Flowing with the Darkness – Staying Well in the Yin Season
The winter solstice this month marks the return of spring – a movement toward light and growth. We can use that returning light and growth, the rising Yang, to persevere in our own personal paths of truthfulness. The Co-op Buying Criteria is a treasure that assures the products on the shelves in the store contribute to our personal wellness and do no harm to the environment. Many of us are thinking about resolutions and new beginnings as we get through the frenzy of December, intending to establish our own set of criteria to help us make decisions for ourselves and our families that support our health and well-being. How can we create new and better habits to improve how we nourish our bodies and our minds? How can we sustain the challenges our national politics continue to throw our way that are the opposite of nourishing?
It is not uncommon these days to be in the Wellness section of the Co-op and hear the Wellness staff being asked for help with the growing options of products. Member-owners ask, “Can I take that cream on a plane?”, “How do I use this herb?”, “What can I expect from these products?”, “Will it help my….?”. Talk about complex! I, Nadine, admit to eavesdropping on some of these Q&A sessions, along with asking my own. I even piped up to answer a question once, “Yes, I have friends who have taken CBD creams on airplanes, in checked bags, buried in socks.” Hopefully, that member-owner did her own research before getting on the plane!
As I worried about possibly sending someone to jail, it made me consider how we rely upon Glenn and the entire Co-op staff to do their research to support us, the member-owners and other customers. They work to keep up with the latest trends in health and nutrition. While they are certainly guided by our food buying criteria, they have to be able to sift through information and determine what trends are sustainable and worth marketing/selling at the Co-op. Many products and services “claim” to be a solution, but since we are all so different, an herb that might work for me, might not work for the next person who pauses in the aisle wondering what product will help with a muscle ache. For instance, in my family, arnica works super well for my daughter, but I seem to have a mild allergy to it. There are trends and fads in the Wellness arena and we count on the Co-op staff to do their homework so we can confidently pick the right herbal formula to help our kids’ earache or our achy joints.
The darkness of winter time is naturally a time to go inward, Yin. By nature, we must stay inside longer which can be challenging. This is a difficult time for many who do not enjoy cold weather activities or that lack of sun. I, Sophie, for one, struggle with this. Growing up in California did not build my skin for dark cold winters. Yet, after 7 winters, I embrace my winter wellness routine. The Co-op has definitely been a big part of supporting that. Knowing I can trust the products and the advice from the Wellness Department folks or get advice on how to make bone broth while I’m checking out has been a gift.
We have both found that our winter wellbeing, much of which was advised to us from our different practitioners, Nadine’s Chinese medicine team and Sophie’s naturopathic doctor and herbalist, includes similar practices. To thrive in the winter, Sophie takes a high daily dose of vitamin D, which as many of us know comes from the sun which we are lacking in the winter. We both suffered from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) for many winters; struggling because neither of us knew what to do. Not knowing the other one during these years, we found out we both spent the past years talking to a lot of folks and changed our practices so that now each of us welcomes the seasonal change, finding joy in the cold and darkness. We both use teas, Epsom salt baths with essential oils, ayurvedic abhyanga massage, saunas with essential oils such as tar, vetiver, and eucalyptus. And there are all those other winter comforts labeled by Scandinavians as Hygge – candles, soups, longer nights of rest, baking, etc.
We hope you are snuggled in somewhere cozy, sipping tea by a fire, cultivating your own wellness. Happy Solstice!
Nadine Canter Barnicle and Sophie Esser Calvi are both members of our Co-op Board of Directors