by ANNE KAISER
Spring in Wisconsin has always been one of my favorite times of year. I delight in the increased hours of sunlight, the hopeful songs of cardinals and house finches and the emergence of the first crocuses and bulb flowers of the season.
For me, spring marks the tipping point between the quiet, contemplative hours of winter and the rebirth of a season of exuberance, growth and activity. on my daily walks in nature, I note signs of this seasonal intersection: patches of glittering snow recede to reveal thin green shoots of early woodland plants; winter’s final cottony clouds part to allow a sapphire sky to shine. earth displays a living, evolving dance of opposites: chill and warmth, rest and activity, dormancy and growth.
This natural ebb and flow of energy permeates much of life. I recently attended an informational workshop at the local T’ai Chi Chu’an center where my husband is a student. Before we attempted a practice sequence of this ancient Taoist system of healing, mind-body balance, and martial arts, the center coordinator and long-time T’ai Chi practitioner provided an insightful overview of the philosophy underlying this honored practice.
While I’d often seen commercialized depictions of the T’ai Chi “yinyang” symbol, I had not previously been familiar with the more complex meaning of this image. The two curved teardrop shapes within this divided circle capture the fundamental interplay between opposing energy states present throughout the natural world. Though I am only beginning to learn about the art and practice of T’ai Chi, I was captivated by the idea of flow, change and balance between evolving opposites represented by the yin-yang symbol.
In this philosophy, energies can only exist up to a point of extreme before transforming back into their opposite. As I watch for the first lavender crocus buds and listen for the robin’s evening song, this philosophy brings levity to my spirit: winter can only endure for so long before nature’s energy shifts and a new and opposing force, spring, is born.
Though spring, for me, invites a sense of renewed energy and hope, I remember the importance of balancing opposing energies and continue to honor the spirit of winter’s mindful contemplation. When responsibilities at school, work and home accelerate, fueled by the rebirth of spring energy, I allow myself to pause, slow my pace and relax in the power of balance.