Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

How to rejuvenate and realign with the earth as the seasons change.

The natural rhythm of autumn signals shorter days with less direct rays from the sun and longer nights. These shifts are nature's cues for life to slow down and turn inward for a needed period of rest and regeneration. This is an invitation for us to do the same.

Native American tribes and other cultures across the globe have always taught that we live our best lives by synchronizing with the cycles in nature and learning from her creatures. The premise is that everything anyone would ever need to know for thriving is already here in the natural world. In those traditions, animals have long served as teachers of noble traits and healthy lifestyle habits for us to aspire to and emulate.

Bear medicine

The bear is the animal guide many Native Americans look to for wisdom about transitioning from end of summer to fall and winter and using the time for deep regeneration. Here in the Tetons we are so fortunate to witness the bears right now as they finish gathering their food and prepare their dens for hibernation. When bears enter their den-caves, they safely and fully disconnect from the outer world of survival, and spend time being held in the deeper energies of the Earth and the greater cosmos. It is no wonder that according to North American Native tradition, the bear brings us the teaching of introspection.

As fellow earthlings, we are invited to follow the cues of nature and gracefully move to a more inward focus at this time of year. This is not a call to hibernate. It is an invitation to embrace the shorter days and welcome the opportunity to refresh ourselves as participants in the regenerative beauty of this season. What might that look like? This can include enjoying more sleep and quietude, becoming focused on introspection, intuition and inner knowing, opening to deeper levels of heart and creativity, examining purpose, and connecting with the wisdom in our souls. This winter can be the time to nourish the "being" part of our human being selves. More being and less doing allow us to receive higher guidance for new, inspiring possibilities in our lives.

The shift to less daylight, longer nights and cold weather can also be very challenging physically and psychologically. If you are someone who is suffering from seasonal affective disorder, become informed on proven ways to mitigate those symptoms. If the approach of winter darkness has you experiencing more serious depression, seek professional help so you can heal as deeply and quickly as possible. If you need resources, email me.

Be inspired to go within

Here are some questions that can stimulate your winter of introspection. Take a few minutes to sit comfortably in a place where you will not be interrupted. Close your eyes and take three slow, relaxing deep breaths. Keeping your eyes closed, focus your awareness on your physical heart and rest there as you take three more slow, deep breaths. Gently open your eyes, keep the focus in your heart, and jot down some spontaneous answers to the following questions: What do you need in your life in order to regenerate body, mind and spirit this winter? How can you begin that process in each of those three aspects of your life? What indoor and outdoor activities bring you into a quiet state of being? What opens your heart and how can you bring more of whatever those things are into your life now? Are there books you've been eyeing? Are there things you've wanted to learn or create, or explore, or experience, or invent that you could begin this winter?

Keep in mind that so many simple things can open you to a pure state of being. The zen of skiing can do this, and the same is true in yoga, meditating or practicing random acts of kindness. You can also reach this pure state of being while creating or noticing beauty, writing, drawing, cooking comforting food, shoveling snow, making music, staring into the embers in the fireplace, or watching the snow fall silently in the woods.

As above, so below

Lastly, if you'd like a simple way to peer into the awesome mystery of creation, take the time to observe the geometric perfection of snowflakes. Notice that every snowflake is its own unique design. Perhaps you can see that we are the same as the snowflakes; we are all perfectly designed and every person is unique. PJH