12 February 2021 marks the Chinese New Year. Among Asiatic communities, it is the beginning of two weeks of celebration. This year, we move from the year of the Metal Rat to the Metal Ox. I want to take this opportunity to wish you a happy, healthy and fulfilling year ahead and share with you the energetic significance of this time
First, let us talk about why the Chinese New Year should matter to us in the West.
Why the Chinese New Year is the real start of the year
According to the Chinese astrological calendar, the new year begins with the second new moon after the winter solstice. This is the moment in the cycle of the seasons when winter begins to transform into spring. We notice the days lengthening, plants begin to shoot, birds begin to sing and search for mates – this is the time of new beginnings. This is the time when the universe is calling us to wake up, get outside and become more active after winter’s hibernation.
Our western calendar is misaligned energetically
By contrast, the Western calendar marks the new year in the depths of winter. 31st December is a time when we should still be hibernating, sleeping longer, nurturing our energy within. It could not be a worse moment for making resolutions, changing our life and starting new projects. I am convinced that the energetic misalignment of the Western calendar is the main reason why we so often fail to keep our resolutions and the new projects we force our reluctant body and mind into, so often peter out.
Three pieces of wisdom for this time
So, now is the moment to align with the rising energy of spring. Here are my three key pieces of wisdom for this time:
1. Get up earlier and greet the sun
Get up earlier, go outside, move your body and (weather permitting!) greet the sun. Feel the warm yang energy on your skin, inhale this energy into your lungs, your third eye and through the pores of the skin. Fill yourself with the new energy of the morning and the springtime. Thank the sun for his gift of life. Thank the earth for nourishing and holding you.
2. Make just one or two key resolutions
Make just one or two key resolutions for the year ahead. These resolutions should be realistic and achievable. Make them about something that is within your personal sphere of influence – your own thoughts, words and actions. You have no control over the forces of nature and the actions of other people. It is pointless to set goals about things you cannot control. Make your plans but add the caveat “Gods willing”.
If you doubt my words, think back to this time last year, when most of us had never even heard the word Covid.
My own resolution for the year ahead is simple: to try to be tidier and put things away after I have used them. At first sight, this may seem mundane and inconsequential. However tidiness is, in fact, a spiritual practice that teaches reverence and gratitude. Taking care of our material objects helps us to perceive that everything, animate or inanimate is alive, imbued with consciousness and interconnected. Tidiness also deeply affects the quality of life of those we share our life with.
I think this is a good resolution!
3. Go gently
Yes, this is the time of new beginnings, but go gently. The renewed energy of this moment in the year is like a tender young shoot that needs to nurtured, not forced. Take small, careful steps. Lasting growth tends to be evolutionary. Revolutions almost always fail or turn bad!
How to align with the Chinese New Year
Hello Year of the Metal Ox
On 12 February we move from the year of Metal Rat to the Metal Ox. The metal rat year had a hard, fast, changeable, forceful yang energy. It hit most of us like a punch to the stomach and knocked us down with the Covid crisis. So many people are still dazed and fearful after this blow.
A more stable energy is coming
The Ox, by contrast, represents a more stable, patient, yin energy. The Ox has strength and can work hard, but its strength is slow and solid. The energy of Ox brings change and growth gently. Change that is deeply rooted and enduring.
To align ourselves with the energy of the Ox, we need to cultivate patience and persistence. The world situation remains difficult and volatile, but we can continue to cultivate ourselves inwardly. We can work towards our goals steadily and calmly, focusing on what is within our sphere of control and accepting and adapting to what we cannot control.
Set your compass course and then give attention to the journey not the destination
Once you know your goals and intentions, do not obsessively focus on them. Set your compass course and then give your attention to the process, to what needs to be done right now. Be in the present moment.
Each year in the Chinese calendar is assigned to one of the five elements, water, wood, fire, earth and metal.
The element of metal is associated with the afternoon and autumn. The yang qualities of metal include density, sharpness, structure and coldness.
The yin qualities of metal include freedom, detachment, letting go and clarity.
The elemental qualities of the year colour the animal qualities for the year. Expect the Metal Ox to have sharp horns!
The Metal Ox is a reminder to us of the value of self-discipline and being methodical and thorough in what we undertake. Do not fritter away your energy on matters that do not align with your purpose and values. Steady, daily persistence will win.
I Ching wisdom for this year
The I Ching is an ancient Chinese book of wisdom – perhaps the oldest book in existence. The text of the I Ching describes the cycles and states of energy of the universe, of nature and of human life through 64 hexagram symbols. The I Ching is best known as a book of divination, but at a deeper level it is a profound, all embracing spiritual philosophy that can guide us to deep self-knowledge and wisdom.
The energy of the ox is symbolised in the I Ching by the hexagram Lin which means “to deliver”. This symbol represents yang energy that is growing. It is like a pregnant woman getting ready to give birth.
Hexagram 19 of the I Ching - To Deliver
It also represents a lake within the earth. This is the symbol of transformation within stability. It is the image of a person with a stable, rooted mind able to perceive transformation and growth hidden beneath the surface. This is exactly the energy we need to cultivate in the post-Covid world.
Go gently but steadfastly into the year ahead
The wisdom of the I Ching for this time is to be steady and constant however hard and difficult are our circumstances. Whatever fate brings us, we can remain rooted in our virtue and our values and ensure that our thoughts, words and actions are impeccably aligned.
So, go gently but steadfastly into the year ahead. When we hold unwaveringly to our values, but let go of control, we learn to flow with what life brings us and turn it to the good. Our actions become effortless and results flow naturally.
How to align with the year of the Ox ?
Life can bring us unexpected gifts
And of course, life may bring us unexpected gifts. For us at La Source, the year of Covid has been a good year overall! A year that has given Kalyani and I more time together in the peaceful sanctuary of La Source. And a year that has brought a new member of our little community, someone whose good heart and incredible practical skills with his hands has transformed our land and our house beyond anything we could have done alone.
Thank you year of the Rat for both your gifts and your challenges.
Welcome year of the Ox for all that you will bring.
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Nick Hudis and his partner Kalyani Ma Mukti (Sandrine Periquet) are the guardians and resident spiritual teachers at La Source, a retreat and wellbeing centre in the Ardéche in southern France . You can learn more about their work here.