Very Happy Lunar New Year greetings to you all! In keeping with our annual tradition at Energy Arts and The Tao Space, I’d like to say a few words to reflect on the year that has passed and look ahead towards what is to come.
Year of the Metal Ox
2021 is the year of the Metal Ox. Officially the Lunar New Year begins on Feb 12th, but the ancient Taoists used the natural energy that occurs during changes in seasons, lunar cycles, and celestial events to tune into the transformations that are constantly occurring within human beings, the earth, and the heavens. Sometimes these changes are sudden, sometimes they are gradual. But one thing for certain is that they are never ceasing and the closer we listen, the closer we can get toward being in accord with them and with the nature of the Tao itself.
The changeover to a lunar new year is an ideal time to focus on its inherent qualities and use them to enhance your personal practice. The better equipped you are to do this, the more they will assist you in your meditation and your qi cultivation.
The Chinese astrological system is vastly complex. The two most prominent aspects are the 12 animals and the 5 elements which intersect to generate a 60-year Lunar cycle. Being an Ox myself in both the Eastern and Western (Taurus) astrological traditions, I am very well acquainted with its qualities. First and foremost, these include steady, methodical perseverance: the ability to set a goal and work towards it no matter how far away it may seem. The Ox is the ultimate image of steadfastness and sense of purpose.
The metal element is, of course, related to intelligence and mental activity. This will be a good year to focus on such endeavors. (If you are a qi practitioner, it’s a great time to focus on the brain, spine, and nervous system.) But unique to this year is the ability to use the gravity and steadiness of the Ox to keep you grounded in your thinking as well as your energy.
Lao Tzu himself was the supreme example of this as he rode an Ox into the mountains, which we can take as a metaphoric example of how to ride the steady underlying current through the swirling waters of daily life…
I recently covered these topics in a Tao Space Live meditation class. Included here is a short excerpt of that which I hope you will listen to and find inspiring as we move into this new year.
As mentioned before, one of the signature qualities of the Ox is the ability to persevere and continue. The strength to methodically plow toward whatever it is you have set your mind to regardless of circumstances.
To say that I’ve experienced some major ups and downs in my journey through the internal arts and meditation would be a major understatement. In my decades-long odyssey throughout Asia devoted entirely to training, I experienced injuries, exotic illnesses, poverty, disappointment, an accident that nearly broke me in half, and everything in between.
At the same time, I also had the privilege of studying with some of the greatest living masters in Asia that led me into places in the mind I didn’t even know existed. I also felt more alive, full of qi, and awake than I ever dreamed was possible.
When studying with my greatest teacher, the Taoist Sage Liu Hung Chieh, I would sometimes share with him a perceived personal achievement or particularly difficult stumbling block I was experiencing in my practice.
Some of his most consistent advice, whether what I was describing was “good” or “bad”, was “Keep Going.”
The energy of the Ox is ideally suited to that. The Ox is willing and able to put one foot in front of the other until it walks the proverbially 10,000 miles that the ancients spoke of.
Taking time to sit and meditate each day, finding stillness, having a positive agenda, practicing qigong regularly, and making the daily decision to treat yourself and those around you with care, can all help set you on the course of the Ox.
These are the single, well-chosen, deliberate footsteps that will chart your way, like an Ox trodding its path through the heavy snows of winter, knowing it will finally reach the glorious blossoming fields of springtime.
The decision to do so is yours alone, but I sincerely hope you decide to keep going as well.
Tao Space Update
The Tao Space is the name of our physical training center in Longmont, Colorado. This is our central hub, like a tantien for the entire Energy Arts community.
It’s certainly been an interesting cycle of “openings and closings” this year. Opening the doors to The Tao Space for regular weekly classes was the culmination of several decades of work to establish a permanent school where I can transmit the depth of the Taoist Water Tradition.
Yet with near-perfect comic timing, we were met with an unexpectedly abrupt “closing” cycle as Covid lockdowns drew things to a screeching halt worldwide. But dwelling inside of any set of circumstances are the seeds of its opposite.
This “closing” created the potential for an “opening” of rather dramatic proportions as we found a way to bring the school to the world online. Many of you have already experienced our “virtual school” which we call Tao Space Live.
This program gives students access to both live-stream broadcasts and recordings of every class and guided practice that we teach at The Tao Space.
Even in the midst of spending large portions of this past year cooped up, it’s been inspiring and comforting to practice along with the hundreds of folks tuning in online not only to TSL, but to our other virtual events as well.
In your own practice, you’ll watch these cycles of openings and closings play out in ways great and small in your body and your life. Extreme yin becomes yang, and yang at its extremity flips to yin. Apparent victories can become defeats, and out of some of the darkest depths, the light can emerge.
Good or bad, rain or shine, the important thing is to just stay with it, and that’s exactly what regular practice of Taoist arts gives you the tools to do.
In addition to the Tao Space Live program, we have some upcoming virtual weekend events that you’re welcome to take part in.
March 12-14 we’ll be hosting a weekend event exploring one of the most fundamental qualities of the internal arts…relaxation. It sounds simple, but how do you ACTUALLY relax and let go? We’ll be giving a focused look at truly embodying the skill of deep, abiding relaxation at all the layers of your body, energy, emotions, thoughts, and beyond.
May 7-9 we’ll be offering a Five Elements weekend with a focus on the Wood Element. Chinese cosmology associates each season with an element. “Wood” is the element of the spring. Balancing the energy of the Wood Element inside of yourself to harmonize with the season can be immensely beneficial and give your practice a big boost.
A question that may be on many of your minds is whether we plan to host summer events in 2021. Although specifics are still being ironed out, we do plan to host in-person events that also includes a virtual option. It’s our sincerest hope to share the Tao Space with you face to face, and hopefully, circumstances will allow us to do just that.
Stay tuned for an email that will give you all the specific details of these upcoming events.
Special Announcement: Tao Te Ching
Finally after many years of work we have completed a translation of the Tao Te Ching. This includes a massive commentary exploration into this Taoist masterpiece that was assembled in collaboration with Dr. Alan Peatfield. We are now in the final editing phase of bringing this project to you. There is still more work to be done, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel! We’ll have more updates for you as 2021 unfolds…
Here is a small excerpt from the book that you may enjoy:
Tao Te Ching Chapter 32
Tao everlasting, nameless.
Although simple and small, no one under Heaven can master it!
If dukes and kings could maintain it, the ten thousand things would naturally pay honour.
Heaven and Earth would unite together, thus sweet dew would descend, and all people, without commands, would naturally be in harmony.
Begin to make rules and names exist.
Names also exhaust existence.
Truly, action is also aware of stopping.
Be aware of the place to stop, so there is no danger.
Thus, Tao’s presence under Heaven
Is like springs and streams flowing into rivers and seas.
I would like to thank everyone in the wider Energy Arts Community, especially those who continue to support the longevity of this Taoist lineage by attending our virtual events and by participating in our Tao Space Live program. I wish everyone a powerful and stable year of the Metal Ox. May you work hard and make the best of the opportunities that come your way. I look forward to seeing and training with as many of you as I can in the New Year.
Founder, Energy Arts Inc.