Have you ever read the children’s book, Fredrick, by Leo Lionni? It is a family favorite of mine from when I was little and tells a wonderful story of mice in the countryside and their life through the seasons. In the fall, when all the other mice are busy gathering food and preparing for winter, one mouse, Fredrick, seems to be doing “nothing”. When asked and then reproached by his fellow mice, he peacefully replies that he is “gathering sun rays for the cold, dark winter days”. At another time he says he is gathering colors “as winter is gray”. Using his senses, he gathers the various nourishing Qi from the other three seasons, and then in his way, shares these treasures with his mouse family in the darkest times of winter.
I love this story. Fredrick’s quiet, peaceful ways hold much wisdom and inner permission for us all to do the same. Yes, we have our lives to live, work to do, families to feed, relationships to tend, and yet, our “work” of being and quietly observing, gathering, absorbing the beauty, magic and diversity of Qi around us throughout the year is also at the heart of nourishing our Lives and the Life and Lives around us. It is at the heart of my life and nourishes my soul deeply.
The practice and teachings of Qigong enhance this ability for me. It enhances the quality of my presence, and ultimately strengthens and deepens my connection with Nature, the Cosmos, the Beauty, Miracle of Life coursing within and all around me.
Like Fredrick, I actively, lovingly, eagerly, attentively gather the vast array of colorful Qi throughout the days, nights, seasons, years as we cycle around our Sun. Just as we must nourish our body with a diversity of fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, vitamins and minerals, observing, gathering and absorbing the diversity and colors of Qi around us and in each season is required to nourish ourselves on the physical, energetic and spiritual levels. And in the quiet and darkness of winter, Qigong can help us further ‘digest’ this gathered Qi and let it saturate and nourish our roots.
This past fall, I relished in the gathering of colors, smells, textures, images – the moisture in the returning rains mixed with the dryness of the summer soils, the rise of the autumn winds, movement of the clouds, fog emerging from the valley floor and caressing the forest’s tips, squirrels digging and planting seeds, the crisp air, the falling, floating and twirling of leaves down to the earth or onto the rippling flowing river waters. The sound of rain, streams, wind, seeing and listening to splashing and jumping of returning salmon… I listen to, observe, and feel it all within my own body.
And in winter, the plump earth aroma of moist mosses, frost on the tree branches and fallen leaves, cold rain creating growing rings, ripples in puddles under trees, dark clouds with sun illuminated trumpeter swans flying across the valley, chickadee and junko trills, songs of the varied thrush, and the calls of eagles. The almost midnight black wall of clouds rolling in from the north bringing cold winds, lightning and snow. Glittering, gleaming forests with beautiful snowy, sparkling ice crystals on all the trees and every long needle of the wondrous ponderosa pines. Waves of translucent icy fog fingers pouring into valleys of shimmering frozen trees. All these images, moments of wonder, sounds, smells, delights, textures, beauty, movement, darkness, storming, sparkles, quiet and awe – all of it I touch and gather inside me. It is a part of my learning, growing, and ultimately my inner cultivation. For going out in Nature, is really going within.
For me, living my colorful life is intimately connected to my presence, appreciation and reception of the sheer wonder, beauty, love and miracle of life found all around me and everywhere in Nature. And Qigong is a tool for expanding my capacity to do this, to both give and receive and to feel my interconnection and belonging to this amazing Earth and Cosmos. It is a way to open to the Dao, opening to harmony, wisdom and happiness.
What does living a colorful life mean to you? How do you enjoy gathering the diverse colors and Qi of the seasons, the sunrises, sunsets and all the moments of magic in between?
As we feel into this dawning new year and with the Lunar New Year of the Emerald Dragon approaching, I invite you to join my upcoming 6-week Winter into Spring Qigong Class. This is a wonderful “sampler” course offering an array of tools, methods for gathering such magic as well as digesting it and nourishing our roots deeply. Let us live our colorful lives and nourish ourselves as we move from deep Winter into Spring together.