Energy has its fluctuations and rhythms in the natural world. To cultivate life and maintain the greatest health, Traditional Chinese medicine teaches us to live in harmony with the cycles of the seasons. A teaching in the Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine), reads “..sages cultivate their life by following the climatic changes in the four seasons and that is why they can avoid attack by pathogenic factors and live a long life.”
In nature, winter is a time of hibernation and dormancy as much of plant life goes underground. All of that vitality isn’t lost — it is storing up for new growth in Spring. Similarly, if we slow down and take time for extra rest and contemplation, we can nourish our Qi in preparation of new growth. This is why the New Year is such a good time for reflection and planning intentions or resolutions. Thinking is the first step in doing. We can plant seeds in stillness for our growth all year.
There are many ways you can approach this time of reflection. You can set goals, create affirmations or follow other practices you know work for you. If you want to follow a guide, the following are some options.
One simple technique is to think of a word that embodies your intention for the year. It could be service, whimsy, success, focus, vitality, freedom, dance, etc. Just pick a word that resonates with you. Write down some ideas of actions you can take to make this word a presence in your life. Write the word down and put it somewhere you can see it, or use this word in your meditation throughout the year.
If you want to do some deeper thinking about the past year and what you want to keep, get rid of, and bring about, writer Susannah Conway (http://www.susannahconway.com) has an excellent free workbook to do just that!
Print it out, sit down with a cup of tea, and in about an hour you may feel grounded, fortified and ready to bring all your intentions to life.
To have an especially nourishing experience, get a pot of soup cooking before you start your workbook. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is important to eat warming foods. Try this gently detoxing winter soup, Healing Quinoa Cabbage Soup to continue to ease out of holiday excesses, back to optimal health.
We like to spend the first part of the year writing posts about every day things you can do to improve your health and life in the coming year, so stay tuned as we move from the imaginative to the practical.