Friday, December 3, 2010

Widening Horizons: Step back and Clear the Path

Today's title references The opening of The Tai Ji Dance of the Five Elements - a practice that brought me to know and play with Phil Jannetta a few years back.

Phil Jannetta is an author and teacher in the fields of macrobiotics and Far-Eastern Energetics who lucky for me, lives in my neighborhood in Pittsburgh. He has an interesting online service providing monthly kernals of wisdom from Taoist astrology that I'm finding very affirming. I'm including his latest information below - even though it describes the whole month of November and just the first week of December -- perhaps you too will find something affirming by reflecting on the past month and useful now to support your transition from Fall to Winter - body-mind and or spirit.

General Outlook Horizons widen in November – both literally and symbolically. As the vegetation dies back and trees drop their leaves, the natural landscape exposes a forgotten side of its character. Features previously hidden and vistas obscured for long months now reveal themselves.

This “opening up” is as apparent in our back yard and neighborhood as it is on a walk or drive through the countryside.

Implications - Nature serves as a valuable reminder, through its own example, to psychologically step back, to view the circumstances, direction and path we have walked this year, with a detached perspective (to the extent that detachment is possible when it comes to personal affairs).

Such a review is a vital exercise. It is essential if we are to avail ourselves to the inspiration and stimulation, to the imperative for growth and connectedness that is the essence of creation and the stimulus for continued personal development as we move through our lives.

Symbols and Associations – An awareness of traditional symbols and associations can help us understand our own evolving needs, drives and emotions as the months and seasons progress. The obvious symbols include:

Fire and Light- Holiday candles, lights and color are appropriate ways to balance the sun’s seasonal retreat.

A Hard, Killing Frost- Heralds the end of the growing season and the inclination for our own attention to turn inward and toward the metaphysical.

First Snow- cold and ice – Beneath the snow and frozen ground, the forces of life renew itself for the coming of spring. Do the same for yourself.

Celebrating Abundance – The image of “plenty” includes our material, psychological and spiritual resources. Commemorate those things you treasure and that make life meaningful.

Charity and Donations – What more appropriate way to acknowledge our blessings – small and large - than by sharing with family and friends, and with the less fortunate.

Appreciation and Gratitude – By recognizing, acknowledging and expressing thankfulness for all that is positive in our lives, we foster the “Abundant Mind, Giving Heart” that mirrors the order of life.

Personal Natural Image – November brings a valuable and fleeting (December offers its own emphasis) opportunity to enlarge perception and outlook – to see our lives in the context of the numerous relationships each of us exist within.

The month’s paradox lies in the fact that as the natural landscape opens up, energy is actually moving inward – it is being conserved, concentrated and refined.
Activity is polarized in November. In the plant world, the growth cycle has moved into a stage of dormancy. In the animal world, the picture can be opposite. Song birds have migrated. Many animals hibernate. For those that do not, however, there is a burst of activity motivated by the need to collect and store energy (calories) for the coming winter.

Human Image – The thrust of November’s influence revolves around two imperatives:

1. Taking Stock - reviewing our activities over the past months (the planting, growing and harvest seasons). Before the year ends, there is still time to further our goals, provided they are sharply focused and our efforts are consistently applied.

2. Getting Organized – The final weeks before year’s end are highlighted by the image of straightening up and cleaning out: of putting things in order in anticipation of Winter (both its seasonal and energetic natures.

3. Be Comprehensive - The year’s darkest and coldest days are ahead of us. Modern conveniences shield us from the extremes of physical discomfort. It is emotion and intellect, social and spiritual expression that many of us do a poor job of addressing. There is much to be gained now by examining each of these areas of personal expression. And, opportunities will be lost if we fail in this activity.

4. Acknowledge that there are tasks to be performed, promises to keep (to ourselves and to others) while the weather is still relatively mild. Use the month’s vibrancy to conscientiously set various aspects of your life in order.

Also, be sure to look ahead towards the year’s end and beyond. There is still opportunity for accomplishment, involvement and varied experiences before winter’s quiet sets in. We need only recognize that the time for completion is now at hand.

Commentary –Along with the obvious imperative to get things organized, several qualities support the suggested whole-person approach to self-examination as the year reaches its conclusion:
~ Take time each day to reflect on your experiences over the year. There are lessons, both general and specific, we can learn and apply in daily life based on both the positive and the painful. Do not waste these opportunities for growth. What you learn now will be put to use in coming seasons.

~ Identify key issues in your life that need or should be addressed. Late Autumn’s momentum (widening perspectives) makes this easier than at other times of the year. Do not procrastinate. Time passes quickly now and influences will change.

~Once you have clarified a topic or matter to work on, commit to resolving it. Be determined, intelligent and flexible in doing so.

Food – The primary way we adjust to changing environmental influences is with daily diet. We now naturally start to crave rich, warming foods - Autumn’s comfort foods are sweet, salty and oily, warm, moist and soft. The colors orange, gold and red invariably find their way onto our plate. It is time for warm and moist breakfast porridges. Thoughts may turn to thick soups and rich stews, noodles in a hot broth, and hearty Risotto (my autumn favorites include sweet- squash and mushroom, with daiya non-dairy mozzarelli Risotto). The baking season begins in earnest – for a naturally sweet taste, try baked apples, sweet potatoes or yams. At Phil's house, this is muffin season – primarily because they know how to make them without the eggs, milk, butter and refined sugar that we all avoid. Stay tuned here, I'm hoping Phil will gift us with a vegan muffin recipe soon! Breads and simple seasonal fruit pies round out his family's repertoire -- I've had fun preparing a simple baked fruit with oatmeal-walnut crumble top -- usually apples with either peaches or pinapple.

We turn to these warming foods to compensate for the sun’s retreat and the consequent loss of light and warmth. By exercising our judgment and will, we supply the materials to generate internal heat and light so we can remain active over the winter. Thank you Phil Jannetta!

How have you been celebrating the inner healer during this seasonal transition? Stay tuned for Phil's next Outlook for year's end and start of 2011.

Many Species...One Planet...One Future~I See You ~ Namaste ~

Yours in Wellness, Gratitude, Vitality and Reverence for All Life,

Suzen Sharda Segall

This blog post can be reproduced in its entirety with the following information:© Suzen Sharda Segall 2010, CelebratingtheInnerHealer.comListen at: on its unique radio channel at:Suzen Sharda Segall, Wellness Personal Trainer/Consultant, designer and facilitator of BodyArts Therapeutics, has provided an integrated approach to health and wellness for a wide variety of populations, internationally, for over thirty-five years.

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