This time of year I always recall a passage from an obscure little book called Light On the Path:
"Look for the flower to bloom in the silence that follows the storm; not till then. It shall grow, it will shoot up, it will make branches and leaves and form buds, while the storm continues, while the battle lasts.
Then will come a calm such as comes in a tropical country after the heavy rain, when nature works so swiftly that one may see her action. Such a calm will come to the harassed spirit.
And, in the deep silence, the mysterious event will occur. Call it by what name you will. Its a voice that speaks where there is none to speak, it is a messenger that comes - a messenger without form or substance. It cannot be described by any metaphor. But it can be felt after, looked for, and desired, even amid the raging of the storm.
The silence may last a moment of time, or it may last a thousand years. But it will end. Yet you will carry its strength with you. Again and again, the battle must be fought and won.
It is only for an interval that nature can be still."
I usually stay away from war terminology but the fall into winter often feels a lot like a battle. My work load increases just as the weather turns bitter and uninviting. The overriding impulse is to withdraw and avoid the daunting burden altogether. Honestly, I just want to sit on my couch and watch bad t.v. until March. There was a time when I could get away with doing just about that but those days have since past.
Nowadays, I have a few useful directives that get me through:
I never use the word "depressed" to describe how I feel. When I'm depressed its like my state of mind is a terminal disease that excludes all other emotions. There are many other words I can choose, maybe sad or overwhelmed, but my default setting is "melancholy."
Melancholy makes my suffering seem more romantic. Being in low spirits doesn't have to just be about feeling miserable, it can also be reflective and creative. Sadness can be beautiful. I can feel overwhelmed by my situation and still have joy.
How I am thinking about what is happening affects what is happening. Choosing my words carefully helps encourage constructive thinking.
Also, my health encompasses the full range of emotions and experiences, including the ones that I wish to avoid. Feeling a bit down once in a while is a perfectly healthy thing. Living through the challenging periods is how I strengthen my personal fortitude and resilience. My facility is not measured by how many great days I have in a row but by how well I manage the not-so-great days when they come.
When the cold does set in, my recourse is to take simple comfort in my practice and forge ahead with a measured effort and a nurturing sentiment. The weather will start to turn in no time. Just have to keep my wits about me till then. That's how we earn our Spring here on the east coast.