Fish Sinking to the Bottom of an Icy Pond
“The three months of winter are called closing and storing. Water freezes, earth cracks...Make that which is of the heart/mind as though hidden, as though (one) has a secret intention, already obtained… Leave the cold, seek warmth.” -The Yellow Emperor’s Classic
The Winter Solstice is here again, a time to let the mind and heart sink down into the body. The quiet time of Winter is seen in nature, when squirrels, birds, and rabbits stay close to their nests except at the warmest parts of the day. So too can our plans and decisions quietly wait for Spring, like a lone lantern, lighting the house after the sun goes down. Safeguarding our energy, building our reserves, and waiting for Spring can allow our dreams, goals, and plans to sprout and grow when the days grow longer and the buds sprout.
Autumn precedes Winter and is a time where we gather the fruits of the year’s labor and let go of what isn’t needed. In Winter, the water element represents the dominant energy. Water sinks deep into the earth, is used for nourishment, and becomes still when undisturbed. The natural path of our energy in Winter is to sink into our body. We can encourage the stilling of our internal energy through our actions and the planning of our calendars.
Tao Yin (Taoist yoga) is a slow and gentle exercise performed on the ground. It involves opening the hips, stretching the psoas muscle, lengthening the spine, and allowing the muscles and tendons to relax. Deep breathing is combined with conscious movements to open the body and bring it to a resting state. Think of a seed sinking into the earth and waiting for the first thunder cracks of Spring to split them open to begin their growth. Thus we breathe into the center of our belly and store our vital energy for use in the future.