"The greatest gift one can give is thanksgiving. In giving gifts, we give what we can spare, but in giving thanks, we give ourselves." David Steindl Rast
A thankful heart sees herself brightly, reflected upon the clear, deep water of our shared destiny, weathering the turbulence and the bliss along the surface. To all my fellow travelers on this earth and in this unruly, yet splendid time, my hope is we will all have in some way a blessed, honest, and full hearted Thanksgiving this year.
As you enjoy your holiday and your everyday thanks, here are some ideas to reflect upon as we move from autumn harvest to winter preservation, rest and recuperation:
"Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet. Believe in humanity*. Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place. There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in,” Phillips Brooks [*word change, mine]
“After everything that's happened, how can the world still be so beautiful? Because it is.” Margaret Atwood, in “Oryx and Crake”
"I don't always start drinking at Noon on a Wednesday, but when I do, it's Thanksgiving weekend." (seen on Your Tango)
"May the wishbone break in your favor." (anonymous)
"To attract good fortune, spend a new coin on an old friend, share an old pleasure with a new friend, and lift up the heart of a true friend by writing his name on the wings of a dragon."
Winter Qigong Cultivation: Keeping your sense of purpose alive when all seems cold and dark.
Poem by Wang Zhi (Ming dynasty poet):
“The autumn wind blows on the old tree in the courtyard, The guest comes through the flying leaves of yellow and red. A light in the temple and a half moon beside it, Tonight is colder than last.”
Translation provided by China Culture (.org)
The season of Winter and the Water element are associated with the Qi operating in the kidneys in Traditional Chinese Medicine/Philosophy. Cultivating balanced Kidney Qi offers support for those who struggle with common issues of our times: deep fear, trauma, feelings of isolation, not belonging, or being overstressed, exhausted, emotionally spent. These emotional patterns often manifest as insomnia, arthritis, some neurological conditions, kidney, bladder, or bone problems. The kidney energetic system is responsible for providing the energy to follow through (willpower), to know oneself deeply (wisdom) and to replenish the body/mind for renewal. Because it bears the brunt of daily stress, this energetic system is much like a battery that needs to stay charged to work best.
“They who sing through the summer must dance in the winter.” Italian Proverb
Dances with autumn leaves Dancing turns cold Still dances with Winter
(photos: Cyndi Clark)
As a holistic practice, psychological, emotional, and spiritual qualities are also considered in Qigong practices. The connectedness we cultivated in the autumn through lungs and the breath ironically nudges us indoors as the air gets cold and the frost begins to settle. The inwardness of wintertime often has us meditate on destiny- why are we here? If we know this answer already, how can we expand on it when the time is right with resolve and courage, releasing the obstacles of chronic fear, loneliness, separation, and minimal self-reflection? How do we access and act with respect to those things we know about ourselves deep in our bones? Those who are working on Root and Navel chakra issues- courage, resolve, belonging, creativity, and sexuality- can benefit from having balanced and harmonious kidney Qi. With these n mind, I made short video that I hope you will try to start your Winter Qigong practice.
Probably my favorite poem on destiny and purpose resurfaced on one of my social media feeds at the beginning of this week that I'd like to share with you; and for those brave souls who would like to examine further below, the I Ching reading that was cast for this week I think follows right along with this theme of destiny, wisdom, and celebrating with all having gratitude.
A Sleep of Prisoners, Christopher Fry:
"Dark and cold we may be but this
is no winter now.
The frozen misery/of centuries breaks, crack, begins to move.
The thunder is the thunder of the floes.
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now when wrong
comes up to face us everywhere
never to leave us till we take
the longest stride of soul we ever took.
Affairs are soul size,
the enterprise is exploration unto God
Where are you making for?
It takes so many thousand years to wake.
But will you wake for pity's sake?"
Thank you for being part of this community of Qi people! Please, as always, feel free to comment, discuss, or suggest subjects you'd like to see in the blog moving forward. I'd love to hear from you.
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For those following the Yijing 2021 project, here are notes on the reading for this week:
As an old day draws to a close, the new one, unfolding for a while now begins to show signs of itself. A new day, destined, but hard won is cause for celebration shared for the benefit of all without holding back. That's my take on it and I'm sticking with it.
November 21st through November 27th, 2021
50- Ding/ The cauldron/ Establishing the New; changing lines 2,3, and 6 to 16- Yu/ Enthusiasm
50: Ding/ Establishing the New (from Huang, 397): Theme is laying down or making the new order after a revolution has been won. In the ancient Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties, once a new emperor was empowered, “…the first thing done was to cast a new ding and inscribe the new constitution on it, symbolizing that a new era had begun.” Fire above Wood is an image of cooking, nourishing, entertaining of guests and families. The ding was a bowl out of which the meal would be served in ceremonies. Associated month is July. Ding was last drawn for this project on 10-24; line 6 was changing then, too. The solar term that week was “shuang jiang”- frost’s descent- or Fall begins to take a full shape. This week begins the term, "xiao xue", or small frost, the one right before winter begins, "li dong".
The changing lines:
Line 2: “Sacrificial vessel: full. Be cautious about where he goes. My mate has illness. No fault in the end.” Good fortune indicated in the image of a neighbor’s illness not being able to affect oneself.
