourishing food, and eating at home more often.

Without any plan to do so, the two of us ended up curled up together one night over the holidays, reflecting on 2009, and looking back at the intentions we articulated that day in the car, in order to see how we did with our goals. Both of us exceeded our own expectations for the changes we could accomplish, and what joy this could bring.

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