Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Chinese New Year

As We Say Goodbye to the Tiger, the Year of the Rabbit is Most Welcome

An Ancient Tradition in Modern Times

As the most important and festive of the traditional Chinese holidays, the 2011 Chinese New Year of the Rabbit starts February 3 and will end January 22, 2012. The celebrations begin New Years Eve and continue until the full moon 15 days later.

Every year, the New Moon in Aquarius marks the Chinese New Year. Rather than have a fixed date each year, the Chinese culture tunes into more natural celestial events. Aquarius is the sign that represents humanitarianism so there may be something to this approach that we in the west can learn from this ancient civilization.

The influence of the Chinese culture is sweeping the world and for good reason. In its most pure expression, the philosophy underlying its traditional practices is Taoism, which is very holistic. Chinese Astrology, Medicine, Feng Shui, Tai Chi and Chi Gong all share a common holistic foundation.

The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old. Honored in countries with significant Chinese populations, it is also celebrated in countries that don’t recognize it as their own national holiday, such as Canada, United States and Australia. For many, the spectacular New Year parades throughout China towns are the main attraction, showcasing colorful costumes, elaborate floats and performances, fireworks, lion dances and the hundred foot-long dragon puppet made from silk, bamboo and paper.

The tradition is every family thoroughly cleans their house to sweep away any ill-fortune with the intention to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red color paper cut-outs with positive themes of "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". Living rooms are adorned with blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth, platters of oranges and tangerines and a candy tray with eight varieties of dried sweet fruit. The presence of the ancestors is acknowledged on New Year's Eve of the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated with a family feast. Each following day of the 2 week celebration marks customary activities, and the 15th day is the Lantern Festival celebrated at night, with children carrying lanterns in a parade.

The Year of the Metal Rabbit

According to the Chinese Five Element Astrology Calendar, February 3, 2011 marks the year of the Metal Rabbit, with Metal giving strength and endurance, and the elemental colour white. Known to be one of the luckiest and gentlest of the 12 animal signs, it is believed the year of the Rabbit will bring a welcome change after the fierce year of the Tiger which began February 14, 2010. Bringing a more congenial and diplomatic mood, the Rabbit symbolizes graciousness, good manners, sound counsel and kindness. It is said that the Rabbit year will bring more calm, peace or respite from conflict or war.

The Chinese New Year is a celebration of change; out with the old and in with the new! A Chinese proverb says that all creations are reborn on New Year’s Day. We can all benefit by celebrating this ancient tradition to bring renewal into our own lives.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Make 2011 a Clutter-Free Year

Are you weighted down by too much stuff?
Lighten the load this year and get the spring back in your step.

Stuff... we collect it, carry it around, live amongst it, and navigate our lives around it. Over time, the accumulation of “stuff” becomes clutter gathering dust, which then becomes useless junk that no longer serves a purpose. The consequence of being surrounded by clutter results in congested energy, blocked creativity and no room to allow prosperity to flow into our lives. Much like a detoxifying cleanse that is recommended for a healthier body and weight loss, freeing our home of accumulated clutter will result in a healthier and uplifted environment, and ultimately our state of being.

It’s said that a cluttered environment makes for a cluttered mind. The constant distraction and pull of random objects and piles of useless items around us only scatters and erodes our energy. True to the ancient science of Feng Shui, the movement of energy forces have an enormous impact on our psyche and emotional state. Like our diet, our home will ultimately nourish us or drain us.

As we begin a new year, why not enter it with a lighter load and fresh outlook? Perhaps it’s time for you to take stock of your possessions and evaluate if you have use for them anymore. Whether it’s clothes and shoes you no longer wear, old furniture, magazines and CDs, dishes, ornaments and trinkets, or cupboards full of old products, there are plenty of outlets that will gladly take used items, and you can feel good that you’re assisting others in need. You can approach the process with a light heart rather than as a dreaded chore, knowing it will benefit you and others.

When does nostalgia over an item become a weight? As the perception of what’s “junk” is subjective, it will be your personal decision for what no longer serves you. Ask yourself; does this item bring me joy and inspire me, or cause irritation and have uncomfortable memories associated with it? How would it benefit me to let this go? Have I used it in the last 4 months? Could it be of greater value to someone else? You can choose to release it with gratitude, as a completion and energetic cleanse for you, and perhaps the perfect find for another.

Why not start with your purse? Then turn to your home and clear the corners, entrance ways, window sills, closets, kitchen and bedroom drawers, under the sinks, the basement and garage. It’s vital to clear the foundation beyond just the surface, leaving nothing festering behind closed doors.

A helpful strategy is to arm yourself with some empty boxes and garbage bags, with the intention of categorizing your throw-away items for recycling, garbage, gifts to others, and second hand stores. Start with something that won’t overwhelm you and leave you feeling inspired; perhaps that might be de-cluttering your car! After clearing out the junk from your home, you might find yourself enthusiastic to continue revitalizing it by washing the walls – think of washing away years of old energy beyond cleaning off dirt and stains. Even more uplifting is adding fresh paint, new carpeting, flooring, curtains or blinds, new plants and better lighting.

The purging process of de-cluttering your home is a healthy and liberating Feng Shui process, and you will be guaranteed to feel uplifted and more peaceful. Don’t go through 2011 weighted down by unnecessary clutter. Make room for new energy to enter your life!