Welcome to week 7 of How To Beat The Winter Blues!
How did you get on with last week’s techniques? Have you been discovering your Winter Blues food traps, this past week? Any questions? Any insights? Please share them via our Facebook group!
Today we’re talking about light!
Forget about expensive S.A.D. lights, there’s a really cheap (and incredibly effective) way of boosting your light levels this winter in just a couple of minutes a day.
We’re exploring the deep impact that winter light levels can have on our physical, mental and emotional health – and sharing an ancient technique that can help you feel happier – and healthier – throughout the winter and beyond.
Do you need more light?
One of the body’s ways of regulating our sleeping patterns and our activity levels is through the hormone melatonin, via the pineal gland. The pineal gland is in the centre of the brain and is light-sensitive. This means that lower light levels in winter impact the production of melatonin, which makes us want to be less active and sleep more – and it also affects our metabolism: hence feeling like you want to hibernate!
However, there are times when this can go too far and can lead to feeling low, sluggish and generally “down”.
The great news is that you can bring light to the pineal gland in many ways. You can go for walks outside – even on a dull day. You can buy Seasonal Affective Disorder lights, which many claim have helped. Or you can buy a candle – somewhat cheaper!
The simple act of gazing at a candle can impact the pineal gland, reducing the production of melatonin slightly, helping us to feel lighter, more awake, more energised and even happier – as yogis have known for millennia! It’s often called “Tratak”.
Here’s a simple method:
- Find yourself somewhere still to sit, where you won’t be disturbed for 10 minutes.
- Light a candle (safely!) about an arm’s length from your head, at about eye level, if possible. Dim the lights, to make it easier to focus on the candle.
- Sit upright, comfortably but with a straight spine. Gently close your eyes and allow yourself to take in a deep breath from your belly, breathing out with a sighing “ahhh” sound, as you relax.
- When you are ready, open your eyes and gently stare at the candle flame.
- Try to blink less often than usual – allowing your eyes to stay open for as long as possible, without straining.
- Every time your mind wanders, gently guide it back to concentrating on the light of the candle flame.
- Allow your breathing to remain relaxed, as you continue to rest your awareness on the light of the flame for 10 minutes, or so.
There are plenty more exercises you can build in to “formal” tratak practice, but this simple exercise has the potential to make a major difference to how you’re feeling this winter – and for the rest of the year.
It really is that easy!
It’s a great way of relaxing, clearing your mind and improving your concentration levels. Plus the light of the candle acts on the pineal gland in your brain (the bit that impacts S.A.D.), helping to balance the hormones and even help you feel happier!
And there’s an added benefit…
… while you’re gazing at the candle, focussing your whole concentration on it, you are “in the present moment.”
When you try this technique, you’ll notice how resting all of your awareness on the candle causes any stresses or worries to melt away. And it’s up to us whether we choose to pick them back up again, afterwards! 😉
If you find this technique works for you, then you might enjoy meditation, which comes in many forms. You could hunt out a local class or check out an online course (see below), to get you started.
Want to share your insights or questions about this technique? Please remember to join us over at the exclusive How To Beat The Winter Blues Facebook group. I’d love to hear how you’re getting on.
Next week we’re moving on to giving yourself permission to hibernate – and loving your adrenals this winter. It could make an amazing difference for you.
Hope you have a great week!
P.S. The 28 Day Meditation Challenge is a really popular online meditation course – and a book, if that’s what you prefer. No pressure! Just letting you know it’s there.