Tomorrow, the second new moon after the winter solstice signals the arrival of Chinese New Year. If we are attentive, we can feel the energy shifting in the environment as spring arrives. Quiet snowdrops, and vibrant daffodils always fill me with joy, and if you listen closely you will hear the garden birds start to chirp a little louder.
There is a twelve year energy cycle in the Chinese calendar, and each year is represented by an animal with certain strengths and weaknesses. We can look at the animal’s character traits to determine how we should be living to get the best out of life. We are also said to have intrinsic traits linked to the animal associated with our birth year.
In 2019 we look forward to welcoming in the Year of the Earth Pig. The worldly energies this year should provide a year of prosperity and goodness, but like the pig with a love of eating, we will need to learn how to manage the possible abundance available to us. We need to be cautious not to be greedy, or idle – if we are too carefree we may end up suffering later on.
In Chinese Medicine, the earth organs are the Stomach and Spleen. These organs need to be working well to create sufficient energy and blood. This year we need to focus a little more on our digestion by eating the correct food (and not too much of it), reducing stress and anxiety, and possibly strengthening our gut flora. I am expecting to see more digestive complaints in clinic this year but I have found that acupuncture can be a great help at creating balance and alleviating symptoms.
The darker nights and earlier bedtimes around Chinese New Year give a good opportunity to reflect on the past and set intentions for the future. This is especially important in 2019 because we are at the end of the twelve year cycle. Next year we start back at the beginning with the Year of the Rat. In the Chinese calendar within stems and branches (the style of acupuncture I practice), the philosophy take us on a journey of growth, development, flourishing, introspection (and the learning and gratitude that comes from it), and then preparation for the next cycle. It can be comforting sometimes to realise that everything goes through a cycle of change. If we know this philosophically, how do we utilise this knowledge in our daily life? The answer is to have trust.
This year my intention both professionally and personally will be to trust. I am just finishing a wonderful book written by Alan Cohen called The Tao Made Easy. In this inspiring book, many modern anecdotes are interwoven with ancient wisdom from the Tao Te Ching, a book of poetic advice said to be written over 2000 years ago by a wise master, Lao Tse. It’s good to be reminded of the simplicity and yet powerful messages of this ancient text. The trust that Lao Tse wrote about is very much about trusting in the way of nature i.e. a trust in the greater good of the Tao. It is also very important to trust in one’s own abilities and inner integrity.
When I am centred and still, I know that I am on my correct life path as an acupuncturist, but it is so easy to get caught up with the pressures of the 21st century. My Facebook and Instagram feeds often pop up adverts advising me of how I should be marketing myself, and increasing my patient load in order to become more ‘successful’. But my work is not, and should not only be about patient numbers. Quality surely needs to override quantity.
Lao Tse wrote in the 9th verse of the Tao Te Ching
To keep on filling
is not as good as stopping.
Overfilled, the cupped hands drip,
better to stop pouring.
Sharpen a blade too much
and its edge will soon be lost.
Fill your house with jade and gold
and it brings insecurity.
Puff yourself with honour and pride
and no one can save you from a fall.
Retire when the work is done;
this is the way of heaven. (1)
If I can treat just three people in a morning, with a pure heart and clear intentions, that to me is better than having a packed daily schedule where I feel flustered and unconnected to the Tao. Chinese Medicine is not just a career choice for me, it is a complete way of living. Sometimes though, I have to take a step back and remind myself of this. This is why in 2019 I am planning to keep a seasonal journal where I make it a daily habit to watch the miracles of nature, as well as the reflections within myself. I am also planning to go on regular Sunday hikes with my family so that they too can get away from the pressures of relentless social media. And as it is the Earth Pig’s year, I am also going to enjoy nourishing myself with good, healthy food.
I wish you all the very best for this Chinese New Year. May you enjoy good fortune and live with a happy heart.
1. Dyer, Wayne W., Change your thoughts, Change your life, Hay House, London 2010
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