Walking is about more than exercise. Even in a highly urban environment, we can observe the changing of the seasons and the elements at play. Developing a more conscious perception of these changes will put us in touch with our own inner rhythms. Paying attention to an increased need for rest in the winter or following the instinct to be more social in the summer are examples of the most simple ways that we can learn to listen to the messages of the elements in our lives.
Some simple observations of the elements in our urban world:
Water: The stillness and potency of a new snow fall, the calm that it can bring even in the city, puts us in touch with the awesome power of water.
Wood: We may unexpectedly notice birds chirping energetically. Buds suddenly seem to appear out of nowhere. People come out of dormancy and flood the streets with excitement and movement. This is the upward surge of wood.
Fire: The passion of couples at outdoor cafes, the city bustling with festivals or the unrelenting sun beating our faces; these are some ways that we might experience the fire element.
Earth: Abundant ripe fruits in the green markets, overwhelming smells of foods and the heaviness of late August humidity: we may experience the earth element as rich or even cloying.
Metal: The crisp fall air and changing leaves fill us with inspiration; at the same time there is a melancholy towards the approaching winter. The metal element may seem bittersweet.
People in the city are constantly bombarded with noise: traffic, sirens, air conditioners, squealing subway trains, radios, and strangers’ conversations. All this stimulation can make us both hyper-alert and numb.
In addition, we can get caught up in the action and try to match our energy level with the city’s, indulging in constant activity. We might block out more subtle perceptions, lose touch with our inner life or state of mind, ignore signals from our bodies, and stop taking care of ourselves.
Quiet time means finding a place that’s peaceful for you where you can sit down and do nothing. That means turning off your cell phone and dropping all agendas for that period of time. It could be at a park, in your bedroom, inside a beautiful building that inspires you, or even in a corner of your office. Some people engage formally in meditation practice or spiritual discipline.
QUALITY FOOD & WATER
Water lubricates joints, facilitates digestion, cleanses toxins from the body; in fact, everything in your body depends on water. Often we don’t drink enough because we don’t trust the quality of tap water. Investing in a home water filter & carrying water with you that you know is good quality lets you drink enough to stay healthy.
I work with people who have very different diet choices, and find a way to work within their individual lifestyles. How you eat can be as important as what you eat.
Savoring mouthwatering food can be better than functionally eating what we think we “should.”
Focusing on eating as an activity in itself is usually better than trying to do other things at the same time (reading, talking on the phone, working, watching TV).
Nourishment is an important aspect of acupuncture. It is extremely individual, varying from person to person. Basically, the less processed, the better (that is, if you can imagine the source that the food came from, it’s probably more nourishing for you).
Shopping at the farmers’ market lets us eat fresh local produce in season. Fresh whole foods have more vital energy than food that has been processed, packaged and/or transported long distances. Locally grown produce is fresher and connects us to the place where we live. Food eaten in season synchronizes us with the growth cycle. Foods grown organically or with low pesticide use help us reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals.
Visiting the Greenmarket also lets us experience the vivid colors, flavors, smells & textures of the season.
Most neighborhoods in New York have a Greenmarket within walking distance, or close to public transportation.