Line 3: “Sacrificial vessel, ears removed. It loses what it should be.” Also- "Sacrificial vessel, ears removed, activities are obstructed. Pheasant gravy, not eaten; when rain falls, regret vanishes. Ends in good fortune." Good fortune in the end, after a cooling off period (after the rain falls and one can touch the vessel again, maybe? A ding without a way to affix a handle would be hard to move because of the heat.)
Line 6: “The jade handle is in the highest place. The firm and the yielding complement each other properly.” The jade handle goes into the “ears” on the side of the ding. The line indicates leadership that has higher order wisdom and embodies virtue; this kind of leader was thought to have the blessing of Heaven- the Mandate of Heaven fulfilled, there is nothing but good fortune on the way.
Nuclear/ Mutual: 43: Guai/ Eliminating and 39: Jian/Hardship- themes are of eliminating excess to deal with anything that cripples progress; setting apart the “good” from the “evil”, or hesitation from resolve
Opposite: 9: Xiao xu/ Little Accumulation – theme is the little things that nourish; storing up strength and energy and realizing when there is a need to do that. Self-care so as not to become depleted. As opposite to Ding, with its theme of celebration and generosity shared with all, this seems to suggest that when one can afford to be generous with others, it should be done as opposed being miserly or withholding. In other words, don’t be a Scrooge if you don’t need to. The solar term xiao xue starts this week on 11-22; though xu in the hexagram means accumulation and xue in the solar term means frost, frost is a small accumulation of ice or snow. I find this interesting.)
16- Yu/ Enthusiasm/Delight
The word yu means delight (ancient); a modern interpretation is peace and happiness. This is like the feeling after the harvest when it has been good, so good in fact that one can share one’s bounty with others without hesitation, greed, or hoarding. It represents a celebratory mood, generosity, gift giving. Thunder is above the Earth; the primary motivating force and the primary receptive force are in sync. Time for music and dancing; rhythm and harmony. Associated month is April.
Commentary on the symbol: “Thunder comes out of the Earth, Rising and stirring; An image of Delight. In correspondence with this, the ancient king composed music to honor virtue and merit; with ardent eagerness, he offered it to God and shared it with his ancestors.” (Huang, page 158)
Huang, pages 156-163
Main reference: Taoist Master Alfred Huang, pages: 397-404 “The Complete I Ching: 10th Anniversary Edition”
King Wen sequence:
The hexagram before 50 is 49, whose theme is revolution. King Wen is credited with ordering the 64 hexagrams into themed pairs, which wasn't done in the more ancient oracle. In this way, abolishing the old ways transforms naturally to establishing the new ways. For this reading, it may offer clues to what has gone before that set the stage for the current moment.
49: Ge/ Abolishing the Old; 2,3,6 to 10: Lu/ Fulfillment
For 49 (pp. 389-396)- Ge/ Revolution: Lake above, Fire below. King Wen abolished the Shang dynasty through a carefully planned, perfectly timed revolution, then set about establishing a new order. Before one can establish a new order, the unusable, unworkable, or corrupt ways of the old order have to be challenged and changed. If successful and well supported by the people, then the way is clear to start with a clean slate. The symbol for lake represents water which can extinguish fire and, of course, likewise, fire can make water dry up, so this hexagram shows that these equally powerful forces can destroy each other. The hexagram has a connection to the one for Diversity (38) with its advice about the handling of conflict among diverse people who have myriad viewpoints. Whereas in Diversity, the two opposing forces separate and go their own ways (represented by two sisters who disagree and one leaves the home), hence the conflict is resolved, in Revolution, they continue in the same house and stay in conflict, necessitating a revolution- a fundamental change in the household. Month associated is April, the month after the Spring Equinox.
Decision: “Proper day. Upon it obtain confidence from people. Supremely prosperous and upright. Regret vanishes.”
Commentary on the symbol: “Fire in the midst of the Lake. An image of Abolishing the Old. In correspondence with this, the superior person watches the changes of the planets and sets the calendar in order. Making the time of the seasons clear.”
The lines, briefly: 2-this line advises to do the revolution; it’s the right time to move forward; 3- advises not to foment revolution until the idea has a sincere following and that one is truly ready to make such sweeping changes; 6- this line indicates that the revolution is over and has been won, so there is no need to carry it any further. "Superior person changes like a panther. Inferior person only changes his face." Master Huang explains that the “ancient Chinese believed that color and specks of a panther change according to the seasons.” The line is a warning to the new leader to renew and acclimate him/herself to this new era as would be done in a seasonal change while also being wary of those followers who have only changed their faces- they will probably try to make a comeback.
For 10 (pp. 110-116)- Lu/Fulfillment: (Huang, p. 111): “The structure of the gua is Heaven above Lake below. The attributes of Heaven are strength and energy; the attributes of Lake are meekness and gentleness. The image gave King Wen the inspiration that a cautious person handles a dangerous situation as if treading upon a tiger’s tail. This was exactly the situation King Wen found himself in when he was fulfilling his obligation of rescuing people from suffering under the tyrannical administration of the Shang dynasty. He treaded upon the tyrant’s trusted minister instead of upon the tyrant.” “Fulfillment” creates the foundation for conduct that is moral- good fortune comes from carefully performing one’s duty in the face of danger. The duties mentioned as ones that everyone should follow are courtesy and righteousness. Month: July, the month after the Summer Solstice has occurred.
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