2018—Predictions (and advice) for the Year of the Earth Dog
Welcome to 2018, the Year of the Earth Dog! The Chinese astrological calendar is based on the lunar calendar and a sophisticated mathematical system that through thousands of years of observation has produced predictable patterns of change in nature and human behavior. Understanding these patterns can help you maximize the positives while you minimize the negatives in your life. Even though the new year doesn’t officially start until February 16, 2018, the trend will have begun earlier.
This year, the Elements at play are Earth and Earth so it’s a double Earth year—think of a solid mass that doesn’t move easily, like mountains or a big boulder—a year that may lead people who are determined to achieve their principles and goals to take a firm stand and fight to the end. Harmony may be elusive and confrontation and clashes may be the norm, as in the politics of our country and in international relations. This tough, stubborn streak may spill into personal relationships, so watch out for unexpected misunderstandings and disagreements. With so much Earth energy this year, we need to watch out for earth disasters, too, like earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions.
Let’s examine how this year might affect the five areas of health in your life—physical, mind, relationship, career/work and finances—and what you can do to best adapt to the changing energy cycle, maximizing positive outcomes while minimizing negative ones.
On the physical health front, pay attention to possible imbalances in the corresponding Earth organ system of digestion—stomach, pancreas, spleen and the intestines. Look out for gastrointestinal problems like reflux disorder (GERD), ulcers, hiatal hernia, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and colitis; for metabolic problems like diabetes, obesity and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), as well as muscle injuries, lumps and bumps. In the Five Elements cycle, Earth neutralizes Water and depletes Fire Element. Therefore it’s a good idea to also keep an eye on kidneys/adrenals and reproductive and hormonal health as well as the cardiovascular system. In addition, the flu and other infectious diseases may be more severe than in past years due to more virulent strains and overuse of antibiotics.
Guard your digestive health by eating a plant-based diet of fresh land and sea vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and occasional lean animal protein instead of chasing after fad diets. Eat probiotic-rich foods such as fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.), low-sugar vegan kefir and yogurts (almond, coconut, cashew, etc.), miso and tempeh, or take a high-bioactive probiotic supplement. You may want to ask your practitioner at Tao of Wellness to give you a hydrogen/methane breath test to rule out SIBO—a condition that can cause chronic bloating, gas, cramping, irregular bowel movements and body-wide inflammation and pain.
Work on healthy metabolism and weight wellness by starting with a measurement of your body fat composition so you can focus your efforts on increasing lean muscle and decreasing body fat instead of concerning yourself primarily with your weight. Besides eating a healthy, balanced diet, try eating smaller meals more frequently and practice intermittent fasting, limiting your eating timespan to 10 hours a day. For example, breakfast at 8 a.m. and dinner by 6 p.m. or alternatively, 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Do not eat a meal or snack during the fasting time between dinner and the next day’s breakfast. Studies have shown that when people adhere to this schedule they decrease their body fat, blood sugar and cholesterol, they lose weight, and consume fewer calories naturally.
Reproductive & Hormonal Systems
Prevent problems in your reproductive organs with ultrasound screening—for the kidneys/adrenals for both women and men; for breasts, ovaries and uterus in women. Men should have digital exams for prostate and testes. Restore or maintain your hormonal health by eating phytohormone-rich foods such as soy foods; black, kidney and adzuki beans; as well as omega-rich foods such as walnuts, sesame seeds, hemp, flax and chia seeds. Also important is practicing Chi Gong since mind-body practices stimulate and restore our bodies’ hormonal functions. Check out Chi Gong classes at Tao of Wellness (click here for the schedule) and ask your practitioner for an ultrasound requisition form.
