by: Austin Dixon
As we leave the Year of the Horse and move into the Year of the Sheep we can all take a breath of relief that things are about to slow down. Some of you may have felt the grace and beauty of the horse this year as well as its quick pace and fast changes. All aspects are good, but you may need to slow your roll and have a little more time to take it all in. Good thing the Year of Sheep will let you do that.
The Chinese New Year officially begins February 19, 2015 and lasts until February 7, 2016. The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, meaning the calendar’s dates indicate both the moon and the time of the solar year. The Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival as it marks the beginning of Spring. Technically, the Year of the Sheep begins on February 4, 2015 as it the official start of Spring (and to get really technical, that is our February 3, 2015). So if you have a baby February 3, 2015 or after, but before the 19th, it is still a Sheep according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar.
Ok, so now to what you really want to know. What to expect in the Year of the Sheep. First we have to think about the characteristics of a sheep. Sheep are calm, tranquil animals. They co-exist with other sheep, animals, and people. Given the chance, sheep are quick to learn and always work to maintain peace. They are soft and cozy and we use their fur to protect us from the cold. Sounds pretty good, right? Right.
The Year of the Sheep is going to be about peace, love, and compassion. We are living in crazy world where violence is sometimes chosen as an option to end conflict. The Year of the Sheep will show us that peace is more effective than violence and using mental force is better than brute force. Like the Sheep, when humans are given the chance to think, really think, they will make good decisions. Good decisions rarely, if ever, involve violence. This will not eliminate hate, anger, and ill intentions, but it will calm the storm for the time being.
The Year of the Sheep is a time for reflection, but not a time to get stuck in the past. It is a time to move forward. Slowly. Carefully. Compassionately. Notice what has not worked for you in the past, take the time to learn from it, and proceed forward. It is a time to get back to the basics and trust your intuition. Family and intimacy is of great value this year. Past relationships can heal if approached properly. It is also a great time to tap into your creative side. This will look different for everyone so have fun exploring what creativity looks like for you.
Now. Everyone can breath a little deeper. Proceed a little slower. And relax into the New Year. Let the chaos of the Year of the Horse settle and be grateful for the calm and warmth of the Sheep.
Tips on tapping into your inner Sheep:
- Try meditation. This does not mean sitting and not thinking about anything. That is impossible. It means sitting and being mindful of what you are thinking. You can use tricks like focusing on your breath. Or coming up with your own mantra (ie: “peace, calm, love”) and focusing on that. Start off with 3-5 minutes a day. If sitting and “not doing” is too daunting to start with try journaling. Just writing down every thought that passes through your mind for those few minutes a day will help you become more mindful.
- Build in moments of calm during your day. Enjoy a cup of tea everyday. Don’t do anything else at that time but enjoy that tea. Or take 5 minutes to read. Or watch a 5 minute Ted Talk on an interesting subject. Do whatever you like, the only requirement is to enjoy it and do it daily.
- Get Creative. Take a class. Bake/cook something new. Organize a photo album. Write. Draw. Doodle. Eat dessert before dinner. I don’t care what you do, just do something different. Step out of your routine. Creative does not mean art. Don’t get hung up on that.
- Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be mindful. When you are thinking those negative thoughts about yourself, change your dialogue. Those negative thoughts are violent acts to your spirit. You can not expect to treat others with the care and compassion they deserve if you can not do it yourself. It might feel like lying to yourself at first, but go for it. If you think you are a terrible cook, tell yourself you are a great cook and see what shifts. The worst that could happen is that your cooking stays the same, but at least you won’t feel bad about it. When we feel better about ourselves we feel better about others. Everyone will benefit from your self care.
- Think one nice thought about your worst enemy everyday. While this may be the least time consuming of all the tips, it is probably the hardest, but the most transformative. Remember we all make mistakes. We all do things daily that could be judged as negative. We all have different life experiences that shape us in different ways. Sending a mental note of compassion can help heal past relationships and strengthen present ones. And remember, some days we are our own worst enemy. Be kind folks. It is already a tough world out there.