Snow creates that quality of awe in the face of a power greater than ours. It epitomises the aesthetic notion of the sublime, in which greatness and beauty couple to overcome you—a small, frail human—entirely.Katherine May – Wintering
Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) seems like the civilized Danish equivalent of hibernating for the winter. Taking shelter from the storm, hunkering down by a crackling fire in head-to-toe flannel with a giant mugful of tea, and escaping into a stack of books. For many of us, it’s only when a big storm (actual or metaphorical) leaves us with no other options that we give ourselves permission to hygge it out. Otherwise, we might feel as if we are shirking responsibility or guilty about our to-do list and start “should” ing ourselves, I should be exercising, organizing, practicing, or working. I should be doing something productive.
My sister sent me a book on Hygge for Christmas, she also is the one who recommended Wintering by Katherine May (quoted above). Upon reading The Little Book of Hygge I started to see hygge as the mindfulness of the Norse. In essence, hygge brings a focus to the five senses. I love the idea of framing hygge as a mindfulness practice as it creates a mental shift for me that gives it credence for me. In fact, the word hygge comes from the root of an old Norwegian word for well-being.
It’s been cold in Southern California where it’s often 72 and sunny in the winter. I can see snow-capped mountains from my window. The Sierras already have nearly 32 feet of snow this winter – more than the average season. We even saw some snow in Huntington Beach. Seems like as good a time as any to incorporate some hygge into our lives. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
For Sight & Smell – Light Those Candles – 31% of the Danish people surveyed say they light six or more candles at a time. I just walked around my house to see how many candles are visible and counted 35. That averages out to 7 per room. How many do you have? Set the stage to shift your energy by mindfully lighting your candles and bathing in their light. Turn off the electric lights and your screens, too.
For Taste & Smell – Ceremonial Hot Beverage of Choice – What is your absolute favorite hot beverage? If you don’t have the ingredients stock up and purchase or designate yourself a ceremonial hygge mug (pronounced hoo-guh mug) that you can wrap your hands around. Mindfully prepare your beverage and sit by a window to sip it in stillness and gratitude.
For Touch, Smell & Taste – Make Yeast Bread – Using your hands to knead and shape the dough can be nourishing and mindful. Plus, making yeast bread comes with the added bonus of large pockets of time waiting for the dough to rise that you can spend doing other hygge like things.
For Sound – Sing or Hum – Accompany yourself with an instrument if you have/play one or make a playlist of some nostalgic songs from your adolescence or young adulthood and sing yourself down memory lane while you knead that bread!