What’s going on with Spring, already? One day we’re out in short sleeves, admiring the crocuses and daffodils budding, and then – whoosh – next thing we know we’re shivering under a torrent of white stuff coming down. We’re past the Equinox – surely the weather should be cooperating? Is Mother Nature playing Lucy’s football trick from Charlie Brown?
And more to the point, how do you practice wellness in what our mothers’ generation used to call “pneumonia weather?” I’ve heard a number of my clients asking this very question over the past several weeks, and I’d like to look at it here through the Five Elements lens.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is the most Yin time of year…time for cocooning inside, resting, and looking inward, gathering strength for the burst of growth and activity in spring. In this tradition, activity arises in Spring, peaks in Summer, begins to subside with the harvest in Late Summer, fades and dies back in Autumn, and rests deeply during Winter.
Foods, activities, and wellness practices all revolve around this cycle in Traditional Chinese Medicine. ..and all the modern Western compulsion to be busy-busy-busy, 24/7/365, is actually dead against this seasonal cycle.
But when you’ve been curtailing activities due to snow and ice, and the kids have been home for – how many? – snow days, you might ask: what role does Spring play in Winter weather (or vice versa)? How do you adapt?
I don’t think that it’s so much a matter of forcing Spring practices onto snowy, blustery days, as it is a matter of looking at the longer-term picture.
If you look back at 2013, it seemed to arrive and be gone in a flash. I heard client after client saying that they felt as if they were on a treadmill that was going 100 miles per hour; life was just passing them by. No sooner did spring arrive than it was summer, and hey presto, it was autumn, and – how could it be Winter already?
If you believe, as I do, that we are integrally connected to the Cosmos, and that our experience and desires shape the reality that we experience, then, I wonder, could our collective breathless race to keep up last year maybe – just maybe – have affected our collective reality and resulted in a long winter that forces us to slow down?
There are those who would laugh this off from a scientific perspective: research is showing that as our global climate devolves, the polar weather patterns have destabilized and swept southward, bringing with them the snowstorms and bitter weather we’ve been seeing.
But if you look at the outcome of our cultural drive to busy-ness – the lights and computers running around the clock, the nonstop road and rail and air travel, all of this adding tons of carbon to the atmosphere, resulting in the world’s carbon-sequestering forests being leveled to provide more power through coal and Tar Sands oil – all of which contributes to global climate change.
Perhaps Mother Nature is telling us to slow down, reflect, look to a more holistic, conscious approach to wellness for ourselves and the world? Perhaps this is an opportunity to turn off the lights for a while, step away from our ever-present screens and enjoy the softness of candlelight or the dark…to nestle under a pile of blankets with a loved one…or to bundle up and marvel anew at the beauty of frozen crystals of water in all their many forms. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to slow down and fall in love with the world, and with each other, all over again.
So let’s take some time to be grateful for this long winter. Appreciating the deeper perspective and the rest that winter gives us will help us to transition into the increased activity of spring much more easily and consciously. If we allow ourselves to rest, reflect and replenish our bodies, minds and spirits during this last fling of winter, our spring and summer activity can be much more balanced, grounded, healthy and enjoyable.
You could say Mother Nature is hitting the Snooze button again; the warm weather wake-up call will come all too soon. Enjoy this slow time while it’s here!