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Winter’s Reminder to Slow Down and Sink into Deep Re...

My constant reminder to myself all winter is to not push too hard. The essence of the season reminds me that I don’t have to document every aha moment that happens in these cold, quiet months. I don’t have to share every discovery or turn every insight into a poem. In the winter, I’m much more inclined to commune with the Divine and let those conversations remain private. This is the influence of winter, the way it teaches me to shift from an overly productive participant’s pace into a person with a battery that needs to plug in and recharge gradually in order to rise up refreshed for the act of creation.

Rest isn’t easy for us, and we have to be intentional about it. How will you ensure that rest is a central part of your winter schedule? A lot can be accomplished in these sleepy months of contemplation, but if you position rest as the central focus of your routine, you’ll emerge from this season with more endurance for the working days ahead of you.

What does an ideal period of rest look like for you?

Unwinding looks different for everyone, and you’ll need to spend some time making a list of ways you can actualize rest in your daily winter life.

Maybe once a week you wake up and immediately take a hot bath. Maybe you watch a movie in the middle of the day. Maybe you get under your electric blanket and read a book for an hour after lunch. Resting usually requires doing (or not doing) something that will break your routine of constant output. How can you convince yourself to pause and be leisurely?

You’ll have to choose activities that will force you to slow down. You’ll have to remind yourself that resting will expand your creative practice in the long run, even if it seems like the opposite is happening in the moment. Experiment with what works best for you.

Prompts from the Planet

What do plants and other animals do in the winter?

They go dormant. Seeds wait, inactive in the dark soil or stored away, safe and dry.

They harden, keep warm, and get slow. Some stop growing. Others sleep and dream.

Below ground, everything works anew, protective and focused on survival.

The plant world pauses its creation and changes its approach, waiting for the sun to return.

Remember, we are part of the same cycle.

Remember to ask yourself: What is the natural world up to right now? How does it include me?

This is an adapted excerpt from A Year in Practice: Seasonal Rituals and Prompts to Awaken Cycles of Creative Expression by Jacqueline Suskin.

Jacqueline Suskin has composed over forty thousand poems with her ongoing improvisational writing project, Poem Store. She is the author of six books, including Help in the Dark Season. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and Yes! magazine. She lives in Northern California. For more, see jacquelinesuskin.com.

Author photo © James Adam Taylor

S3 New Year’s Bonus: Every Day Gets Lighter When...

What do you plan to do with your “next lap around our star”?

Nearly everyone, Michael Singer observes, will do the same thing they do every other year of their lives: try to get what they want and avoid what they don’t want. And they’ll be just as unhappy.

Why do we do this? Can’t we liberate ourselves from this no-win situation? Here, Michael shines an optimistic light on the New Year.

Jacqueline Suskin: Being an Artist for the Earth

In our modern world, many of us live predominantly out of sync with the rhythms and cycles of nature and the Earth. In her new book, A Year in Practice, Jacqueline Suskin offers readers a wealth of teachings, tools, and rituals to realign with the four seasons and the transitions between them for creative insight and inspiration. 

Take a listen as Tami Simon speaks with the celebrated poet and author about the rewards we reap through a return to harmony with our immediate natural surroundings and our larger planetary home, in this conversation on: following your own creative impulse; letting the experiment be the guide; the shift from creative practice to profession; guesswork and trust; the Earth and the seasons as ever-present muse; the many faces of devotion and meaning-making; remembering our connection to nature on a daily basis; the importance of carefully tending to transitional times; the benefits of cultivating a greater sense of embodiment; balancing hope and hopelessness; the sacred function of the poet; the healing power of intentional rest, and the “medicine of winter” so many of us need; introspection, silence, and solitude; making the “radical return” to nature’s cycles; the poem “Desert Bear” and the metaphor of hibernation; shedding what’s no longer needed; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Anne Lamott and Neal Allen: Taming Your Inner Critic

Many people have written and taught about the inner critic. But few have illuminated the subject with an approach as refreshing, innovative, and accessible as the one Neal Allen presents in his new book, Better Days—which includes a foreword by his wife, the celebrated writer Anne Lamott. 

In this podcast, Tami Simon sits down with the uniquely talented, often quirky, and always insightful couple to hear how they’ve come to understand and reframe the sneaky inner voice that manifests as an unnecessary source of torment for millions of people. Give a listen as they discuss: vulnerability as a path to relationship—and to the divine; radical silliness; the protective role of the superego (and why it’s so reluctant to give up control); the empty chair technique in gestalt therapy; giving your inner critic a new assignment in life; reclaiming the value of curiosity; destroying your false identities; anxiety and its source; tips for identifying the sometimes subtle voice of the inner critic; the futility of arguing with your inner critic; exploring the truth of who you really are; the “saying yes” practice; acceptance and surrender; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Gabor Maté: Healing Principles to Embody in a Traumat...

Why do we suppress our authenticity? How do we reconcile the need to accept things as they are with a desire to change them? What is the pathway to healing in a world that’s breaking our hearts? In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with renowned physician and author Dr. Gabor Maté about these profound questions, and how the approach he calls Compassionate Inquiry can help us find the answers within ourselves. 

Listen in to this informative, inspiring, and at times “fiery” conversation exploring how to bridge the gap between understanding and embodiment; the “full heart beneath a broken heart”; paying attention to tension; growth, not perfection; the neuroscience of emotions; the connections between sensitivity and addiction; activism and advocacy as an element of healing; the dance of acceptance and agency; psychoneuroimmunology; the search for truth and where it emanates from; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Clay Routledge: The Surprising Powers of Nostalgia

Can relishing the past help us create a better future? If we want to move ahead, how does going back support us? Could it be that thinking about the past is inseparable from thinking about the future? These are the questions Dr. Clay Routledge explores in his new book, Past Forward

In this fascinating and very cool podcast, Tami Simon and Clay consider how a walk down memory lane can lead you to a brighter tomorrow, discussing: agency, action, and the power of a “meaning mindset”; building a culture of agency; existential psychology; the subjective experience of time and the concept of “temporal consciousness”; why it’s important to savor the moment; the characteristics of nostalgia; working with difficult or bittersweet memories; how creativity is facilitated by a sense of security; journaling, playlists, scrapbooks, cooking, and other practical approaches to cultivate nostalgia and its benefits; the “reminiscence bump” and how nostalgia helps us feel younger; becoming our true selves; nostalgia around objects and personal possessions; and more.

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