Lunar New Year celebrates the Year of the Rabbit
Lunar New Year 2023 falls on January 22, 2023. 2023 is a Year of the Rabbit, more specifically, the water rabbit. Each new year in the lunar calendar is represented by one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac, and in addition, each animal is also associated with one of five elements, namely, wood, earth, fire, water, and metal. These elements are each associated with their own "Qi" (pronounced "chee"), or life force, and each animal has their own special symbols and characteristics.
So, this year, the life force is water, and the animal is the rabbit. The rabbit has always been a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture, and the year of the rabbit brings peace, harmony, and tranquility to the new year. The water element helps make the animal more empathetic, meditative, and emotional. 2023, therefore, is being looked at as a year of hope, peace, meditation, and harmony.
Hope. Peace. Harmony.
I don't know about the rest of you, but a year full of hope, peace, meditation, and harmony sounds simply amazing. After the last two years of fear, illness, death, and turmoil, our stress levels are at an all time high and we are constantly being inundated with grim news, new statistics of death, and overwhelming amounts of negativity. Our minds are being assaulted with stressors, and there's only so much of that we can take. We have, collectively, as the human race, experienced a trauma - so many of our friends and family have died, you can't turn on the news without people fighting each other, and we become overwhelmed with a sense of despair, loneliness, and grief.
This year, wouldn't it be nice if peace and hope would take up residence in our minds and souls once again?
While there are still many problems in the world, COVID still exists, and for some, peace may be a fairy tale, there are still ways that we can channel peace and hope into our lives and into our daily routines.
First, start your day with acknowledging your stress. Yes, that might seem counter-productive - let me explain. Allow yourself a moment to recognize that yes, you have a lot of stressors in your life, whether it's Covid, inflation, or other personal stressors. Accept that yes, these are big stressors and validate your feelings of stress. Validate that your concerns and worries are causing you some anxiety. In other words, validate your feelings.
Next, identify the thoughts and practices of our day to day lives that are not helpful to our inner peace. Maybe you spend hours scrolling through the latest news or each time you're presented with a problem, you allow yourself to become overwhelmed with thoughts of "I can't do this", "If I don't get this done, something terrible will happen," etc. Identify those negative thoughts and habits and start to work on ways to slowly eliminate them. For example, maybe it's time to give up on the news for a little while. Yes, staying informed on current events can be important, but not at the expense of your mental health. If the news is truly impacting your inner peace, maybe it's time to eliminate it from your life for a time to allow your peace of mind to return and heal.
Start a daily routine of meditation, deep breathing, journaling, and reflection to identify your stressors and negative thoughts, redirect them, and look for a better outcome. For example, I know I stress out about missing things at work and having everything answered and taken care of. Now, I'm taking a look at what needs to be done, acknowledging that there's a lot to do, and compiling a reasonable list of things that I know I can accomplish today, without beating myself up for not being able to accomplish everything. I can only do so much without killing myself, so why am I stressing out about what I cannot physically and mentally accomplish? Here's a little secret – NO ONE can accomplish EVERYTHING. We can only do what we can do.
Think of it this way – we are a vessel of peace, of love, of joy, and of health. When we allow negativity and outside stressors into our vessel, what's already inside the vessel will start spilling out, and unless we take time to refill ourselves with goodness and peace, we won't have any left! And if we don't have any left for ourselves, how will we have any for the people we care around us? You cannot pour from an empty cup in the same way you cannot pour goodness from a cup filled with negativity. Isn't it worth it, then, to allow ourselves periods of rest and reflection to refill our vessel with peace?
Let's use 2023 as a starting point to look at what things are negatively impacting our lives, whether outside stressors or our thoughts from within, and let's start allowing hope and peace to have more room to flourish and blossom in our lives.