Welcome to the year of the serpent! For many years, I've given forecasts about a new year based on the ancient Taoist science of five elements cycle that predicts the macro trends that affect each of us on a personal level. Many people have shared with me their experiences with these forecasts and how they were better able to minimize the negative tendencies in their lives, be it health, relationships or finance, and accentuate the positives. You may find it useful for your life, too.
Before we look at what lies ahead for a new year, it's always wise to reflect on the past. The year 2012 was the year of the dragon, which was characterized by strong energy and powerful forces -- symbolic of dragon -- that when marshaled in the right direction can result in positive change. For instance, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was not only released from house arrest but won a Parliament seat in the military junta-controlled Myanmar and facilitated the lifting of economic sanctions against her country -- something that was unfathomable just two years ago.
However, the year also witnessed powerful forces of nature from the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, the wild fires that ravaged New Mexico and Colorado to the tornadoes that ripped through the South and the Midwest. There were also plenty of manmade tragedies, ranging from the lost lives from the civil war in Syria, the horrific shooting in a cinema in Colorado, to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, to name just a few. I think most people would agree with me that they are happy that the year of the dragon has finally come to pass.
So what can we expect for the year of the serpent? Elementally, 2013 consists of water and fire. Energetically, the water element is creative, flexible and powerful, while the element of fire is dynamic, passionate and unpredictable. The positive manifestations of these two energies are more optimism, creativity and entrepreneurial growth. On the other hand, water and fire are opposing energies, and therefore conflicts cannot be avoided. However, compared to last year of the dragon, conflicts in this year will be relatively calmer and more manageable, although there will be tension and mistrust beneath the surface.
Let's examine how the energetic cycles might affect the health in the five areas of your life, mainly physical, emotional, spiritual, moral and financial.
Water element relates to the kidney, bladder, adrenal gland, and the hormonal/sexual system. The fire element corresponds to the heart, circulation and vascular systems, which are sensitive to stress and blockages. In this year, one may experience a higher tendency for conditions involving heart, blood pressure, circulation, kidney, bladder, hormonal system, fertility, and adrenal glands.
Eat more beans like kidney beans, azuki beans, navy beans and black beans for their phytosterols, which are supportive for hormonal health. Drink cranberry, cherry juice and a little apple cider to keep the kidney and bladder from bacteria and uric acid. Try adding more spices and herbs into your diet, including my Heart Health Spice Blend (ground cinnamon, fennel seed, cloves, star anise, white pepper, parsley, ginger, cayenne pepper, turmeric) and Sexual Health Spice Blend (ground coriander, ginger, cayenne pepper, cloves, turmeric, curry, chili, fenugreek, fennel seed, garlic, cardamom, nutmeg, basil). Avoid eating red meat, dairy, fatty, greasy, deep-fried foods, processed and refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and sugar. I also recommend taking fish and flax oil, which are high in omega fatty acids and are helpful for the heart, circulation and inflammation.
Take care of problems when they are small by being proactive and seeking holistic care. Exercise consistently to keep your heart fit and help your body stay strong.
Water relates to fear while fire excitement, neither of which are healthy in excess. Fear paralyzes and consumes energy and prevents one from taking the necessary steps for healthy emotional growth and maturity. Thrill seeking, while exciting, can result in hyper-stimulation of one's nervous system. Both emotional states create stress that can harm one's heart and over-tax the adrenal gland, potentially upsetting both the hormonal and the nervous systems.
Meditate daily using guided meditations to lower your cortisol, stress hormone level, and increase endorphins, which helps you relax and experience inner peace. Tai Chi and yoga are also helpful. Keep a nightly journal to unload pent up feelings. Talk to a therapist or counselor. Cultivate a state of gratefulness.
The nature of water and fire is movement -- water tends to flow downward, while fire wants to blaze upward. With these two opposing forces colliding, the inner conflict between desire for the more material, especially coming out of several years of austere economic conditions, and the wanting to simplify for more satisfying spiritual life, will be more apparent. Material and spiritual can coexist to produce a constructive life when you seek balance.
The spiritual opportunity for this year is to work on strengthening your willpower, which emanates from your water element, and opening your heart. Increase acceptance of others and cultivate compassion -- all of which correspond to the fire element. Acceptance of others begins with acceptance of yourself -- embrace and love you with all the imperfections, just like the way a mother loves her child. Try reciting the simple but profound invocation: wo shin jing roo bai lian (my heart is pure as the white lotus blossom) and use it to work on your love, compassion and acceptance.
Your moral values govern how you interact with people and the world around you. This directly affects the health of your relationships, intimate or otherwise. And since the energies of 2013 portend a tendency for conflicts, you would be wise to strive for harmony. Since the subtle feelings underlying a relationship are often the saboteurs, it is important to identify what they are. The dynamic of water and fire, just like feminine and masculine, must be harmonized for a relationship to succeed. Since fear, mistrust and sadness cause one to close up and impede full exchange in a relationship, it's important to recognize these blocks and resolve them. All healthy relationships require patience, understanding and flexibility, which are the hallmark of the serpent.
Write down the blocks in your relationships. Is it fear of being vulnerable and potentially being hurt? Is it that you don't trust the other person due to your past experiences? Is it you being aloof and not fully committing, thus preventing the other person from trusting you? Make a time to discuss with the person your desire and concerns about your mutual relationship and work on the blocks together by practicing behaviors that bring more trust, understanding and forgiveness. Focus on specific behaviors and refrain from judgment and generalizing. Set times to review progress weekly and revise when necessary. Successful relationships require clear, calm and consistent communications and feedback. Get help from relationship experts when you need it.
The fire element tends to be excitable, dynamic and unpredictable. No wonder then during years when the fire element is present, the stock market is prone to more optimism and rises accordingly. The water element, on the other hand, is creative, flexible and powerful, so when combined harmoniously with the fire element it is a good year for entrepreneurial activities involving creative fields like entertainment media, fashion and technology. The housing sector will get a boost as well as those related to travel like hotels, restaurants and autos. Mining will also rise along with improving economy, which will happen most likely in the latter half of the year. Interest rates will surely begin to tick upward. Finance, banking and insurance will also do better than the past few years.
Engage a professional financial adviser or do-it-yourself with many resources available to help you take an inventory of where you are financially at present and make a realistic plan on where you want to be in the future. Set up a budget of savings and expenses and stick to it. Resist temptations with all the optimistic pronouncements in the news media and invest your money prudently with discipline. Review your progress regularly and adjust your strategies according to your goals and needs in the future. Don't forget to invest in yourself by increasing your knowledge base, upgrading your skills and expanding your network.
In summary, every year offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities. By following the guidance of the five elements in 2013 we can learn to ride the water wave and avoid being scorched by the fire. Have a happy and healthy year of the serpent.
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