Be proactive with your heart health by being physically active, eating a plant-based diet and keeping your levels of stress and inflammation under control. Regular cardiovascular exercise is key to strengthening your heart muscle and getting circulation of nutrients and oxygen to all critical areas of your body including the brain and other organs. Exercising for 30 minutes at or above a heart rate of 120 beats per minute at least four times a week will do the job. If you prefer Tai Chi and Chi Gong, studies have shown them to have the same cardio benefits as brisk walking, jogging and cycling. Eating a vegan diet can dramatically reduce bad cholesterol and plaque. For help with a diet that eliminates all animal products, click here for our Heart Health Menu Plan. Meditate daily to reduce cortisol, your stress hormone. Try my newHappy Heart, Healthy Heart Meditation CD. Talk to your practitioner about assessing your inflammation markers like CRP (C-reactive protein). Studies show that inflammation, not high cholesterol, is what enables plaque to form on the walls of ourarteries. Anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients to put in your diet include papaya, pineapple, cherries, omega fatty acids and turmeric.
One challenge of a double Earth year is the tendency to worry and ruminate excessively. Overthinking can lead to indecision. Overextending yourself in caretaking of others results in exhaustion. If you’re feeling insecure and depleted, it’s easy to default to and stubbornly hold on to beliefs and positions that may impede progress and lead to stagnation and stalemate. These are the attributes of an Earth Element year. Do your best to cultivate a calm, clear and flexible mind so that you can adapt to any circumstance and situation, and bring everyone to the table with a shared vision. Don’t let your mind become an obstacle to achieving your vision. Ultimately your mind is the instrument of your spirit and when you have clear vision you can manifest it through the creativity of your mind. Ancient spiritual traditions have used meditations, prayers and invocations to help people cultivate and achieve ultimate mind health. I invite you to explore our various meditation programs to support mind health.
All effective and fulfilling relationships require give and take. However, the world in 2018 will be faced with mountains and boulders (double Earth) that refuse to budge, which will likely lead to misunderstandings and disagreements and may take more energy and effort than usual to bring about harmony. Despite the negative tendency, we should capitalize on the loyal and caring attributes of Earth and strive to achieve harmony in all of our relationships through creativity, flexibility and objectivity instead of allowing emotions to rule the day. Fulfilling relationships require the compassion to step into someone else’s shoes, attentiveness to truly listen to the other person, and a commitment to win-win solutions for both people. I also suggest diffusing essential oils such as lavender, rose and chamomile to set the mood for happiness and love.
Whatever it is that you do for work, show that you care. Pay special attention to get along with co-workers and aim for effective interpersonal relationships with people at all levels. Reactivate old networks and work proactively to maintain and expand your current network of colleagues, friends and mentors. Earth Element’s main attribute is caring, so the entire service industry is likely to get a lift from the double Earth year. The unemployment rate will stay low and wages will rise, providing more opportunities to change jobs and careers. Professions particularly well-positioned to take advantage of the caring Earth include medicine, nursing, assisted-living work, mental health and social work, case management, medical research and biotech.
Industries boosted favorably by Earth Element will be technology, banking and manufacturing—all associated with Metal Element, which will benefit from Earth Element, its mother element. Real estate, normally associated with Earth Element, will be weighed down by the double Earth energy and projected increases in interest rates. The stock market, associated with Fire Element, is headed for a correction as the double Earth will likely stop its momentum. In an Earth year, the best activity to engage in is saving and storing up your monetary energy. An old Chinese saying is, “Earth is where the wealth is stored.” Complete your financial plan and if you need guidance, hire a fee-only, certified financial planner.
In summary, despite the Earth Dog Year’s tendency for stubborn defense of personal principles and pride, the bright side is the caring, loyal and generally positive attitude of the Earth that can be helpful in neutralizing conflict and confrontation. It’s a good year to practice expressing love, caring and loyalty toward loved ones, friends and co-workers. Reduce your worry and rumination with meditation and essential oils. Prevent digestive, metabolic, reproductive and cardiovascular system breakdowns with plant-based, anti-inflammatory eating along with intermittent fasting, appropriate mind-body exercises and meditation. Don’t gamble with your money in 2018—instead, save and store and focus on your financial goals. Explore possible new careers in a “caring profession,” and make sure that you bring your compassion and passion to whatever you do every day.