If you ask me, we could all stand to be a bit more like dogs. They’re intuitive, loyal, social, playful, courageous—all qualities we strive for, Noah Rubinstein, doctor of Chinese medicine and clinic director of The YinOva Center in New York City, points out.
And there’s no better time to get down with the dogs, at least according to the Chinese zodiac. On February 16, the Lunar New Year, we bid adieu to the crowing, confident Rooster and turn instead to man’s best friend.
“For the first time in a while we’re going to start to feel a bit more down to earth; a little less frenetic and less flamboyant than last year’s rooster, or even the previous year’s monkey.” —Noah Rubinstein, doctor of Chinese medicine
“The Chinese calendar rotates through 12 different animals as well as the five elements, with each year consisting of a combination of the two,” Rubinstein explains. This year pairs the Earth element with the dog for a grounded, altruistic vibe. “For the first time in a while we’re going to start to feel a bit more down to earth; a little less frenetic and less flamboyant than last year’s rooster, or even the previous year’s monkey,” says Rubinstein.
And as we cultivate our most canine qualities in this earthly environment, Rubinstein says, “it will open the space to create the world we want to see around us.” Sounds about right for the sure-to-be transformational 2018 ahead.
Below, Rubinstein shares 5 ways you can lap up all the goodness the Year of the Dog has to offer.
1. Find your pack
It’s time to gather your squad, be it your family, your brunch crew, your BFF, your partner, or even a club you’re in or a political institution that you’re part of. Getting organized in groups provides cohesion and stability for us in an uncertain world. That’s what finding your pack is all about!
What the dog shows us is that these connections can be made without bringing a lot of ego to the equation. If you look at a pack of dogs, you see that it’s made up of all shapes, sizes, and scruffs—their association is about more than superficial identification. Dogs can be competitive, for sure, but they know that their connection brings them important fortunes that they couldn’t achieve on their own.
This year will bring greater awareness of who we are and who we want to create a better world with, so when it feels like everything is going sideways, focus on the change you want to make in your community or your country. Now is the time to get involved.
2. Heighten your situational awareness
The dog’s keen senses and hyper-awareness of the surrounding world go beyond sight and smell: It can be downright intuitive. If you’re feeling blue, chances are, your pup will lay his head on your lap; if something is wrong or out of place, he’ll track down what it is. This may not always be easy; sometimes, dogs are anxious or stressed inside (just like we are!), but their inner fears rarely stop them from showing the courage we all wish we had.
But one thing that dogs really don’t like is surprises. This year, finding our “inner woof” will require stepping out of our bubbles and stepping up our awareness of what’s going on around us in our homes and the world. It may be scary at first, but this increased alertness will reduce some of the surprise factor, allowing us to feel more in control and able to be our own best guardians.
3. Pace yourself
Have you ever played ball with or tried to hide something from a dog? They are ridiculously tenacious and will play until they run themselves sick. As you find people and communities that reflect your passions this year, take care not to drive yourself into the ground. Just because there is an opportunity to do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. You don’t have to chase every ball.
Also, be sure to check in with your health. The distractions of work and play can push our health into the out-of-sight, out-of-mind column. Your days may be busy, but don’t lose your life balance—even if you are the alpha.
4. Be of service
Here is a heartfelt shout-out to all the guiding, calming, bomb-sniffing, alarm-sounding service dogs out there: Thank you for helping to protect us from ourselves! Service is about understanding our own value while also seeing beyond ourselves and recognizing that we all have something to contribute to others around us. This is the greatest good we can aspire to.
The Dog teaches us to be socially aware and engaged, but without the ego that the Rooster exhibited last year. This will be a year to practically integrate awareness of our own selves with the world around us. You can start small (in your own family, even, or in your neighborhood). It can be as simple as helping at a community garden, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or participating in a get-out-the-vote drive.
5. Be mindful of your nutrition
A dog will eat anything—oftentimes, the wrong thing. If he spits it out, all is well. But if he doesn’t, things can get pretty ugly. In Chinese medicine, digestion is associated with the Earth element and provides the potential for transformation and growth. The Earth element this year guides us to be thoughtful about what goes into our bodies. Put good stuff in, and you’ll thrive. Eat junk, and it will all be a little harder.
Cultivating healthy nutrition for yourself this year isn’t just about food, though. It’s also going to be what you feed your mind and your heart to create a more whole you. So, in this Earth Dog year, take a cue from the family pet and be loving, loyal, and protective of yourself—just leave his eating habits on the table.
The lunar new year comes right after the new moon in Aquarius—get your lunar mojo going with this guided meditation. And for an astrology forecast with a wellness twist, check out Jennifer Racioppi’s weekly predictions.
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