Seasonal change brings more than just a change in the landscape of the planet; it changes our internal landscape as well. Chinese medicine saw this to be true paying very close attention to how the elements affect us. What season we are in becomes a great mirror for us to consider our activity level, our emotions, and what we should do with our physical bodies. We are entering winter this month, the time of full yin. The nights are long, the air is cool, and animals hibernate, this includes us!
Chinese medicine is based on the taoist principle of yin and yang which accounts for the duality we see in all of existence and the interconnectedness of all life. This is represented by the yin yang symbol and as you can see each side has a little light in the dark or dark in the light. Every concept you can think of in life is only available for distinction because there is an equal and opposite in nature. You see nighttime because you can also see daytime. You know something is hard because you have had an experience of touching something soft.
The yin aspect is represented by the feminine, the dark, intuition, the water element, and the winter season to name a few. The kidneys are the organ system we want to nurture and pay attention to as well as its associated organ pair, the bladder and adrenal glands. The kidneys are our main source of prenatal qi (or energy) and our jing (or reproductive essence). This helps us rest, rejuvenate, and slow down the aging process. The kidney health also contributes to the health our knees, low back and hearing.
The mammal instinct to hibernate during this season is spot on! We should hope to emulate this activity by making decisions to not exceed our energy reserves; perhaps not go to that extra party and instead rest, eat nourishing soups and stews, cook with root vegetables or any other seasonal eats and take time reflect or retreat. If we push ourselves too much this time of year, we as a human specious tend to get sick with colds and flus as well as tax our adrenal glands which help us adapt to the stresses of life.
Self-care can go beyond resting and eating and can engage with what nourishes your mind and heart such as acupuncture, meditation, bodywork, herbal remedies, qi gong, tai qi, which are all wonderful for cultivating qi for the kidneys.
Want to know a little background about the winter solstice? Take a look at a previous blog article