Let’s look at hope – not just as a word, but as energy.
Hope belongs to the Heart’s Fire, whose purest energy arises and spreads, and is available only in the moment, as an unconditional buoyancy. The Heart feels light and lifted. Trust, on the other hand, belongs to the Kidney water, and is experienced as being rooted in one’s truth. The two belong together – grounded in the soles of your feet, and lifted up to the front of your chest. These two energies blend as the source of all life. Yet the circulation can become obstructed. When we are overly fearful we do not feel grounded in trust, and the Fire energy can become excessive, showing up as unrest or anxiety. Our natural compensation for this unrest is to leave the body’s awareness and project hope into the future with an idea like, “ _ will give me hope.” Now the energy belongs to the Liver, that has a particular idea in mind of its future fulfillment. This is no longer hope, but expectation.

While a future expectation sometimes turns out the way we imagine, it usually doesn’t. And the movement toward the future fulfillment of the desire can stagnate the Qi’s interaction between the Heart Fire and Kidney Water, which is only available now. Heaven sparks life into existence through this interaction in the moment rather than in the future. When hope is prematurely passed off to the Liver, our reproductive hormones no longer circulate freely, because the stress hormones dominate as we try to control the fulfillment of our desire.

The Chinese classics discuss the proper movement for desire as the last step in a process rather than the first. The process begins as the Heart receives an impulse. The next step is to align ourselves around this new vibration through the energies of Earth. What does it mean to you? Are your beliefs and actions in alignment with it? The power of Metal then releases all that is not in alignment with it, and we can then ground it through Kidney Water. As we embody this new vibratory field, the last step belongs to Wood’s capacity to envision a new reality based upon the impulse the Heart received. Five steps, not one. Desire is last, not first.

Feel into the experience of your desire. Did it come from the Heart? Is everything in alignment with it? Do you need to release anything that no longer resonates? Do you feel rooted and lifted; buoyant in the trust that all is well? Or do you get a bit anxious as you become aware of past disappointments and fear that it might not happen? This is often the case, and the mind then tries to override the body’s discomfort by trying to control the future expectation. This does not alleviate the feelings of fear and anxiety. They are temporarily suppressed while they subconsciously gain strength, adding to the discomfort of Qi stagnation.

Imagine yourself walking up to the edge of a river. Sun is shining down through the canopy of leaves overhead. The water is flowing freely, not too deep; crossable in fact. Allow your steps to the bank of the river represent your past. Now stand with your feet rooted in sand, feeling the sun above. Take in the feeling of being grounded and lifted as you see the other shore across the river. Let it represent the experience of fulfillment where you are no longer wanting. Take note of all of the stories you have projected onto its future shores, and how they’ve made you feel. Believe it or not, this is the what causes your pain. It’s a trap, because you will never arrive in the future. See if you have the courage to let it go. Now step into the river and walk to the center of the flowing water, letting both the past disappointments and future fulfillments wash away. As the water flows around you, notice the magnificence of this unknown place. No future to draw you forward; no past to hold you back. Just now. Feet rooted, heart lifted. This is hope.