I was feeling a little low. This is not too unusual as we move into the colder, darker days, is it?
Sometimes we point to seasonal affective disorder, first named in the early 1980s, which is fostered by the diminishing sunlight and our life indoors separating us a bit more from nature. Weather aside, our sensitivity to events in the Middle East and here at home can contribute to how we’re feeling. Why we’re a little blue is often complicated.
I don’t want to point too quickly in the direction of getting rid of the sadness. It’s often normal, but still, I wanted to take stock and see if there was something I could do to affect my mood. My expertise as a coach is grounded in daily rituals.
I train with Spring Forest Qigong, and one of the set of movements they teach as part of Chinese medicine’s Five Element framework is called “Connecting with the body’s energy.” It forms part of the online sessions I teach every week. I decided to stop working and start this movement ritual with the aim to shift my mood. Its combination of movement and uplifting emotions has an impact.
Allowing for how big a role diet, exercise and stress play in how we feel, in Qigong we learn that unbalanced emotions also factor in. Feelings of raw sadness can be modified by a mindset or a movement that moves the energy that’s presently in place. (For some academic colour on the practice’s effect on mental and physical pain, Spring Forest cites some related research here.)
It’s late Autumn, and in Chinese medicine the season is connected to the energy system of the lungs, which can hold sadness. To help mitigate this feeling, I brought in the emotion that connects to the movements I was following: contentment. You could try this yourself: simply ask yourself what makes you feel content. Focus on this idea for a minute. That minute can shift your energy.
It’s Fall, so think cozy sweaters, warm slippers, a fireplace or intimate chat with a good friend over hot chocolate. And we’re going to come at a few of your favourite things more mindfully: you want to feel those fuzzy slippers instead of just throwing them on; you’re going to savour that hot tea instead of gulping it down. These ideas of savouring and feeling with attention, when you take a moment, they are tuning you into the uplifting energy of what you’re doing.
Master Lin, the founder of Spring Forest Qigong, has some simple guidance for me here: write the practice down to remind you. There’s my sticky notes, the ones where I wrote “I am content,” one on my computer monitor and one on the lamp in my bedroom. I see them, and then I say the words meaningfully. I feel gratitude for what is keeping me warm, what is making me feel satisified. The word “satisfaction” is also a good substitute if you don’t connect with the word “contentment.”
Combining movement with healing words boosts the effect, but if you don’t practise Qigong like I do, as you stop where you are, close your eyes, allow a gentle smile to form, and take a moment to focus on what does this for you: simply say “I feel content.” There’s power in the simplicity, I promise.