Deep in the belly of winter, we continue to chew on the lean lessons of rest and trust.
Trust that there will be an end to these dark days.
Trust in the pause, in the holy unknown, in the waiting.
A seed knows how to wait for at least a year before growing. A cherry seed can wait up to a hundred years. They seem so still but are very much alive in this waiting, erupting at just the right moment and combination of temperature, moisture, and light.
The pace of the elemental rhythms can not be rushed. Beneath the frozen ground, I imagine the winter dreaming of the hybernators, their spring musings beginning to wake the tree roots. We are close, so close to when the trees start to stretch their toes and run the sap of their blood through their trunks. On February 1st, the Celtic celebration of Imbolc marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, a time to rejoice in the returning of the sun.
For now we must soak up the last of the water element’s medicine. The deep lesson of this elemental power is about how we use our life’s energy, knowing that this energy is the stored potential of our entire lifetime. We must bring discernment to the limits of our inner resources and challenge our cultural ideas that we need to do everything in excess- work, exercise, eat, party, consume, and spend.
YOU ARE WORTHY OF REST. So many people are living to rest only when they die. Ironically rest seems to trigger the ultimate fear of missing out, all the while keeping us frantic and disengaged, perhaps dying without ever really living.
Let us bring this question forward:
What do I want to give my life’s energy to?
At the start of every morning, alone or combined with contemplation, breathwork, prayer, meditation, etc, take a moment to ask this question while feeling through the day ahead. What will you be giving your life’s energy away to? What matters to you, what do you want to give yourself to? And if there are activities or people that are not aligned with this vision, how can you give less energy to those things?
Water teaches us to move in accord with our own nature yet be available to change in response to the conditions we encounter. Over 2000 years ago philosopher- poet Lao Tzu wrote that “water knows how to benefit all things without striving with them.”
How do you adapt, flow around, and move with all of life? How do you respond in the same habitual ways, bumping up against the same obstacles time and time again? For example, in the winter our energy levels can be lower. Don’t just up your coffee or other stimulants to try and off-set this natural, seasonal fatigue. Your body needs an earlier bedtime and a later wake up time. Your body does not want you to pretend that it is the summer. Listen, adjust, adapt, flow.
If you want to learn more about how traditional Chinese medicine engages with the elements, I highly recommend Rhythms of Change: Reclaiming Your Health Using Ancient Wisdom and Your Own Common Sense. Other supportive books this time of year are Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times and Yin Magic: How to Be Still.
January Newsletter 2021