What is an Inner Winter?
With every passing year, I have come to a deeper and deeper understanding of the huge importance that cycles play in our lives. The natural world around us is constantly moving through its own cycles, which have a huge impact on us. And then there are the ‘inner’ seasons that we move through. These are the phases that we move through within our own being – the journeys that we take inside ourselves.
In my own life – both in my personal life and in my work – I’ve come to understand how helpful it can be to know and acknowledge which inner season you are in.
Just like the seasons in nature, each inner season that we move through has its own gifts and challenges. In the western world, there is so much focus on the seasons of spring and summer, which are all about going out into the world, manifesting your dreams and connecting with others. But as beautiful as those seasons are, I have found that there is so much gold to be found when you find yourself in an Inner Winter.
Winter is the phase of initiation, renewal and rebirth. Here, we metaphorically ‘go underground’ by coming to a standstill, taking ourselves out of the fray of everyday life, and allowing ourselves to rest. You could see this phase as ‘letting the fields lie fallow’ or being in the fertile void. The Inner Winter can be compared to when we are in the womb, or when the seeds are deep underground in the sureness of the soil. It may seem like nothing is happening, but below the surface, things have never been so active.
We can go through Inner Winters in different areas of our lives. You might find that you go through a period of a few months or a few years where you are working on a certain aspect of your life in a way that feels much more internal.
This could be a phase of deep healing or personal growth. You might feel like you are diving deep into your psyche and discovering many more layers within yourself, healing from past experiences or crossing a threshold into a new phase of your life.
When we are experiencing an Inner Winter we can feel a bit lost at sea. Half one thing and half another. If this is the case, it can be very helpful if you can manage to make some space in your life for these deep inner processes to unfold, whether that’s by working through them with a therapist or just by spending more time by yourself, doing things that light you up.
The Inner Winter is a time for listening. Make sure you allow yourself to listen to the whispers of your soul and don’t judge what comes through. It may not feel like it makes sense at first, but if you rush the process and try to force it to make sense, or try to grasp hold of it too quickly, you may lose the connection with yourself and the wisdom that is trying to speak to you.
The energy of the Inner Winter is not linear or logical. When we are in this inner season, we may find ourselves moving in spirals, circling around something and returning to the same spot repeatedly like we do when we walk a labyrinth.
Often when we are going through an Inner Winter, life may feel hard and lonely, especially because this is an inner journey. It may feel like everything is barren and bare and not beautiful – a little like when we put the garden to bed for the winter, cutting everything back.
As this process of stripping back takes place in our lives, it can feel like an ending of sorts, and this can be difficult as many of us struggle with endings. But it is important to remember that just like in nature, every ending is followed by a new beginning. And just like in nature, the Inner Winter is deeply important for our own growth. We have to allow parts of ourselves, old identities, to die, so that our beings can regenerate and fresh new energy can rise within us again.
If you would like to learn more about welcoming the gifts of an Inner Winter, check out my Embracing Your Inner Winter bundle, which includes a Deep Rest and Replenishment Meditation that will help you honour when you are in an Inner Winter and give yourself the holding and support you need in this phase.