If Winter is the season of the Kidney (rules the balance of water and salt), we are now drowning in water. The recent snow dump melt followed by the rain fest saw to that. So, what does that mean, besides the weather is crazy right now? I think the weather and seasons speak to us as do the plants. I’m hearing “time to let go”, as in what no longer serves you?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, balanced Kidney/water is referred to as “being in the flow”. Going with the flow enables us to live more fully in our lives. The best time to do this work? Winter. The biggest block to connecting with this flow? Fear. And what does fear do to us? It makes us cling even harder to our attachments, hoping they will get us through this “temporary” unpleasantness even when prior experience demonstrates otherwise. Letting go of attachments is a biggie. That can get very uncomfortable, especially if you thought you didn’t have an attachment to something, but it turns out you really do.
When I lived in Cary, NC and worked for Duke University as a nurse practitioner, it was a bit of an ego trip: working for a large teaching hospital, constantly being upgraded on the newest drugs and ways of treating conditions. I was very attached to that image of doing important work and being so “cutting edge”. That’s what was expected of a Duke University health provider.
It all changed when I experienced a chronic illness. Suddenly those drugs and treatments showed their limitations in a major way. My attachment to being a NP and viewing Western medicine as the gold standard ran deep. However, the gold standard wasn’t helping me feel better. At one point I was taking medicines to counteract the side effects of the other medicines I was taking. I peered into a future that threatened to consist of increasing numbers of medicines as I aged with the potential for additional problems beyond what I was being treated for.
It took a mid-life crisis and a move to New Zealand to begin to peel away the fear of lack of good options. I took Reiki classes for a year while living there. The classes helped me explore the depth of the attachments and examine how they no longer served my needs. Awareness of these limiting perceptions motivated me to pursue other possibilities for healing.
This type of work doesn’t happen overnight. It begins with taking the time to go within and figure out the source of fear. Winter is the best time for this practice and herbs can assist with this process. Rose and hawthorn tea or extract eases the distress that often accompanies this journey. If it’s difficult to identify the fear, mugwort tea before bedtime can aid in getting informative dreams.
Working with fear allows for new beginnings. Being open and present during this process enables you to explore these beginnings with a sense of wonder and joy. Instead of a view restricted by fear, new insights can illuminate a different, more fulfilling path. That is the promise and the challenge of this work. You can go with the flow. Or get overwhelmed. Experience more joy in the present moment. Or tread water. Release what is no longer needed and experience the flow of new movement in your life.
A suggested intention for the Winter Solstice:
To claim fear without embarrassment.
To embrace fear without overwhelm.
To thank fear for its teachings.
To enfold fear in compassion.
To bring this compassion into the flow of your life.