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Resolution, Stillness, and Winter Wisdom

Happy New Year!

Often the beginning of a year brings many new acupuncture patients. People are feeling positive about the potential of new beginnings and many make resolutions to take better care of their health in the New Year.

This is GREAT! And, if you are curious about acupuncture and what it can do for you, this would be a wonderful time to get started.

Unfortunately, another common occurrence is that, while people are gung ho and excited for big changes on January 1, by the end of January or February, many feel like they have “failed.” Often people make the same resolution year after year, finding it difficult to make lasting changes.

In Chinese Medicine, winter is the time for stillness, storage, and reflection. So one cause for “failed” New Years resolutions could be that winter is not a natural time for change. If you look at nature outside, there is a quiet stillness. Animals are in hibernation, and the seeds are storing up their energy under the snow—waiting for the excitement and action that comes with spring when they will burst forth as new plants.

Humans can learn a lot from mirroring the rhythms of the natural world. Instead of kicking into high gear as soon as January 1 rolls around, it might behoove us to take the winter to reflect on the most skillful way of making change this year. Tune into your own stillness, and you may discover great insights.

Often, if we are able to get really quiet and look at our desire for change, we may discover something deep motivating our New Year’s resolution. For example, a person who makes a resolution to lose weight may be overeating to fill an unmet need for emotional nourishment. Or an inability to reduce stress may be based on fear of scarcity and a need to provide for one’s family. These are just examples, but they are real struggles that many people face. Without looking at the root of whatever it is we hope to change, the transformations we attempt have no foundation and are less likely to stick.

This same principle is fundamental to Chinese Medicine. The style of acupuncture I practice treats the root cause of the disease as well as the symptoms. These causes can be emotional, spiritual, mental or physical. By diagnosing and treating the root of an imbalance, symptoms clear up and we can effect true change.

Whatever your resolution is for the New Year,* take it slow. Don’t let yourself get sucked into cultural expectations of what change should look like, or become bogged down by your own mental chatter. Find the calm, deep parts of yourself, get to the roots, and prepare for the movement and hope that comes in the spring.

*If you don’t believe in resolutions or don’t like to make them, that is great too. There is a lot to be said for the present moment.

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