where insight unravels
Every spring as the temperatures begin to rise and the earth awakes from its wintery slumber, the Maple tree’s sap begins to flow upwards to nourish the new growth of limbs and leaves.
So in the maple tree; so within us.
While our winter dormancy looks quite different, as the spring sun melts our cocoon and draws us out of hibernation, we too have a force rising within us. The same Yang energy that sends the sap up to the crown builds within us to promote our own growth and creative expression. However, when Yang rises to quickly, meets resistance, or can’t find an appropriate creative outlet, it often surfaces as Anger and frustration.
Shengqi, the Chinese word for Anger, translates as the qi that accompanies the growth of plants. Its necessary for plants and humans both to experience anger for it challenges us to find creative solutions to what stands in the way of our expansion. Consider the plant that has outgrown its pot, its roots grow in circles, looking for a way to grow beyond that which confines it. For the tree, gravity, temperature, and pests stand in the way of nutrients reaching the upper most limbs. It must excerpt its will and tenacity to persevere. We too must commit and recommit to our own growth every time we meet a new challenge.
Thankfully, the Wood Element of spring invites us to take a step back and get perspective on our situation so that we have a clear yet flexible vision and plan for growth. When the Maple tree’s branches grow up against a wall the tree quietly gets perspective on its situation, adapts to the new conditions, and keeps growing. We too have this healthy capacity to meet an obstacle, feel the anger that reminds us to get perspective, and find our creative solution to keep growing. When we supress our anger we also suppress our capacity for creative growth. Just as the tree aspires to grow towards the warmth of the sun, we must also aspire to newer, greater heights within ourselves.
This spring, feel the Yang rising and embrace the anger and qi that urges you to grow in new and creative ways.
Sources: Nourishing Destiny & Clinical Integration by Lonny Jarrett
This year I got to contribute to the International Women's Day campaign by the Women's and Gender Studies Department at Acadia University. Here's my reflection:
For me International Women's Day is a day of reflection and action. I take this opportunity to reflect on where I see, experience, and perpetuate patterns of inequality and disparity based on gender identification. This day is a reminder for me to explore the internalized patterns that inform how I think and act as a woman in my family and community. Often these patterns are strategies of safety and personal gain and they are so ingrained I barely notice them. However, they are also outdated, and if the resulting behaviour or action only benefits me and not our whole society, that behaviour or action needs to be examined. So on this day I recommit to asking those hard questions about what I gain from perpetuating my internalized assumptions and habituated behaviours and face the emotional and physical consequences of changing them.
I believe that choosing to challenge starts on the inside. I can only influence systemic change when I have challenged and changed my own assumptions and patterns, which can be an uncomfortable experience. However, I have a responsibility to evolve the way I see and interact in the world to not only support equality but generate a new way of collaboration and interaction between and among genders. I draw on my courage and bravery to commit to stepping into the new, unknown territory that change and growth inevitably reveal.
My work helps people rediscover their inherent self worth so they can stop basing their self esteem on how well they serve others, which often means putting themselves last. This inner value and confidence, which everybody has but may not access, is the foundation of the courage and bravery necessary to choose to challenge and responsibly change how we think, feel and act. This is where sustainable growth begins. Inner self worth enables our choice to take a step into the unknown as we move beyond our current understandings and operating systems to affect change inside ourselves as well as within our families and communities.
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
Occasionally Erica manages to capture her bursts of inspiration in writing - you'll find them here.