Mastering The Natural Year
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If you follow HumanaNatura, you know that we make regular recommendations about planning, action, and celebration throughout the year, or rather throughout the natural year.
When HumanaNatura talks about the natural year, we mean the annual solar cycle that begins and ends with the winter solstice, or day with the least amount of sunlight each year. The word solstice means “sun-stopping” and the winter solstice – along with its complement, the summer solstice or day with most sunlight – has been marked and celebrated by people at least since the beginning of recorded history.
Progressive Health Promotion Throughout the Natural Year full-size
As you likely know, the amount of sunlight grows and recedes during the natural year since the Earth is tilted in its orbit around the sun, as are many or most planets. Because of this, the Earth’s two poles periodically lean toward and then away from the sun as we travel around it, changing the amount of light each day, and in an opposite or reciprocal way in the northern and southern hemispheres. Halfway in this recurring process are the two equinoxes, a word meaning days of equal light and night. And the endpoints of each increasing and decreasing half-year of light are the two solstices.
In this ancient, sun-oriented or heliocentric approach to time-keeping, the natural year technically begins at opposite times of the year in the northern and southern hemispheres. Depending on the year, the natural new year occurs about December 21st in the north and June 21st in the south of our planet. Since most of us live in the north, and owing to frequent origins of annual time-keeping from the winter solstice, many of the world’s modern and pre-modern calendar systems begin (or once began) at the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. Notable exceptions are lunar calendars.
With this background, we would highlight that a crucial opportunity within modern health-centered life involves creating progressive cycles of health-increasing planning, action, and learning in our lives – in essence, intentionally mirroring and potentially accelerating the process of naturally evolving and thus health-minded life.
In practice, our own cycles of planning, action, and learning often occur quite rapidly when we first pursue health-centered life. But this progressive cycling often slows over time. In part, this is natural and reflects the fact that, as our progressive plans become more established and tested in time, there is often less need for frequent re-evaluation of our plans and actions. However, our cycling also can slow excessively and undesirably, especially when we do not create milestones or reminders to ensure that we using our learnings to seek and begin new progressive cycles on a regular basis.
In our experience, fairly intensive personal planning twice-yearly strikes a good balance between too little and too much planning in our lives, especially as our pursuit of health-centered life becomes more skilled and surefooted. Always, we want to have enough experience and learning from our previous plans as a foundation for each new plan. But we also do not want to plan so infrequently that we miss important opportunities for the compounding learning and health-increasing action that regular progressive planning reliably provides. Again, we have found that dedicated planning on a twice-yearly cycle is ideal for many of us (which can be increased as needed and supplemented by plan adjustments between in-depth planning sessions).
To foster this biannual rhythm of progressive planning, action, and learning in our lives, we recommend using the milestones of the natural year as a waiting aid to our efforts. As highlighted in our Mastering The Natural Year graphic, HumanaNatura’s recommended use of the natural year in this way has three core aspects, which you will see us encourage on Facebook and Twitter throughout the year:
> Equinox Planning – we encourage personal planning sessions at each equinox, both to encourage in-depth biannual planning and because the greater environmental balance of these times often aids reflection and deliberation. In the HumanaNatura approach, this work typically results in our creation a new Natural Life Plan, outlining our evolving personal vision for progressively healthier life and the steps we will take to realize this vision.
> Cross Quarter Action & Learning – in the four cross-quarter periods between the equinoxes and the solstices each year, we encourage extra focus on implementing, and thus learning from, our Natural Life Plans. As the name implies, and as you may know, a cross quarter is the halfway point between each equinox and solstice.
> Solstice Celebration – importantly, since this focus on planning and goal-oriented action can make us more future-oriented – often beneficially but also potentially making us undesirably less appreciative of momentary life – we encourage health-seekers to step away from their plans and actions at each solstice. In these times, we recommend gathering with others in celebration of our lives and accomplishments, enjoyment and immersion in momentary life, and marking the passage of time – as people have done for millennia, and perhaps far longer.
We hope this overview of the crucial health practice that is progressive or cycling planning, action, and learning, and our recommendation to use the natural year as an aid to this important natural health practice, will prove helpful, healthful, and enriching to you and those you influence.
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