In the northern hemisphere summer is now making it’s way into autumn, mornings are cooler and evenings become dark much earlier.
For some people this change is a welcome start of wonderful cosy moments, long weekend walks, soup on the stove, candles lit and books to read with a never-ending pot of tea.
For others this is a dreaded period, autumn points to the beginning of the winter months: cold, dark and with a lingering cloud of murky moods…
Just the thought of it all, of looking into the period of grey and sullen weather puts weight on the psyche, and this in turn makes the change even more of a drag.
What constitutes these different qualities of human perception? What makes for one’s pleasant adaptation and another one’s reluctant dread?
Winter blues and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have mainly three leading causes: biological (another family member with depression or SAD), stress, and gender. Women are more likely to develop SAD than men.
Training ourselves in attention and awareness, in thoughts and actions, will support us through the darker months. We cannot change winter but we can change our attitude to it, and our relationship with our thoughts.
By observing our thoughts, emotions, and reactions to the world around us, we become aware of ourselves. This takes a little more work than it sounds like, but it is well spent energy; when we learn how to stay in uncomfortable or unpleasant moments and not judge them much differently (or at all) than moments of joy and comfort, we make a supporting ground for greater stability of mind. And a stable mind supports a stable spirit, the surrounding does not affect us as much as before.
My own experience of training my mind and watching the emotional reactions, lies in my yoga practice. Here I watch my fears and my joys, and realize over and over again that most of what is going on in my head is fabricated stories of my mind. Random thoughts that have, with time, become my idea of reality.
The understanding, or presumption, of what is real can be totally different from one day to the next, which then means that our thoughts are reversible. We can in fact train ourselves to react differently to circumstances.