Kundalini Yoga + Sacred Living:

Hardening Off

We’re in the full, firm grip of winter. She has us by her icy nails. There’s no wiggling out ’til spring. And maybe that’s ok.

I’ve lived in Minnesota most of my life. I grew up here. I haven’t yet adjusted to the winters. I’m not sure I ever will. I have however, slowly learned to pull as much growth and beauty as I can from them.

This time of year brings a sense of unease. It’s a feeling of waiting, or wanting to move, but the timing being off. We know there are moves to make and things that need doing. But there is also a sense of, “no, not yet”.

And so when we’re feeling pulled in multiple directions, when action seems necessary yet impossible, what can we do? We can pull ourselves deeper into ourselves. Whenever there is contradiction or chaos, it is a sign we have not looked deep enough below the surface. It’s a sign we are still on the surface of things.

There is something called a “hardening off” that happens in trees in very cold climates during the winter. It is a necessary process in order to survive and grow stronger. The normally moist, tender heartwood of the tree begins to harden. The heartwood is the soft, wet center of a tree. Saplings are mostly heartwood. They are young, innocent, and full of potential. As a tree goes into winter, the cells around the heartwood are signaled. They begin to harden and become tough in order to protect what’s inside.

This is a natural, important process that allows the tree to grow taller and spread it’s limbs closer to the sky. Without a hardening, growth is impossible. They would snap their limbs under blankets of snow and ice.

I like the idea of taking the quiet advice from these trees. They’ve been here far longer than we, after all. So what can you allow to harden off? What can you allow to sit in it’s place for a while? What can be allowed to freeze until spring? It’s necessary. What steps can you take to protect the green, moist center of your own heart?

Whatever chaos, apathy, unease you’re experiencing now; be invited to sink deeper. Let the winter shape you. Let it pull you deeper into yourself. You can choose what hardens. Keep the soft, tender core of your heart warm and cared for.

I’d love to hear how you are caring for yourself this winter. If you’d like to share, drop me a line.

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