Don’t you feel like holing up when the shorter days of November arrive (if you’re in the Northern hemisphere, that is)? Do you have a voice inside that says, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”?

There are seasons to our activity levels, especially after we reach a certain age. I’ve found that by minding the seasonal store and adjusting my activities accordingly, I experience wholeness, health, and joy!

Gone are my days of forcing myself out in the dark to walk or row the miles, or entering the gym to work the machines to keep from losing my fitness level. I am taking a break, I’m hibernating, and November is my hibernation month.

Just like I take a day each week when I don’t do any formal exercise, I take one month a year when I let my body rest and recover from the summer activities and minor injuries. In November, I shape my indoor life and enter my inner creative self by spending my time writing.

The ABC of Hibernation

The ABC of a hibernation exercise program looks like this:

  • Activate your G-force (gravitational force) every half hour by getting up out of your chair without using your hands. Use your buttock and leg muscles instead.
  • Bounce or dance when you’re listening to music.
  • Claim your sleep at least 8, but preferably 9, hours each night.
  • Do a little strength training 2x week, because after 60, you have to build strength constantly to stay healthy and robust.
  • Empty your mind and meditate.
  • Find your stretches in front of the hearth.
  • Go for a walk when the weather calls.

The Effect of Hibernation

The pleasure I experience when I get up with the light and slowly get my body going in the morning as I move around the kitchen, bending, squatting, and stretching like a cat while making my cup of tea, tells me this regime feels good to my mind and body.

Once I’m fully awake, I do my meditation and get my mind focused to do the day’s mental work. When I break for a walk around the block or to the store, or even a short hike, I experience balance.

Late afternoon as the sky darkens, I look forward to a few stretches in front of the hearth and another period of meditation to close of my ‘work day’.

Then I begin my evening activities of making a meal, watching the news, socializing with friends, or sometimes attend a meeting. 9:00 PM is still a hiker’s midnight, because bed and sleep call for a long night of deep recovery.

This year, I will end my hibernation month with a 10-day meditation retreat, where I will be still many hours a day. I know after that I’ll be ready to tackle the holidays and my yearly indoor rowing machine challenge 5 days a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That’ll get my heart going and my body ready for the uptake of activities that winter snow and spring training will bring. Next year’s hikes can wait, I’ll be ready for them when the time comes. Happy Hibernating.

Do you have a time of year when you slow your activities and rest? What do you do to make the most of that time? Do you follow any special routine? Please leave your comments in the box below for a productive conversation.

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