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The Year of the Dragon
By: Dr. Mao Shing Ni, Ph.D., D.O.M., L.Ac.

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon! For many years I have given forecasts about a new year based on the ancient Taoist science of the Five Elements Cycle, which predicts the global trends that affect each of us on a personal level. Many readers have shared that their experiences with these forecasts have better enabled them to minimize the negative tendencies, be it with health, relationships or finance, and accentuate the positives. You may find it useful for your life too.

Before we look down the path of a new year, it is always wise to reflect on the happenings of the previous one. 2011 was the Year of the Rabbit, which promised a respite from the conflict-prone Tiger year of 2010. We saw the end of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, the capture of Bin Laden, the fall of Gaddafi, and the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan by year’s end. However, the year was not without its natural and man-made disasters from the tsunami and nuclear meltdown of Japan, the freak storms in the Midwest and East Coast of the U.S., to the European financial crisis.

So what is in store for the Year of the Dragon? In general, 2012 is characterized by strong energy and powerful forces – symbolic of the Dragon – that when marshaled in the right direction can result in positive change. The elements of the year are Water and Earth. Energetically the Water element is dynamic, creative and forceful, and represents the movement for social, political and economic change. The Earth element encompasses generosity, encouragement and strength, and represents the desire for stability, community and goodwill. In essence, the trend will be towards a continuing restoration of the economy and financial systems, and focus will be on providing for the less capable.

On the health front, the Water element corresponds to the kidney-adrenal system while Earth corresponds to the digestive system. Therefore, the emphasis for the year is to move and exercise more to strengthen your cardiovascular system and musculature, and lower stress and tension so as not to overburden your kidney-adrenal systems. Be sure to stretch and stay flexible to avoid injuries. Practice meditation and stress-reduction techniques to help you relax, and get plenty of rest. Watch out for digestive problems like heartburn, indigestion, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and hemorrhoids. Avoid rich, fatty and deep fried foods, dairy, sugar and excess salt. Instead, eat abundant fresh vegetables – especially root vegetables like yams and sweet potato, fruits, nuts and seeds, fish and poultry, and mild spices like ginger, cayenne and cardamom.

When channeled properly, water is useful for irrigation or power generation, but when it is out of control its potential as a force of destruction is immense. When water wants to move but earth refuses to budge, an inevitable tension is created. While a desire for revolutionary and sweeping changes may be in the air, the mood of society may turn cautious and conservative in seeking safe harbor. This is true of relationships too – learning how to positively channel your strong feelings and emotions can help you harmonize with others. On the nature front, powerful, unchecked Water energy may also foretell flooding and earthquakes.

The Dragon year is generally good for starting and launching new projects, initiatives and ventures by articulating and getting others to share your visions, but remain conservative in your actions and projections. In the five-element creative cycle Water produces the Wood element and therefore we may see consumers fulfill a pent-up demand for wood industry products like fashion, textile and apparel, furniture, forestry and lumber. The Earth element creates the Metal element and therefore representative industries will be busy, including technology, heavy equipment and machinery, computers, and precious and non-precious metals.

Representative industries of the Water element including shipping, transportation and beverages, may see only a slight uptick despite a second canal opening in Panama to accommodate the super container ships. Likewise, Earth element industries such as agriculture, mining and construction may also see a minor lift. Finally, since this year has none of the Fire element, it does not favor its representative industries of finance, stock markets and power plants. The European financial crisis does not help the confidence in the financial markets either.

In conclusion, to experience the positives and diminish the negatives in the 2012 Year of the Dragon, you must symbolically build and dredge canals and remove obstacles to appropriately channel the flow of the powerful Water energy that will eventually bestow benefit upon your life. This is the metaphor of the acupuncture meridians in your body. By activating and managing the flow of energy within the meridians, acupuncture brings nourishment, healing and balance to your whole being. I also highly encourage that you cultivate patience, nurture your will, and proactively manage your life in order to achieve health, peace and prosperity.

About the Author:

Dr. Maoshing Ni (Dr. Mao, as he is known by his patients and students) is a 38th-generation doctor of Chinese medicine and an authority in the field of Taoist anti-aging medicine. After receiving two doctorate degrees and completing his Ph.D. dissertation on nutrition, Dr. Mao did his postgraduate work at Shanghai Medical University’s affiliated hospitals and began his 20-year study of centenarians of China. Dr. Mao returned to Los Angeles in 1985 and has since focused on Taoist anti-aging therapeutics at his Tao of Wellness Center