As we head into another year where there are so many unknowns, you may be tempted to try & control those things which are in your domain & set yourself personal goals (or perhaps we should refer to them as New Year’s Resolutions).
This used to be me, I would make a list & start making big changes with a huge flurry… & then a few weeks later I’d be back at square one, well maybe before square one as, in addition to having stopped everything, I’d now be beating myself up for ‘failing’.
But now I know better.
The choice is yours
Now I take the Chinese view of life, that each year is like a spiral, building on the one before. Winter is the time of Water & to quote John Kirkwood ’Water is the fundamental Element, the point on the cycle which is both a beginning & ending, a point of turning, the space between the ending & beginning.’
Each year is unlike any before it & so are you & you have the choice to begin the new year/new cycle in a way which is supporting who you are & what you want from life, or not. In the following paragraphs I’ll give you some suggestions as to how you might do that.
Winter is the time to pause & move inwards
Think about what happens in nature; trees, having shed their leaves, bring their energy inwards & downwards so they can protect & preserve what’s precious to them, they conserve their energy so the new leaves & shoots will be ready to move in Spring. And the more they nurture these precious seeds, the stronger the new growth will be.
In the Chinese 5 Element cycle, Winter is characterised by the element Water, so let’s take a moment to consider some of Water’s characteristics. I recommend that you reflect on how these appear in you & your life (& you may also wish to do the same with the quotes I’ve included on the images).
- Water nourishes everything it encounters equally, it has no preferences,
- It’s the only natural substance which can be solid, liquid & gas (at the temperatures normally found on earth) & it is always itself (never loses itself),
- In its liquid state it takes many different forms, think about how the same body of water can be, in turn, a babbling brook, rapids, waterfalls & a broad, meandering river of the plains. It can be still in ponds & lakes & then move again as it enters the vast depths of the ocean.
- When out of control it washes away everything in its path (think Tsunami),
- It has a quiet strength, always finding a way round obstacles in its path. And with time, patience & persistence can wear away what is harder than itself (as in this image I took in Utah, USA),
- When still it will reflect what looks upon it & too still, it becomes stagnant & unable to flow,
- Water always takes the shape of its container & is supremely adaptable.
- And in balance it flows effortlessly & easily, always moving downwards in its desire to return to source. You could ask yourself, how can I move in a way which is more fluid & how can I be more ‘in flow’?
To be still
Winter is the time to resist the never ending to do list & dwell in the quiet reflection offered by stillness. Think about it, even in a huge storm, below the surface of the sea, there’s always a place which is quiet & still. So it is with us, if you pause & listen, you can always find this place of stillness deep within.
And just like Water, when you connect to the deepest places within you, you’re more likely to contact that inner knowing within which guides you through life.
Perhaps ask yourself, how can I be more still? And what gets in the way?
And to nurture the seeds (intentions) you’ve planted
In my previous blog (what do you want to take forward to next year?) I encouraged you to ask questions & to think of the answers as seeds. You could also view them as intentions, & to quote Jack Kornfield ‘Setting a long-term intention is like setting the compass of our heart. No matter how rough the storms, how difficult the terrain, even if we have to backtrack around obstacles, our direction is clear.’
I love this definition; it feels so much softer than goals or resolutions & setting the ‘compass of my heart’ feels like something to do in the Winter.
I have some intentions, things I might want to do next year & I’ll be taking take them out from time to time, giving them a small amount of light & air, & asking whether they’re still important to me. And I’ll be doing that through January & into February.
We’ve all seen what happens when there’s an early warm spell, when buds start to grow too early, only to be harmed or killed by a frost. I don’t want this to happen to my intentions/seeds, so I’ll be keeping them warm & cosy until the time is right.
There are some soft, gentle actions I’m taking which fit beautifully with my intention to be still & also reflect the direction the compass of my heart is pointing. They are to meditate more regularly & to start gently on the gorgeous pile of books below I’ve recently received.
In the opening paragraphs I wrote how we all have the choice to start the new cycle in a way which supports who we are & what we want from life. This is how I’m doing it & in this way, I feel that I’ll be ready to take action when the time is right to move.
Now over to you
I’d love to hear how this resonated with you, especially how you see yourself within the characteristics of Water. If it feels right to do, please leave a comment below. Thank you.
Inspiration from John Kirkwood’s book, The Way of the Five Seasons, Mimi Kuo Deemer’s teaching & her book Qigong & the Tai Chi axis & Emma Peel’s teaching & training
And here are 2 previous blogs I wrote along similar lines One question to ask yourself in January and Why not to start new things in January and what do to instead