WANDERING YOGI COLUMNIST: Lee Carsley looks deeper into this year of the Earth Dog – and what might be in store for you.
It is the Year of the Dog – the Earth (or yellow) Dog to be precise.
In the Tao way, Earth energy is neither yin nor yang. In the cycle of seasons, the Earth element represents the transitions between them. This connecting feature of the Earth element plays out again and again. For example, on the physical level, the organs of stomach and spleen are central to digestion and lie in the middle of the body; emotionally, the earth element connects us to each other; at the cosmic level, it is the pivotal point of balance between the heavens and the mundane world.
Your Earth element allows you to explore your higher purpose, while remaining present. In balance, the Earth element allows you to remain strong and calm, as change and chaos swirls around you. Out of balance, we become addicted to change, at the expense of our bodies (ask the super-stressies what happens when they go on holidays – they often get sick).
It also makes us like sweet things – sometimes too much. The average Australian eats 14 teaspoons of sugar a day. I know, and I don’t even take sugar in my coffee or eat sweets; I’m sure you don’t either. We need less than half of this. As I mentioned, the organs for Earth are the stomach and spleen – too much sugar requires them to work extra hard to extract essential nutrients from our food. This can lead to all sorts of issues in the gut (TCM practitioners argue most of our gut complaints come from too much sugar).
In balance, your Earth element allows you to experience abundance, a condition of the mind and spirit. It allows you to naturally recognise what the universe offers, from the bounty and beauty of nature, to the love and connections with others, to simply being alive. And to experience joy in all of this. Out of balance, you find yourself disconnecting from others, from yourself, from life (“that’s someone else’s problem” becomes one of your favourite phrases). Earth teaches you that in life, there has to be sustainable relationships with everyone and everything, and a balance between giving and receiving. Earth teaches us compassion for ourselves and others.
If you are the guardian of a dog, take the time to observe its interactions with you and others – the need for connection (so happy to see us), their grounded-ness (being able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat, and wake up just as quickly). And their focus when it comes to their favourite ball or treat?
Coupled with the Earth element, the year of the Yellow Dog is the year to make those lifestyle changes you have wanted to for ages, but just can’t seem to make stick. Time to quit smoking, cut down the alcohol, lose that weight or change residence. Find that job you really love, show that special someone how much you care about them.
And practice generosity without expecting anything in return. The Wandering Yogis have Karma Kash – our 2018 ‘pet’ dharmas are Soi Dogs Thailand and the Orangutan Project. Maybe you want to consider something like this in 2018, in recognition of the animal in you?
Lee Carsley is the ANZA Wandering Yoga founder teacher, and Yoga Alliance CE trainer. When not teaching yoga to students and other teachers, she also leads meditation workshops and bespoke yoga retreats. Be the light, show the light, and travel light.