Finding Your Heart’s Desire as You Navigate Life’s Changes

Clarifying your heart’s desire while navigating life’s changes isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. The Chinese Five Elements philosophy can be a helpful guide.

I have spent the past year following what is in my heart. Or so I thought… When I left my full-time job and a career of 39 years, I had a beautiful plan that I imagined would support what my heart desired, and as the weeks and months have unfolded, I have discovered – to my surprise – that my plan may have come from somewhere else (not my heart). Have you ever found yourself in this kind of dilemma?

Some things about the plan fell into place easily over the summer, as if meant to be. Others did not, and brought surprise, disappointment, and sadness. In September, I reminded myself that good things take time, and to be patient. I felt nourished by the things that were “working,” and somewhat depressed by those that were not. As I went forward with patience as my guide, still following my beautiful plan, I experienced more unplanned moments. Typically, they felt like a kind of emptiness, or void. They did not bring “happy heart” feelings. I felt down. I slept more, and ate more, and withdrew a bit from group activities and personal interests. It was during these periods that I often felt most uncomfortable – in my body, mind, and spirit.

The Chinese Five Elements tell us that Autumn is the season of letting go – releasing what is not serving us and what is ready to go. The element is Metal, which has a cutting quality. It can be a time of grief, sadness and sorrow. Mother Nature experiences this too, and many trees let go of their leaves. It is a good time for decluttering our homes, and if we are aware, we may find ourselves, as I did, needing to declutter our hearts and minds. At some point this fall, my mind cleared enough to remember this and I began to go with the flow of the natural unfolding of things, and let go of expectations for my beautiful plan.

Winter is the season of becoming still and gentle. This can be easy if we have let go of excess during autumn. The element is Water. This season serves our healing by helping us release our fears – about everything – and settle into a deep peace with what is. That is what I am presently feeling – a grateful stillness – but it has not come easy. I have had to let go of expectations, plans, and assumptions – over, and over again – to get to the peaceful void. Think of the stillness of a frozen pond and you understand the energy of the Winter season. Beneath that surface stillness, life is teeming with possibilities, which are protected and nurtured by the icy top layer. Rest beneath the surface of things and enjoy this season of gentleness and peace.

In just a few short months, Spring will come around, the ice will melt, the ground will soften, and our energies will rise again with the Wood element. Imagine the tall trees pushing up through the surface of the ground from tiny seeds below. I anticipate that by then, much of the truth in my heart will be preparing to reveal itself to me.

Summer, the season of Fire, and the season of heart energy itself, may bring with it clarity of my heart. I will be open to receiving it whenever it comes, and between now and that time, I will do my best to clear obstacles, rest in the peaceful voids, and nurture my body, mind, and spirit according to the natural way – not according to my beautiful plan.


Indian Summer will bring the fifth element: Earth. This will be a time of grounding – centering within myself. It will be so much easier with a clear heart and focus. There is always some new life lesson to be learned, and as well, some old life lesson to be relearned, isn’t there?  There is always some new lesson to be learned, and as well, some old lesson to be relearned.