Thursday, January 12, 2012

winter energy

I recently took an afternoon's Qi Gong workshop about winter energy.  Much of it was intuitive - winter is the time for storing energy, for turning off, turning in, saving up more outward, expansive energy for the spring.  We learned a breath sequence that was geared toward cleansing, balancing and storing energy in our kidneys, which in Chinese medicine are apparently the center of your body's qi, or energy. (I am very new to this, but have been interested since the herbal conference in the fall, where I attended a workshop on the water element, which is the kidneys' element)  We learned that certain foods are appropriate for this time of year -  many of the ones that are naturally available, of course - roots, some nuts, fish, black beans, bitter veggies, coconut oil, and organ meat (yeah, I'm not quite there yet. or maybe ever.).  Dan would add very salty potato chips to this list, and I'd have to agree.
Water is the winter/kidney element, which made sense once the teacher talked about the slowing down and freezing of water at this time of year.  Water is typically still, or goes underground right now, just like our energy. 
All of this was interesting to think about, but I found myself again feeling out of sorts with the winter we are not having. My spirit, in a deep way, craves that change in light and season: into the darkness so that there can be a coming out of the darkness.  Without the contrast, the light is not so bright, the greens are not so uplifting, the warm air not so breath-taking.  I might sound like I'm not grateful for the mild non-winter we've had so far - I'm very grateful that the roads have been safe and not icy all winter; I'm very grateful that it has not been so bitterly cold for the people who have no heat in their homes; I'm very grateful on behalf of friends who are able to work when there is no snow, when it's not too cold to be outside, building or working on their farms. There is much to be grateful for during this mild weather - maybe there are even people around me who aren't sinking into their seasonal depression because of it.
Chickweed, moss and deflated puffballs
I'm just recognizing something about myself and wondering what my spirit would do with a real winter, which it hasn't had for almost 20 years.
Turkey Vulture - my bird of the year
We also learned that if one is feeling fragile, or as though one feels the need to protect one's inner life or energy, one should wear dark colors - dark blues, purples, or black.

 It made me think of this walk you see in the photos, on a ridiculously beautiful 50-degree day last week.  It was time to get out of the house - to walk, to run errands, to move into our day - but for one reason or another my eldest was so reluctant. Wrong shoes, wrong socks, big feelings about small details - finally after turning down the option to stay home and have some time alone, she was dragged to the walk in the hills. Once there, there was a melt-down, during which we all breathed, gave space, took space...Ani and I got out and walked a little ways, trying to just diffuse the air and give E some time to come back to someplace calm.  Eventually she was coaxed out of the car and reluctantly trudged behind us, her sister skipping and well into a story far ahead of us, and me somewhere in the middle, finding reasons to dawdle within sight.  By the time we reached the top of the hill, I heard a "please wait for me" and knew we had passed on to another moment. We walked hand-in-hand for a while, finding little things to talk about, watching the turkey vultures soaring close, then landing in the tops of dead trees.  We found our way to a large rock where we like to sit, and she and I sat quietly and listened to Ani's story, still unraveling, making us giggle.

I had noticed earlier that E had dressed herself all in black - black pants, black hooded sweater, with the hood pulled up over her head.  It wasn't until we had passed through the turmoil, and sat together that the hood came off and she began to run the path with her sister.  I thought of how hard it is sometimes to be living this close with each other all day, every day, when we each have such different energies. How instinctively we each disappear into a story, or a drawing, a walk, or a piece of clothing to protect something of our inner lives.  How probably what my child needed that day was to cocoon, withdraw, protect her energy.  The best she could do when faced with a day of Out was to draw up her hood and plug on.
The sun outside beckons and demands appreciation, but when your spirit is hiding somewhere, working on something deeper, it is ok to say no, I need to be quiet right now. I have some stewing to do. 

ps - following the workshop last weekend, I had a night to hang out with some girlfriends, making good food and talking.  the highlight for me was a near-silent walk in the light of the almost-full moon, and time to sit on a huge rock, listening to owls, dogs, night sounds, watching the shadows of the bare trees and letting my mind go deep.  as Dan put it, I was "gettin' my spirit on". 


Stephanie said...


This post epitomizes what winter Is to me (or should be).
Your eloquence and love is a gift to all of us who read this.
(And for those that know you, too.)

kelly said...

I could smell winter after reading this :)

Only yesterday I had to argue my kids into the car, I was so strung out that I refused to drive off, so made every one get back out the car, into the house, have some hugs and giggles about the fraughtness and then we sounds silly but taking that moment to reset the clock made the rest of the day better....hmmmm I feel a post coming on!

slim pickins said...

steph - thannnk you...that was a really nice thing to say...i hope your own stewing is fruitful...

kelly - good for you for pushing the reset button!! that's great. and funny you should say you smell snowed last night and we woke up to juuuust enough to sled a bit in. !!

Stacy @ Sweet Sky said...

Mmmmmm, salty potato chips.

Oh, yeah, wait. What were you saying? :)

Seriously, this post is beautiful... My throat hitched with tears each time I read it, when E said "Please wait for me."

A beautiful picture of Being Together, the gifts, the experience...

Love you,