Our culture is so powerfully focused on growth, expansion and achievement that it’s hard to remember that Earth is a place of cycles and that, no matter how we struggle and kick, cycles affect us every day. Economic cycles… life cycles… relationship cycles. Even cycles affecting weather, health, work and play.
With that in mind, have you ever observed your personal cycles and used the unique energies of each phase to create a better life experience? It’s really quite easy. Here’s how:
Start by looking out your window. The moon waxes, wanes to darkness and waxes to full light again. Seasons cycle from spring to summer to fall to winter and back to spring every year. Ancient peoples had to learn to work with seasonal cycles to survive, but how can those lessons apply today?
Spring looks easy. Flowers are blooming, days are longer, opportunities and possibilities are everywhere. The challenge of spring is discernment, attention to detail. You get so excited about grabbing all the goodies that you forget to ask questions, to look closely at what you’re planting.
Spring teaches you that care in the beginning is important, whether it’s a job or relationship or new exercise program. Look at what’s new and ask yourself: “Will this be something I want to harvest in the fall?” Could a new lover’s possessive behavior lead to a crop of unpleasantness? Could this new employer’s eagerness to keep me busy be a way to prevent my asking some important questions about compensation, job description, responsibilities?
Everything’s going gangbusters. Crops are shooting up, the sun is inviting you out to play, your star is on the rise at work. What’s to learn? The lesson of pausing to check everything, the lesson of tending to each part of a project – weeding, watering, fertilizing, trimming and thinning all can make for more abundant crops.
Perhaps you’re planning to be married. The wedding’s set, gifts are arriving, everything’s taken on a life of its own – you’re having cold feet. Time to do some weeding. Or, you may be doing so well at work that people are piling on new projects at a mad rate, but you’re starting to falter. Then it’s time to do some thinning!
There’s plenty to celebrate in the fall – a project completed successfully, an anniversary, your child is going off to college. You made it! It’s “count your blessings” time – time to share the glory, time to store what you’ll need for winter, and what you’ll want to re-plant in spring. There’s also something poignant about fall which is important to remember. It signals the beginning of the end of this particular cycle, and your next cycle will be more successful if you take the time to evaluate what’s gone before, and begin to plan what you’ll do in the next cycle. Think of it as if you’re going back to school (and maybe you are!) and planning for the year ahead, while looking back at fond summer memories – reflecting on what you’re taking away from them (time spend in nature, with loved ones, etc).
There are two important winter lessons. First, spring always follows behind winter so remember, where there is life there will be renewal. In fact, green shoots that will show in spring actually begin to sprout underground when the winter season begins. Winter is a rest stop of sorts, your opportunity for reflection, re-evaluation, realignment and letting go. Ancients repaired tools, sorted seeds, and deepened their family and community relationships.
Applying winter’s lessons to your marriage or other relationships could mean a renewal that might have seemed impossible. You could do a retreat or weekend trip together, a quiet time which supports reflection and honest assessment of what’s working in your relationship and what’s not. What do you want to keep and re-plant in spring. Or, what’s no longer useful?
Things can get tricky when you have more than one cycle in your life at a critical point at the same time and they aren’t in the same phase. Say your star’s rising at work and you suddenly have a health problem that seriously affects your energy levels.
Your health challenge gives you the opportunity to apply winter lessons to the whole situation, and because your job is in a summer cycle, it has the energy to take care of itself for awhile. Your health forces you to reflect, re-evaluate, sort your priorities, and if necessary build relationships at work to allow you to delegate some of the day to day tasks at work so you are free to deal with your health issue.
Always remember, no matter how rough your winter cycles have been, spring will come. Where there is life, there is always renewal.
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