chinese medicine

Preserve your Energy this Winter

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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. 

 

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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

Our Human Biology Lives According to the 5 Elements

Would you like to loose weight?  Have more energy so you can think clearer? Have better sleep?  Work out more efficiently? Feel balanced in your mood?  All of these things are possible if we begin to engage with our daily habits during the hours that the body is naturally inclined to practice them.  We can discover this timing from the ancient Chinese medicine Biological Clock.

 

We are creatures of habit.  This means that are bodies are built to operate habitually.  We are designed according to a circadian rhythm that operates over a 24 hour period.  Its a law of nature and the science behind this phenomenon was most recently awarded the Noble Prize in physiology and medicine.  The Chinese discovered this chronobiology long ago and actually spelled it out for us quite nicely.

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As you can see in the mapped out chart, a lot of us may begin our day during the large Intestines time between 5-7 am.  This would be the body’s most ideal time to go to the bathroom followed by the stomach hours of 7-9 am, when we are most inclined to eat breakfast; the stomach during these hours knows to assimilate the food we eat, followed by the spleen hours 9-11am.  This Chinese spleen organ system is the best time of the day to use our brain and our muscles, so either a high amount of comprehension and memorization or one of the best times to exercise and lose weight while doing so.  In western medicine, they discovered that we have a cortisol rush at 8:00 am; this is our stress hormone that allows us to manage a lot of mental and physical stressors we subject ourselves to.  Right after this is the heart hours of 11am- 1pm, when the blood is circulating the most, the body is the warmest, and the sun is at its peak being the most yang time of day.

 

Moving into some of the evening hours, between 5-7 pm is the time of the kidneys; this means your reproductive essence and fertility is at its highest and would be a great time to engage in conceiving a child.  Being asleep between the gall bladder and liver hours of 11pm- 3 am is so incredibly ideal for our cellular repair, blood detoxification.  The hun, or etherial soul, is associated with the liver and is considered to be our consciousness. If we are in deep sleep during 1-3 am, our hun can return to its resting place in the liver, allowing for an easier mood, less stress, and living consciously during the day.  Also being asleep during the lung hours of 3-5 am is wonderful for detoxing and cleaning out our lungs while we sleep.  This is also when our immune systems are doing their best repair.

 

You might notice if you have a certain weakness or issue with a particular organ system, you are more likely to see symptoms during that time of day on the biological clock.  If you do notice repeated symptoms on an almost daily basis at the same time each day, tell your acupuncturist.  This is very useful information for your practitioner to know, so he or she may better treat you.

Earth Element Medicine Post Solar Eclipse

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The beauty of Chinese medicine is how it sees the whole universe and everything in it as connected.  We are in essence a reflection of the cosmos around us.  When we fall into paying attention to the seasons as they change, we naturally change and our bodies, minds, and hearts follow suit without resistance.

 

Indian Summer is upon us late summer until autumn equinox, which resonates with the Earth Element of nature.  This is such a beautiful time for standing still, quieting down, and nurturing the Earth element inside of us by using the earth itself.  The air is bit humid as we experience it in some regions.  In the transition from the hot heat of summer to the coolness of fall, we are in the in-between yang and yin phases, which is a very balanced state to be in.  Yang is signified by the masculine summer sun, and Yin is represented in the feminine winter moon.  It is more than perfect in every way that we just experienced a total solar eclipse!  The conjoining of the sun and the moon hitting the earth, ushering in Indian Summer is so beautifully timed for all of us to enjoy and reap the benefits of a very balanced state of being.  We all will feel both our masculine and feminine sides equally in the drivers seat of our life.  This means our yang energy, our driving force to do, make order, provide structure is around just as much as our yin energy to rest, rely on intuition, and evoke creativity.  A very delicious place to be and so is the food coming out of the earth.  Our fruits and vegetables are at their ripest; our farmer’s markets are filled to the brim with a variety of delectable treats.  Feast on the harvest inside and out, retreat to home and heart, cook, relax, and slow down.  The more you slow down right now the more you will relish in the beauty of it all.  

 

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Digestion

The Earth Element for the body has a lot to do with digestion, so eating healthy, whole foods is really the way to go.  The main organs that we work with right now are the stomach and Chinese spleen, more thought of as modern day pancreas.  So we want to eat just enough to nourish, but not too much to hinder digestion.  Remaining slow with all actions right now, including eating is the best thing you could do,  If there is too much heat in the body from summer, we might have acid reflux, stomach ulcers, indigestion, and problems with our stools.  Eating blander whole foods, cooked, yellow and orange in color can be very beneficial.

 

Emotions

In Chinese medicine we think our emotions are intertwined with our body, and there are certain feelings that correspond with an organ system.  When the spleen is taxed, we’ll have a propensity worry and ruminate at times to the point of obsessive thought patterns; when the spleen/stomach is healthy, we have a tendency to empathize and support others but not at the expense of our own health.  To keep the earth element emotion in us in check, meditation of all kinds is superb!  Staying with your own breath, your own body sensations, or a mantra is so beneficial for curbing worry and anxiety in its path.

 

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If we were overdoing it this summer, or not getting enough sleep, we might tire easily, feel unmotivated, or have some of those digestive and emotional concerns bubble up.  The Earth element in the body manifests its essence in our muscles, so moving our body in healthy gentle ways will lift fatigue.  One could engage with yoga, qi gong, tai chi, or prana and breath practices to circulate the qi and move the blood.  All of this is wonderful to nourish the blood to prep immunity for the upcoming fall season. 

 

These Indian summer weeks really are time to reflect, stay still, and rejoice in all the new beginnings that are happening around us right now.  Empathize with others, but also empathize with yourself, really listen to the inner landscape, for its a reflection of the earth’s landscape.  Seeing more of the beauty around you is only possible if you can reflect on the beauty within.  This is all Earth Element medicine.  Listen for it, because it here as your guidance.