As we move into the chill of winter, it is vital to keep your energy warm and flowing. Associated in Traditional Chinese Medicine with the kidneys, winter is the season to nourish and support this important organ, which regulates and balances water and fluids in your body.
The seat of the adrenal glands, which produce the fight / flight response, the kidneys are also associated with the emotion of fear. Whether that fear has to do with growing fully into your own power or wrestling with your “inner critics” or external challenges, this is a perfect time of year to turn and face those voices, while keeping the inner flame of your consciousness alight to sustain your vision of where you want to go.
Winter is a time you can call on the wisdom of the Water element, which can shift into a myriad of forms from a raging river or to a delicate crystalline snowflake. In the same way, you can cultivate your ability to adapt and flow as you move into the hush of the season.
What follows is a medical qigong practice I call “The Water Wheel” to balance and tonify your kidneys.
FREE EVENT COMING UP!! Nourish the Flame: A Winter Workshop in the Way of Joy. Launch 2013 with renewed clarity, purpose, and vitality by giving yourself the time, space and energetic support to manifest your goals for the year ahead. Dec 30 11 AM-3 PM
I’ve just returned from Louisiana where I participated in a family-run funeral for my partner’s mother. From laughter to tears, both the preparation and the service was powerful and awash with so many kinds of emotions for me and my extended family.
As I land back in my own home, I am feeling especially grateful to have Way of Joy Qigong as a foundation for my spiritual practice because it helps me embody my feelings in a way that brings me peace and a visceral feeling of clarity.
I love sharing these tools with you, and have so appreciated your comments and observations of your own varied experiences when you try these practices for yourself. That is why I am so excited (and a little nervous technologically!) to begin my upcoming webinar,Meditate This: Transformation in a New York Minute. Because it is my trial run sharing this material in an on-line seminar, I have decided to extend the super-duper-bargain discount rate… (hint, hint!) Seriously, I would love you to join me for this experimental 4 week on-line introductory series.
Otherwise I’ll see you here next week!
Vicki Dello Joio is a speaker, performer, teacher and creator of The Way of Joy Spiritual Fitness Program. Integrating over 40 years of Chi Kung practice with other martial arts as well as her work in Yoga, Feldenkreis, physical fitness and theater, Vicki has developed a dynamic set of tools to increase awareness, transform obstacles into opportunities and enhance creative potential.
I believe that welcoming the cycles of expansion and contraction is vital to our harmony.
The natural world teaches us there is a time to open, a time to close, a time to be at full peak, a time to lie fallow. I can think of no expansion on this planet of living beings that is not followed, in some way, by contraction, which in turn is followed by expansion, then by contraction. The pattern is simply part of being in a living, breathing world.
To polarize aspects of these cycles as “good” or “bad” means that we end up separating from the world around us—a world where blossoms open to the sun and close at dusk, where the ocean swells and recedes with the tides, where day turns to night which then turns to day, where our very breath and pulse depend on the constancy of the expansion and contraction of our lungs and our hearts. — The Way of Joy
What is one of the lessons you’ve learned during a time of post-expansion contraction?
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries. Actually, to be totally honest, it’s a theme I think about a lot since boundaries have been my “weak link” for much of my life. Here are some thoughts from my book…
“In Spirit, we are limitless space—we exist in infinity. As individual beings, our boundaries give shape to the expression of Spirit. I think that in order to have good boundaries, I need to tend to my own temple, cultivate that inner sanctuary, consider who I am as sacred and worth attention. This is an invitation to self-esteem.
If we understand Spirit as connection to all-that-is, and perceive we are literally made up of the same particulate matter and space as everything in our environment, we realize our boundaries are the container of that elusive substance. Our body is the vessel that makes us individuals, gives each of us a different face, a different perspective, gives us the gift of distinction. To experience the two together is to experience the “we are all one” consciousness at the same time that we discover and celebrate the richness of our diversity.
We tend to think of boundaries as separating us. However, when our boundaries are not intact, we either co-dependently merge identities or we stand apart, alienated. In both cases we miss the sense of true connection. Ironically it is actually our boundaries that provide the doorway to connection where we can feel both autonomous and where it is that we overlap or meet. When they are intact, we feel more connected to others because we are standing in connection to ourselves.” Excerpt from The Way of Joy
I believe every time we make a fundamental shift of consciousness and break open a circle (repeating dysfunctional life pattern) into a spiral, we face a kind of death. Sensing this impending death, we move through a period of fear, facing our demons. Like gargoyles, these demons are the protectors of the gates of transition. When you confront the gargoyles at the gate, you have three choices: to resist by running away and continue on the closed circle, to continue downward into an inverted spiral, or to spiral up and out. The Way of Joy
When I was writing the words above in my book, I think I was offering myself a reminder or blueprint to look at when I feel challenged. Like now.
As I have been reworking my business over the last couple of months, I have been profoundly inspired by the work of three important business mentors, Ann Evanston, Brandy Mychals and Vinca Heart. Each of these powerful teachers and mentors “walks her talk” with authenticity and grace. Each of them challenge me to dig deeper into who I am—for myself and then for my work in the world. So where does that take me? Bumping up into my own resistance and fear. Big Time.
Although I believe that this time of year can be hard for many people for many reasons, I was surprised to discover how relatively few articles there are offering tips to reduce stress at this time of year. So I laughed out loud when I saw a comment somewhere on-line that said “Want to avoid Christmas stress? Stay Jewish.”
For me, growing up with one parent who was Jewish, the other Catholic, Christmas won. That is, my family decorated a tree, left cookies for Santa and inevitably had some kind of painful fight before the day was done.
By the time I left home, I’d had it with Christmas. I just didn’t like the various pressures, the crazy-making swing between expectations and disappointments, the invisibility of the Jewish part of my heritage, and the general atmosphere of not-enough-ness — not enough presents, money spent, love connections, laughter, and well, Joy.
So when a dear Native American friend told me that she found it odd that the dominant culture here held a “give away” (gift exchange) during a season when the natural world was pared down to its least abundance, I began to think about what this season of Winter Solstice, the day that are more hours of night than sunlight, might hold for me, I began to align with what the true gift of this season might hold for me.
Vicki Dello Joio, founder of The Way of Joy: A Spiritual Fitness Program, is a teacher, speaker and performing artist. Integrating over 40 years of Chi Kung practice with other martial arts as well as her work in Yoga, Feldenkreis, physical fitness and theater, Vicki has developed a dynamic set of tools to increase awareness, transform obstacles into opportunities and enhance creative potential. Book: The Way of Joy: An Evolutionary Process to Awaken Inspiration, Focus Intention and Manifest Fulfillment, CD: Short Meditations for a Busy Life.