Did you know that there’s a Winter in every month?
The New Moon- tomorrow!- corresponds to the Winter Solstice (and midnight), just as the full moon corresponds to Summer Solstice (and high noon). Together, these cycles give us the tight curl of each day spiraling within the slightly larger scale of every month, which circles around thirteen times within the next largest cycle of every year.
What’s next? Well, a lifetime begins and ends in the fertile void (Winter Solstice/ new moon/ midnight), arcing through childhood, adulthood and elderhood in between. After that we jump up to eons, I suppose, the lifespan of mountains and other things most humans have written off as ‘inanimate’.
Can you see it- the tracings of all these spirals within spirals, crocheting our lives like giant, cosmic doilies? It’s a beautiful thing that some go their whole lives without ever seeing; this great, looping geometric pattern of Nature. And we’re woven right into it.
There’s a practical use to it too. See, each of these circle within circles within circles can be divided into segments of rising or descending energy, of predominate rest or predominate productivity. You’re more productive at midday than at midnight, right? Likewise, you’re more social and efficient in the summer, at the full moon and throughout adulthood than you are during winter, the new moon and in your twilight, elder years.
Every year, shortly after the Winter Solstice- that deepest, stillest, quietest, most contracted point of the year- we make New Year’s resolutions. It’s odd timing, really.
Yes, Winter is conducive to transformation and rebirth: it’s the dark cave that produces new beginnings just as the dark cave of the womb produces new life. But Winter’s role in transformation (like the womb’s) is meant to be one of dreaming and visualizing the changes you want to see, resting and nourishing yourself so you have the energy to effect those changes when energy- yours and the rest of Nature’s- swells in the Spring.
Most people who resolve at New Year’s to start running 3 miles a day, or to bound out of bed at 5am every morning, are setting themselves up to fail. Why? Because Winter is supposed to be for building foundations and trying to force something that you don’t have a foundation for is moving against Nature’s flow.
The millions of people who feel like failures by February are proof that we’re all subject to Nature’s pace, whether we recognize it or not.
Of course, the rare person will meet their resolutions, but I think in most of those cases you’ll find that those people have chosen resolutions that are natural progressions of the work they’ve already begun, built upon foundations they’ve already created. They started setting themselves up for success long before New Year’s.
Maybe they’ve been gradually upping their fitness game so that 3 miles isn’t such a leap as it would’ve been the year before, or getting their evening routine and early bed time in place so that rising earlier is the natural next step (though 5am is still awfully early for Winter- unless you get up at 4am in the Summer).
If you have big goals you’d like to implement at the big beginning that is New Year’s day, first start with little goals at the littler beginnings of every new moon. Starting with tomorrow’s new moon, that gives you 6 chances to prepare.
From the new moon, energy rises gradually until the full moon when it begins to decline again. That’s the first dividing line, which corresponds to the longitudinal line that connects the two Solstices:
The second division, between the two half moons, corresponds to the latitudinal line that connects the two Equinoxes in the Fall and Spring. This ‘line’ separates the higher energy half of the month (or year) from the lower energy half.
Whether it’s New Year’s or New Moon’s resolutions you’re thinking of, it just makes sense to follow the energetic flow. This would look like starting gently (ie, running a mile or walking two or three), rising to a peak (running three miles) and then descending again.
In our linear society that demands constant improvement and forward motion, this might be read as a failure. In fact, it’s working with your inherent nature, rather than against it; building strength and stamina organically, rather than forcing fast results that won’t be sustainable because there’s nothing beneath them besides thin air and your grim determination.
Here are two options for implementing Nature-centric goal smashing.
The first is the simplest: Simply pick a resolution that’s a bit more than you’re doing now (but is barely a stretch) and do that throughout the month. Maybe it’s just showing up to work out at a set time every day and doing something, even if all you can manage is stretching. The showing up and the consistency are what really matter.
Or maybe it’s being in bed by a certain time each night (no screens allowed) and recording what time you wake up on your own throughout the month- important information to have before you start setting expectations about getting up earlier. Do you need more sleep around the new moon? I know I do. If I didn’t know that about myself and created a plan based on getting the same amount of sleep all month long, I’d be shooting myself in the foot.
This is plenty. This is growth and showing up for yourself, just not in the Yang, white knuckles and neck-veins popping aesthetic of self-improvement that we’ve been sold. This is Yin self-improvement- slow and nurturing, rather than impossible to please.
The other option is a little more nuanced, following the rising and falling path of that beautiful spiral dance we visualized earlier. It doesn’t have to be complicated, though- if you start doing the first option, you may find that this pattern just appears. You notice that the stretching you began with the new moon one day becomes something slightly more vigorous. Maybe it’s the first month or the second, maybe it only lasts a day, but there it is. If there’s an organic pull within you for more of that, then it will keep letting itself be known. And if there isn’t, then staying with the stretching is more than enough. You’re building communication and trust with your body and that’s the foundation of anything you want to do together in the future.
On the other hand, if you want to experiment with engineering this pattern, then you might start with a goal (making sure there’s a foundation in place for it and if not, building elements of the foundation itself will be the goal) and at the new moon, start with half or less of your goal, upping it slightly over the first two weeks, then hitting your goal for a few consecutive days around the full moon before you start to wind down again back to the new moon. Again, this isn’t backsliding, it’s progress in the way that Nature herself moves. Winter isn’t a failure- it’s the regrouping that makes Spring’s exuberance possible.
If this cycle feels good to you, stay with it and, when you’re ready, turn things up a notch or two on your next circuit. Don’t go quite so low at the new moon and go a little bit further at the full.
If it doesn’t feel good, you might be pushing too hard or too fast. Scale back until you get to a pattern that feels good or just stay with the slower and steadier option #1.
As you develop the habit of dancing to the rhythm of the moon, the larger, stronger rhythm of the seasons will come naturally, since the macrocosm is just a fractal of the microcosm. This is the rhythm of our world, of life!
Learning this looping cadence will serve you in much grander ways than just your habits, but habits are a wonderful place to jump in.
Learn more in a one-on-one or group session with Olivia.