Boy am I excited today. May I present our first guest post in the Little Green Kettle, written by our mental health, meditation and wellness expert Verena Kacinskis. When Verena approached me with the project of writing about some of the areas she’ll be contributing to I was thrilled! As you’ll see below she’s simply a perfect fit for Little Green Kettle. Please join me in welcoming her aboard! Before we get to the wonderful post she has prepared for us today I want you to get to know her a little bit. This is Verena, our contributing writer in all areas related to mental health and wellness, meditation and much more. Welcome Verena and THANK YOU!
A bit about me…
I’m a Jungian Psychologist and BodyTalk practitioner. I was born in São Paulo, Brazil, but spent most of my life moving around with my parents and sisters due to my father’s work. So at the age of 23 I had accumulated the exciting figure of 2 countries, 5 cities, 21 houses, 11 schools, 2 universities and a lot of friends from a variety of cultures and languages. Then I thought it was time to begin my own story and stayed in Brasília, where I still live with my husband and Dexter, our cat. This awesome life experience shaped my worldview and taught me two important things: (1) to travel is to live and (2) the outside world is a small place; what is big is the world each person carries inside. To dive into our own inner world is, for me, the biggest of all adventures!
The Art of Living the Four Seasons
by Verena Kacinskis
Brasilia has funny weather. First of all, we have 6 months of dry season and 6 months of rainy season. Dry season is easy! We leave our umbrellas at home, we plan outdoor parties without fearing unwelcomed rain and we see a lot of motorcycles fearlessly riding down the streets. Rainy season is a whole different story. We joke about the rain in Brasília saying that it falls by zip code. That’s because you can literally be driving your car through a rainy street and turn the corner into a dry avenue. Just like that! So when it’s wet season and you leave home in the morning, you have to be prepared for anything!
We are now in the last few weeks of the wet season. Last Friday I decided to go out and it was dry and sunny in my neighborhood. I drove the 20km road that separates my home from downtown and when I was getting there the most unexpected storm started to fall! I was watching all these desperate people trying to open their umbrellas, running around in their wet shoes, trying to get to wherever they were supposed to go and in the middle of the chaos, I saw this guy on a motorcycle. He stopped at a bus stop, parked his bike, sat on one of the benches, grabbed a book from his backpack and started to read. That made my mind spin with all the things I’ve read and learned about the rhythms of life and nature. There was a man adapting to nature instead of struggling against it. The rain would stop falling in 30 minutes and he certainly would continue his trip to wherever he was heading. It just looked simple and natural! Well, I know that people have meetings to go to and classes to attend and not everybody can take the time to stop and read a book while rain falls on a Friday afternoon, but we can at least take some time to observe nature and its rhythm.
In fact, life is all about rhythm. Our body has a 24-hour circadian cycle – which is adapted to the day-and-night rhythm of the planet – and our cells have their own cycles within the circadian cycle of the body. Along with all that, we have our daily routines, our jobs, our workout practices, things that require discipline and motivation. I used to feel so frustrated when I started meditating and doing Reiki a few years ago and couldn’t maintain the same practice for more than 3 or 4 weeks! In my mind that meant I wasn’t being disciplined enough. Then I would force myself to do Reiki everyday at the same hour and what was supposed to make me feel good and relaxed ended up making me feel nervous and anxious. Then one day a friend of mine, who works as an acupuncturist, lent me a beautiful book called The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, which is an ancient Chinese medical text written almost two thousand years ago.
One of the most important things to do to maintain good health and live a long life, according to this piece of ancient wisdom, is to learn to adapt to the rhythms of nature. As individual beings, each one of us has different internal rhythms. This means that on a sunny day some prefer to jog (yang activity) while others prefer to read (yin activity). But besides that there are times when joggers want to stay home and readers want to go out and walk. Like animals and plants we too, says the Yellow Emperor, are subject to the four seasons of nature. So during the spring, when it is a time of birth in nature, we should rise and retire early because our energy is waking up from the long winter. During summer, when there is abundance of sunshine and rain, we should stay physically active, as there is plenty of energy (plants, fruits, sunshine) available in nature. In the three months of autumn the weather cools down and the wind begins to stir. It is time to remain calm and peaceful, gather energy and stay focused so we can make the winter transition smoothly. Winter is a time to stay warm, keep mental activity quiet, prevent from overusing our energy.
“So the full cycle can be seen. Spring is the beginning of things, when the energy should be kept open and fluid; summer opens up further into an exchange or communication between internal and external energies; in the fall it is important to conserve; finally, the winter is dominated by storage of energy.”
From The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine
Beautiful, isn’t it? That text made me realize that, despite the weather or time of the year, we too have what I call “our inner four seasons”. There are times when you just want to stay in bed a little longer. It’s winter in your inner weather and that’s ok! It doesn’t necessarily mean you are lazy! So respect that and meditate (or jog or finish your paper) at night, or at your lunch break, or just allow yourself to listen to your body and see if there’s anything else you need to do. Maybe it’s summer for you and your body is craving some outdoor activity. Try to meditate while walking in the park (we are going to talk about “active meditation” soon!) instead of doing it the old-fashion way. Take some time to listen to what you really want to do and see how much easier it will be to feel motivated and to be disciplined. That works for cooking, reading, taking a shower, everything!
I believe everybody has their own inner rhythm and to be happy is to acknowledge that rhythm, respect it and live within it. My goal as a therapist is to help people discover their rhythm. My goal as a human being is to know my own rhythm and synchronize it with everybody else’s, as well as the planet’s. That is, in my opinion, sustainable living!
(Photos of Brasilia taken by Verena Kacinskis, photo of the snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Spain taken by Maria Gabriela Marrero).