woman wearing brown poncho facing mountain
Natural Living

Seasonal Living: Connecting with Nature’s Rhythms

One of the things we seem to have lost completely track of on our way to this modern society, is nature’s rhythms and seasonal living. Most of us have been conditioned to believe that we live our life in a straight line from point A to point B and that eternal growth is the way it’s supposed to be. But nothing could be further from the natural reality. Because, as we know, the natural world is all about cycles and rhythms and patterns. And since we ourselves are nature, it could benefit us greatly to return to nature’s rhythms.

What is Seasonal Living?

Seasonal living, dear reader, is the art of dancing with nature in her own rhythm. It is adjusting your lifestyle to match the environment around you, and making shifts when the environment around you shifts. Depending on where you live, you could experience four or even more versions of your natural lifestyle, moving with the flow and making changes as you go through the year.

These changes is seasons and lifestyle can benefit you in several ways. Firstly, you never get tired of your natural lifestyle, because it will be forever shifting. Secondly, seasonal living requires a certain amount of mindfulness, causing you to slow down and notice the rich, natural world around you. And thirdly, it will make you feel more grounded and connected to something bigger than yourself, adding another layer of meaning.

Seasonal living also impacts the world around you, as you will become more attuned to which foods you eat at which time, and flow more with nature instead of forcing yourself to use resources entirely out of time and place.

Nature’s Rhythm and Stress Management

A lot of our constant stress comes from the unnatural urge for eternal growth. We have come to see ourselves as something other than nature, something that should be freed of the sinful nature of cycles and rhythms. And so, we have put ourselves in a situation where the earth is all but depleted and we are exhausted and chronically ill.

The remedy for this is to return to a more natural way of life – a life of waning and waxing, of inbreath and outbreath, of resting and waking. Nothing in nature blooms all year. We shouldn’t either. And yet, we have been taught through our schooling that the dark of winter and the brightest light of summer should be the most demanding times with exams and massive stress. No wonder we are unbalanced.

Most of us could benefit by slowing down instead of speeding up during these intense times, and instead be more active during the equinoxes when the dark and the light are more balanced and favorable.

Some researchers have even found that we are more active during spring and summer. Energy comes with the sunlight, but only up until the time where it gets too hot and too bright. Then, we need to balance it out again by resting more.

The Balancing Act

This goes for the circadian rhythm, too. Depending on where you live, the nights and the days could vary a lot in length. Up here in north, we hardly get any darkness at all in summer time, as the sun sets really late in the night. And vice versa, in winter we hardly get any light, as the sun sets behind the hills at around 1 pm.

This means that balancing out the circadian rhythm can be quite the challenge, and the intensity of summer makes it even more important to get even deeper rest at winter time. The longer you travel from the equator, the more you need to be mindful about this.

Seasonal Culture and the Need for Adaptations

Our seasonality is something that has sparked an interest with the researchers as well. The University of Bergen, Norway, have studied our seasonal culture and the need for us to keep up when the seasons themselves are changing. Both climate change, technology and the destruction of nature has destabilized our calendars and seasonal cultures, as we no longer live in the same world that our ancestors did.

What’s more, the internet has also influenced us. When it comes to nature based spirituality and the wheel of the year, it doesn’t always match up. As I’m writing this, we are nearing the Celtic festival of Imbolc on the first of February. Imbolc means something in the lines of “in the belly of the Mother“, and many Norwegian pagans love to celebrate it – but this proves a bit challenging as it’s still in the deep of winter where I live. The animals won’t mate for yet another month, and so the symbolism is lost.

This means that you will have to rely more on the actual embodied nature you see in your environment than the calendars or the customs of cultures from another longitude than your own. And again, you really do have to reconnect.

bear in water
Lessons from a bear: Hibernate in winter and take cooling baths in the summer.

How Do You Start Seasonal Living?

The first thing you need to do in order to start living more seasonally, is to get out into nature and use your senses. This will inform every decision you make later, so you might even start a nature diary. Pay close attention to what the native wildlife is doing, and create your own wheel of the year based on that information.

If you have (or once had) bears in your local environment, you can count your wintering days from when the bears go into hibernation up until it leaves the cave again. For me, this would be from late October to early April. Seasonable foods to enjoy this time of year, are root vegetables and hot soups and stews.

Then, the active and exuberant spring time starts, where you get going with your new years resolutions and your hustle mode, energized by the increased vitality in nature. Here is where the tender greens come into play, so relish in the fresh and light salads.

Summer time would be another time of relaxation and rest, as the heat and never ending days is becoming a tad bit stressful. Enjoy days on the beach, forest walks for some cooling shadows, and hanging out with friends. Tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers start to ripen, along with stone fruits, herbs and some berries.

Autumn takes you back into hustle mode, with so many wild foods to harvest for winter. Make your tinctures and potions and herbal teas, preserve berries and fruits by making jams and juices, and harvest seeds and nuts. Spend this energy preparing for winter, when the cycle starts all over again.

The Feminine Cycle

If you are a bleeding woman, you can also attune your seasonal living to your own menstrual cycle. This will mirror the yearly cycle, but in a shorter time span.

  • Winter is your bleeding days
  • Spring is the the follicular phase, up until ovulation
  • Summer is the days just before, during and right after ovulation
  • Autumn is the luteal phase, up until you start to bleed again

In Conclusion

Seasonal living and attuning yourself to nature’s rhythms may benefit you as well as the planet, by giving you a richer experience of the living world around you. By tuning in and realizing that you are nature, you can flow more easily with the life force that is all around us. It may help you to reduce your stress and calm down from the stressful urge for eternal growth, and instead allows you to move through cycles of rest and activity.

All you need to do, is connect with nature around you and live accordingly.

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