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Using the Medicine Wheel to Pilot Your Retirement Journey Thumbnail

Using the Medicine Wheel to Pilot Your Retirement Journey

A Powerful Beginning 

On a recent trip to Sedona, Arizona, my wife, and I had the opportunity to participate in a guided Vortex and Medicine Wheel ceremony that was led by a shamanic practitioner named, Akal Jaggs. He conducted a unique and expansive ceremony that left us moved, enlightened, and fulfilled. 

During the ceremony, I asked Akal if the medicine wheel, which has been used in generations of Indigenous North American traditions, could provide a holistic and meaningful approach for guiding someone into retirement. Considering that the medicine wheel focuses on individual success and well-being, he emphasized that it could be an exceptionally powerful tool for one’s retirement journey. Consequently, the symmetry between the medicine wheel and retirement left me with the understanding that: retirement is not an ending to one’s journey, but if thoughtfully embraced, can be a very powerful beginning. To further clarify, here’s an outline of how the medicine wheel philosophy can pilot your retirement journey into full flight:

Understanding the Medicine Wheel: Retirement Takes Flight

The medicine wheel typically consists of four quadrants: East, South, West, and North. Each direction represents specific aspects of life, such as physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Use this wheel as a means of setting intentions for the future ahead. Consider:

  • What do you want to achieve in terms of physical health?
  • What aspects of emotional well-being are important to you? 
  • How will you mentally stimulate and challenge yourself in retirement? 
  • How important will spiritual growth be for you? 

1. The East Quadrant of Retirement: Physical Well-Being

The East Quadrant symbolizes physical well-being, the rising sun, and the chance for new beginnings. Think about how you will focus on your physical health by exploring new physical activities, self-care, and outdoor experiences to stay active and maintain vitality. Here is a list of possible ways to pilot your East Quadrant:

  • Exercise and Nutrition:  Focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and a balanced diet. Engage in activities that promote physical well-being, such as walking, yoga, or gardening.
  • Healthcare: Prioritize regular check-ups and screenings to ensure your physical health is in good condition. Explore holistic health practices that align with your beliefs and values.

2. The South Quadrant of Retirement: Emotional Connection

 The South direction represents emotions, relationships, and connections. Now is the opportunity to cultivate deeper connections with family and friends, strengthening your emotional bonds. Engage in activities that bring you joy, such as hobbies, passions, and spending quality time with loved ones. Here is a list of possible ways to pilot your South Quadrant:

  • Family Bonds: Strengthen your relationships with family members and friends. Spend quality time with grandchildren and other relatives, sharing your wisdom and creating lasting memories.
  • Teaching and Mentoring: Share your knowledge and experiences with others. Consider mentoring younger generations or teaching in community centers, passing down your skills and insights.

3. The West Quadrant of Retirement: Mental Stimulation

The West direction signifies introspection, wisdom, and learning. Try to continuously seek mental stimulation and growth through activities that stimulate your mind in a meaningful way. Here is a list of possible ways to pilot your West Quadrant:

  • Meditation and Mindfulness: Practice meditation and mindfulness to cultivate emotional balance and mental clarity. Retirement can sometimes bring unexpected emotions; being mindful can help navigate these feelings.
  • Continuous Learning: Keep your mind active by engaging in activities that stimulate your brain, such as reading, learning a new skill, or pursuing hobbies like painting or playing musical instruments.

4. The North Quadrant of Retirement: Spiritual Growth

The North direction represents spiritual growth and understanding. Open your mind to explore your inner self through meditation, mindfulness, or spiritual practices that resonate with you. Engage in thoughtful conversation with your partner and manifest the things that grant you purpose. Here is a list of possible ways to pilot your North Quadrant:

  • Reflection and Contemplation: Spend time in nature or in quiet reflection, contemplating the deeper meaning of life. Connect with your spiritual beliefs, culture, and heritage to explore practices and traditions that bring you peace and fulfillment.
  • Giving Back: Consider how you can give back to your community or support causes that align with your values during retirement. Being of service to others can bring a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

The Center of Retirement: Balance and Harmony

The center of the medicine wheel represents balance and harmony. In retirement, strive for balance in all aspects of your life, including physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Seek activities and practices that maintain this equilibrium. Here is a list of possible ways to pilot your center: 

  • Maintaining Balance: Always ensure that you maintain a balance between these four aspects of life, just as the medicine wheel emphasizes equilibrium. Regularly assess and adjust your priorities to maintain harmony in your retirement journey.   
  • Adaptability: Embrace change and be open to new experiences. Retirement is a transition, and being adaptable can help you navigate challenges and find joy in the evolving phases of your life.

The Great Circle: Destination Retirement

By adopting the medicine wheel philosophy in your retirement journey, you can strive for a well-rounded and meaningful experience that encompasses physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being, all while respecting the values and wisdom of Indigenous cultures. The medicine wheel represents the cyclical nature of life and showcases how retirement is not an end but a new beginning within this great circle. By embracing the medicine wheel philosophy, you can approach retirement holistically, ensuring that you focus on all aspects of your well-being and find fulfillment in this new chapter of your life. Remember that this guidance is a personal journey, and you can tailor these principles to align with your beliefs and values accordingly. Therefore, the symmetry of the medicine wheel aligns with one’s retirement in a way that notions: retirement is the destination that has the power to teach you a lot about the journey you have been on, and the journey you will continue to create.