Did you jump on the “new year, new you” bandwagon?
This catchy phrase is now trotted out every January as inspiration to help us make and stick to resolutions.
And I’m pretty tired of it for a number of reasons.
First of all, we don’t need new selves.
We don’t want a blank slate and we don’t want to start over, as appealing as it sounds.
We desperately need who we’ve been before because it informs our present and future.
When we acknowledge and integrate past experiences, we become more whole, purposeful, and loving people.
If we stuff down or disconnect from uncomfortable events or situations we’re doomed to repeat the patterns of our past selves.
This is true even in cases of deep trauma, though it can be a slow, careful, multi-year process of unfolding.
YOU are great already.
Please don’t feel like you need to start over from the ground up, which this new year, new you mantra implies.
Embrace you. Love you. Learn from you.
Second, contrary to popular belief, this is not the best time of year to dive into an ambitious fitness or personal growth journey.
Outlining goals and plans for ourselves and thinking ahead about how we want our year to progress is a great exercise.
But executing those visions… well… that’s best left to a few months later according to Chinese medicine.
We see proof of this all the time in the endless jokes in pop culture about sticking to our resolutions for a month, a week, or a day, then giving up on them.
This is especially true around fitness goals.
We often turn inward and blame our lack of commitment, energy, or inability to prioritize for our short-lived ambition.
But there’s a key underlying thread most of us are unaware of.
We’re not living with the seasons.
In modern culture we don’t give enough creedence to how much the time of year impacts our thoughts, mood, health, and much more.
Seasonal rhythms and their effect on us are an important and very undervalued piece of the pie.
Chinese medicine teaches that winter is a time of rest and rejuvenation. A quiet, still time where we restore from the hustle and intensity of the rest of the year.
It’s a time where resources like our energy, time, and previously food stores, are carefully guarded. The priority of the body and mind are to preserve and protect us to ensure we survive until spring.
Winter is the time of the dormant seed.
Planted, but not yet growing. Waiting, but not yet ready to sprout.
Pushing ourselves into doing all the things in the dead of winter is in direct conflict with the seasonal forces.
New beginnings and uninhibited growth belong to the birth energy of the spring season.
Winter, a much maligned season, is a magical time of transmutation.
Where the death of fall fades into the life of spring.
The natural stillness and quiet are the crucial space needed to begin the cycle again.
Rest in the western world is regarded as lazy and indulgent, when truly it is an incredibly productive time for us to renew ourselves and prepare for the upcoming year.
So if you’re struggling to keep up with your resolutions or new goals, allow them to fade to their natural place of rest, stillness, and potential.
Plant the seeds of new beginnings and allow them to break through the surface of the earth in their own time when the days are longer and the bright, vibrant energy of yang is stronger.
Enjoy the winter as a time of deep inner peace and quiet and reconnect with the natural rhythms of the world.
Life gets easier when we tune into our environment and live in alignment with it.