Updated: Dec 22, 2018
(Enjoy Moby's "We are Made of Stars" by clicking the quote)
Winter sets in; as warm, faster energies of the environment begin to slow down, the air cools dramatically and physically, our energies begin to gather toward the center, as we need the warmth for our organs. Believe it or not, the Earth is actually closer to the sun. Even so, not much plant life grows and the days are darker, more dreary. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) at this time, due to the lack of exposure to sunlight, become depressed and feel disconnected. SAD can effect people all year long; when it occurs in cold seasons, cold symptoms result- lethargy and heaviness, weight gain, oversleeping. The symptoms are opposite in the warmer months-insomnia, weight loss, agitation/anxiety- still no fun. Grey moods can color our experiences of life- the music we are made of can seem melancholy with a sparse and sometimes harsh view out the window.
"Knowing the difference between your fearful fantasies and your authentic, accurate intuitions is one of the greatest spiritual powers you can possibly have. Let's explore what it means: discerning between the frightening, alienating pictures that sometimes pop into your imagination, as opposed to the simple, warm clear direction that is always available from the deepest source within you." Rob Brezsny, from "Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia"
Winter is a time for conserving energy, preparing the Mind/Heart and Body for the vitality needed for new growth and beginnings in the prolific Spring. Often, in the loneliness that Winter can bring, we contemplate Wisdom and the meanings of Life. At left is Mimi Kuo-Deemer doing Qigong that strengthens the Water element that is dominant in Winter, which helps our bodies regenerate the tissues and processes that keep us charged and vital, balancing our sense of purpose with our life's Destiny.
Jason Gordon (right) and William Kaplanidis (below) perform two more exercises to increase strength in the Kidneys; these have an added benefit of toning the bones, back, and joints.
These exercises can be done at any time of the year, but are especially beneficial for the Kidney, Urinary Bladder, Bones, and Joints if added to your practice in the Wintertime.
Adding seasonal forms to Qigong practice helps focus the attention on individual organs in the body ; the Winter season is considered the most Yin time of the year- dark, hidden forces are at work, cold dominates with heaviness in the air. Related to the Water element and the Kidneys, though, it emphasizes the kind of energy that flows, cleanses, purifies and most especially, renews. A primary "job" of the kidneys in the energetic system is to store essence (the stuff that cells emerge from) that regenerates and revitalizes us. But in such coldness, Water energy can sink our Spirits, drenching and dampening the Fire there and darkening the light, leaving things obscure and frankly, a little scary. We get out less, which can give rise to feelings of alienation and isolation. Issues may emerge for us that include feelings of loneliness and disconnectedness can make us fearful about our place in the world. A toxic emotion that can arise in the Winter is Fear- of the dark, of the unknown, of not being sure or not belonging. Will the sunlight ever come back? I want my mommy! These thoughts are all challenges to remember why we are here, what is the mission and how to use willpower- can we cultivate the courage in these colder times to discover who we are, to see ourselves in the mirror of crystal deep blue ocean, or will we sink further in the dark, fearful abyss of who we are, afraid of what changes self-discovery will require of us? The Kidney system is connected through the Water element to the deep well of Wisdom, storing Universal knowledge as well as self knowledge.
Warm Hearts Reborn from the Ocean of Coldest Space
We are worlds on a world
made from the songs
in the dying Heart of a Star
-the luminous last gasp of
an old celestial Mother who once had her own dreams-
now passed on we are
flung outward and plunged alone inward
a message of the un-yet, unmet
intentions in her deepest layer
retaining that soft inner nugget as a
kind of sacred totem standing
in the direction of who we are
when we unravel Her Heart’s
original message, we too become
a fullness of thunder songs and wind
subtle, but evident sounds of
coming together, just so
no fear, Wisdom reflects the Fiery Spirit
from her deep Black Water core
we are still there, like roots, dreaming
"Don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots down there are riotous." Rumi
"According to this theory, a Primordial Sound emitted from a central spiritual source and created the entire physical universe.” Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson
In many cultures around the world, the Universe as we know it is believed to be created by sound- the silence broken by YHWH's command, "Let there be Light," an exhalation of the musical sound of "OM", or a combination of Divine tones that had the power to form and shape living, physical things. Outside of the religious context, scientists tend to agree that it all started with a Big Bang. Ancient Daoist shamans (Wu Yi) understood sound to be vital to the formation of our Universe and they theorized that Divine pitches were encoded into the human body before birth. They “…believed that music was the basis of everything; that all things, including the human body, were molded according to the music performed within its substance.” (Johnson, p. 209) In other words, each person could be described as an individually composed work of music, each with our own blend of notes- harmonious or disharmonious, and our unique songs could fit into broader societies that also follow a unique musical pattern, which fits into the Universal- the overarching Divine symphony.
"Music of the Stars", published on YouTube by Jan jmr-(thank you)
What stars talk about when someone is looking.
From a Zhengyi Daoist text, (translated by Jerry Alan Johnston):
“Before the sacred sounds were heard,
the stars were not in their place,
when suddenly the Yuan Qi
from the Three Regions gushed forth,
producing the Eight Notes of Harmony.
These sacred sounds coagulated
in the center of the Wuji,/as billowing clouds,
spinning and turning
above the Purple Heavens.
Now floating, now sinking,
in accordance with the natural,
being neither smoke nor dust,
neither vapors nor steam,
they formed characters
ten thousand yards square
resounding with the Eight Notes,
expressing the essence
of the Three Energies,
and subtle manifestations of the 5 Elements.”
The definition of music derived from the ancient Chinese “yue”, according to Erica Fox Brindley, carried with it both aesthetic and political implications. She explains, “…the core meaning of "yue" in many of the texts I examined points most directly and fundamentally to sound and the patterning of sound through a combination of tunes, rhythms, and harmonies.” (p. 6) In her work on the history of music in ancient Chinese culture, she found that it wasn’t until the Qin dynasty (221 BCE) that the first written references connecting the concept of harmony with patterns of the cosmos and hence formed an ideal for the organization of empires, communities and peoples. It was then that the term harmony began to be used “…as a verb…that describes the actions of a virtuous ruler in relationship to his populace.” Although her work in this book is not directed in depth at religious or medical uses of sound-instead, she explores the socio-political uses of music- her adept examination of the history of Chinese music aids in understanding the insights about energetic patterns intuited by the early practitioners of Chinese/Daoist energetic medicine. Observing the timing of celestial events, seasons (of the Earth and of Humans), they grasped the idea that whole cultures of people and each individual are on the same basic wavelength as that of the Earth's cycles and the those of the Solar System (the Stars) and therefore, healing or well being requires balance-it must be a matter of synchronizing the smaller systems with the Universal template. This idea is the bedrock of all energetic therapies, which are man made efforts to develop the sounds of the Universe into healing technologies. “Harmonious music and harmonious society are man-made constructions that must be achieved through effort and finesse, not natural entities that may be discovered in the cosmos.” (P. 14) But, the ancient shamans knew, we are made of the natural components of the cosmos- the stars.
Fox Brindley, Erica, Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early China, (SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture, Roger T. Ames, Editor); State University of New York (SUNY) Press, Albany, NY, 2012. www.sunypress.edu
Johnson, Jerry Alan, The Secret Teachings of Chinese Energetic Medicine, Volume 1, 3rd Edition. Revised November 2014. International Institute of Medical Qigong Publishing House, Monterrey, CA 93940 USA.