- We experience energy cycles every day.
- Reflect on what seasonal energies affect your goals.
- Stay close to the center when moving from one energy cycle to the next.
- Match your actions and energies as best you can.
It’s 19 crisp degrees this morning in the Berkshires and gorgeous as I gaze out the window across the snowy, ice-glazed mountain peaks. I think with less than a month of autumn left, this is a reminder to start cultivating more psychological “currency” to help energize activities throughout the months ahead.
Around here, autumn nights get colder and deepen into a richly dark, star-studded sky. The chill, in contrast to the heat felt all summer (and late summer), is filled with the cidery smell of wood smoke and bonfires. Still near enough to late summer’s warmth, which this year extended well into November, it is easy to feel like you are operating with the same energy.
In Eastern traditions, there are five seasons. These are often illustrated in a circle that looks like a clock with summer at the 12 o’clock position, winter at 6, spring at 9, and autumn at 3. At the center of the circle is the fifth season, or late summer. It is centered for several reasons. It is the season associated with the self, your innermost you, the headquarters for all activity. This means that without its input, all actions become happenstance at best. Whenever in doubt or simply moving from one goal to another, holistic traditions maintain one should stay close to the center... the self.
These energies, easy to see in the seasons, are referred to as rising from spring to summer (where they will peak) and then begin declining from summer’s end through autumn, downward to winter. The cycle is continuous. They are considered universal movements, however, as they are not only apparent in the rise and decline of the seasons but also within moment-by-moment living, day-by-day, event-to-event, feeling-to-feeling, lesson-to-lesson, and so on. They can apply psychologically, biologically, and for some who explore further… as part of a spiritual journey as well (I mean this in a nondenominational sense).
Maintaining balance as you cycle through your own experiences, from micro (moment-to-moment) to macro (yearly), external and internal, is a matter of meeting each cycle with the right (matching) energy—e.g., my own declining energy may be best for reflection or for listening rather than talking. In fact, many life answers you seek may be found in your ability to attend to the ebb and flow of this cycle. The process is more than poetic. We experience energy cycles physically every day as we follow sunrise to sunset and in the waxing and waning of our own body’s energies. Eastern wisdom, with its traditional medicine and holistic arts, has known this for millenniums. Balancing these energies is their basis for living well.
So now daylight is getting shorter each week, and we are heading for the winter solstice. The energy around us is transitioning. But what about you?
It’s easy to start multi-tasking and speeding up activities toward the year’s end, even though nature’s energies dip. Eventually, you feel out of sync and shut down. But you can try to catch imbalances in advance.
These areas can indicate an imbalance:
- Feelings of insufficient energy with which to meet tasks
- Feelings of low or no inspiration
- Feelings of being overwhelmed
- Feelings of stress and anxiety
- Feelings of weakened focus
If you are experiencing any of the above, especially as we enter nature’s downward energy cycle, you may want to check out one of the following activities to help rebalance:
1. When you’re feeling down, trying to look toward the positive can help.
These two techniques can help: First, use the holistic concept of mushin (Japanese for “empty mind”). Mushin or empty mind is a calming technique used to quickly reset your mindset. The point is to free your mind of all negative emotions, such as anger, guilt, doubt, fear, and hatred. The philosophy behind it is that a clear and still mind will respond more fluidly—like flowing unobstructed water or like water circling a stone. Mushin helps you avoid chasing decoys as well, whether they are self-imposed or otherwise.
Then add to that the holistic concept of the beginner’s mind. This is another tool used to help generate a balanced mindset. A beginner’s mind can be construed as heading into a task with the positive excitement of something you have really wanted to do for some time or for the first time. In holistic terms, it is more traditionally understood as a mindset that is as devoid of prejudices as possible and is calm yet excitedly charged and fluid. The beginner’s mind is simultaneously alert and relaxed. You try to remain open to all possibilities with no preconceived notions, assumptions, or nitpicking. You try to bring your mind as close to pure, sparkling alertness as possible.
2. To recharge, actively do nothing for a day.
This holistic concept is achieved by literally taking a day off to do nothing. You are not avoiding this or that and doing something else instead, but are “actively and purposefully” doing nothing. Your only goal is… to do nothing. Sometimes solutions you are looking for bubble up out of nowhere while you are restoring yourself, doing nothing at all.
3. Dream in quietude.
The declining energy cycle is generally a good time for introspection. So lastly, try this. Evenings and nights when your energy is waning can work best. Ask yourself: What if tomorrow you could do whatever you want with your life? What if financial concerns were of no matter? What would you do differently to be the person you want to be?
I know this may sound impossible for most of us (myself included) but roll with the possibility for just a few minutes. What would you do to grow yourself if money were suddenly of no concern? After all, it’s just a thought. The reason I am asking you to do this is that this playful thought can give you direction and inspiration to see and begin pursuing what is meaningful for you.