Do you start to feel a bit down as summer draws to a close? Does your mood start to take a nosedive as the days get shorter and the weather deteriorates? Well I have some news for you, my friend: you are not alone.
Most of us feel more energetic in the summer; the extra daylight and the warmth of the sun make us want to get out there, see everything and do more. It’s nature! Many years ago summer would have been the time our food was ready to harvest, and we’d use the longer days to pick and gather enough to keep us going until the next crop came. The sun boosts our levels of serotonin, making us feel happier and more energized – it’s just the way we’re built.
So it’s natural, too, that as the sunlight lessens and there’s more dark than light we begin to feel more tired, less motivated and – you guessed it – a little bit down.
But don’t worry! The autumn and winter months bring their own special recipe of beautiful weather, and it can be appreciated (nay, loved!) if you look in the right place. So snuggle up and get ready to have your mind BLOWN by the power of rain, wind and storms, and their ability to calm, energise and inspire you.
“There is no such thing as bad weather; every day has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.” – George Gissing
Not many people like rain. We associate it with damp clothes, cancelled plans and soggy feet. But rain has so much more to offer. I like to think of rain as an opportunity to be mindful, wherever you are when it strikes. So let’s have a look at some scenarios and how we can transform them into moments of presence and calm:
You’re stuck indoors.
Your plans have been cancelled and there’s nothing else to do. Well let me tell you – yes there is! Right here is a chance to experience the present moment. Go to the nearest window and watch the droplets run down the windowpane. Listen to the sounds they make as they tap on the glass. Breathe slowly and deeply into your abdomen and notice the movement of your breath with the spitting, pounding and pouring of the rain. There’s no pressure to be anywhere or do anything here and the past and future are irrelevant. You’re noticing the present and appreciating what’s right in front of you. It’s absolutely beautiful.
You’re caught in a downpour.
This is probably the trickiest, but stay with me. Being caught in a flash of rain can send your senses into a frenzy. It can be cold, irritating and uncomfortable. But let’s flip this. This downpour can just as easily be an incredible sensory experience if you alter your perception. Light raindrops on your skin can be calm and soothing. Heavy, intense showers can awaken and invigorate you. Tilt your head up to the sky and feel the rain for a moment; experience it the way you want to. Whilst everyone else is running for cover, take it a little slower and appreciate the feeling of your body merging with nature. You’re here, right now, and you’re moving and changing, just like the world and weather around you. How incredible is that?!
You’re trying to sleep.
The sound of rain hitting a roof is full of possibility, especially if you’re settling down for the night. Rain is repetitive and repetitive sounds can relax us; I challenge you to listen to an album of sleep music and not hear some raindrops in there. Lie back, close your eyes and notice the rain and your heavy, sleepy breathing. Don’t make an effort to focus specifically on anything. Breathe naturally and realise that you don’t need to do anything or be anywhere. It’s just you, in your bed, with the rain. With our days filled with technology and modern day anxieties, these natural sounds can bring us back to ourselves and send us into a deep, relaxing sleep.
Wind is the antidote to good hair and functioning umbrellas. It’s a force of nature and it can be scary and even dangerous at times. But it’s so powerful and intense that it can be a wonderful source of inspiration. You can feel the way it whips across your skin. Watch the way it moves in the trees. Hear the way it hums through the air. It’s tangible and it’s here right now. I like to think of the wind and remember that nothing can stop it, it’s an incredible miracle of nature – and so am I. Nothing can stop me, either.
Our minds are like flags in the wind, never still and always changing direction. All of us get swept away by our thoughts, feelings and emotions sometimes, but this doesn’t need to be a bad thing. We are human and our minds are active and beautiful. Like watching the wind, we can try watching our thoughts and emotions, without judgement or trying to change anything. When we do this we can realise that nothing we feel is permanent, everything passes, but we are always here, strong and peaceful and open. We are like the flagpole.
If you’re artistic or musical, why not try using the wind as a source of creative inspiration? Look at the way things move when the wind blows and the shapes and shadows it creates. Listen to the rise and fall of the gusts as they come and the sounds they make as they encounter objects or whistle through the trees. It’s such a great opportunity to be imaginative.
Thunderstorms are a source of fear for many people. If you’re one of them, it might take more than this article to overcome it. But perhaps reading this can help a little in changing the way you see thunderstorms, and go a little way in helping you to realise the beauty that lies within them. Thunderstorms are happening constantly all around the world all the time. I think that’s kind of amazing. They’re like the ultimate combo of sensory experiences: the sound of thunder, the flash of lightning and the whoosh of the wind. And the occasional chef’s special side dish: spatters of rain.
The colours in a thunderstorm can be a brilliant source of inspiration for creativity and imagination. The clouds can sometimes be so dark that it feels like you’re in another world. The lightning can be so bright that it fills an entire house. The sound of a big clap of thunder is louder and further-reaching than any man-made noise. Try sitting with the thunderstorm and experiencing the explosions of colour and sound right outside your window; remember again that you’re right here, right now, and so is this storm. It’s a crazy, weird product of nature, and it’s amazing!
My favourite thing to do in a thunderstorm is to stay indoors and remember that I am safe. In my opinion, there is nothing more comforting than hearing that storm outside and knowing that I am warm and secure in my house, lucky enough to be experiencing something so incredible.
It is important to note that thunderstorms can be dangerous. I am in no way suggesting that you run out into the middle of the nearest field, spread your arms and experience the moment. That would be quite silly. If you’re the tallest object in an open space then lightning can strike you, so it’s really important to be careful and take cover indoors (not under a tree) if you’re ever out and about when one comes along.
So no, the summer doesn’t last forever and winter always comes around. It’s colder and it’s less predictable but it’s something entirely different that we are so fortunate to see. If you struggle with this time of year, try not to be hard on yourself. Remember that there are joys in even the smallest things, and you don’t need money or any special circumstances to experience them. The changeability of the weather reminds us that the earth is moving, changing and evolving, just like us. It’s up to us to take every opportunity we can to really experience the present moment – ignoring the future and the past – and remember how miraculous it is that we are here, living and breathing and walking our own paths.
It’s important not to be hard on ourselves when seasons change and times get tough. If you find yourself thinking negatively or not being too kind with yourself, take a moment and think of R.A.I.N:
Recognize what is happening right now.
Allow the experience to be there, just the way it is.
Investigate it with kindness.
Natural awareness. Rememberthat you are not how you feel. The experience you are having is not attached to your self-worth or who you are. You’re incredible and you deserve to treat yourself as such.
*If you find the winter months particularly difficult to cope with, or believe you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), please seek advice from your doctor. There are many support networks and advice pages available online and there may be help available in your community. Please don’t suffer in silence.