The Dao Does… Living with the Season: Winter
‘Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished’. – Lao Tzu
Living according to the season is one of the most important principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine for health & healing.
Different seasons affect both our physical and mental states, how you feel in Summer may differ from how you feel in Winter, and this is something your practitioner would like you to be mindful of. Taoism states the more we mirror nature, the healthier we will be. Sleep, food, and lifestyle choices should be gently tweaked each season to bring us into rhythm with natural change. This will optimise energy levels and assist the central nervous system to establish a sense of calm.
Living in Winter – Winter is a Yin dominant time due to the association with the Kidney Organ & the Water Element. Yin is dark, cold, inward, internal, and a time of reflection. It is time for stillness and hibernation. It is hard to adapt our lives to the seasons, especially living in the fast-paced modern world. However, it is important to find the appropriate balance for rest & repair to ensure we aren’t pouring from an empty cup.
+ We always suggest following an 80% warm diet, with more importance on this in the cooler months. Focusing on consuming warming soups & stews full of root vegetables and adequate protein. Cups of herbal tea (ginger is a great choice to warm the Stomach & Spleen), and bone broths.
+ The Kidney organ governs the Winter season; therefore, it is also good to eat more foods to help tonify the energy. Foods that are saltier in nature, such as miso soup, as well seafood, and nuts & seeds like black sesame seeds.
+ The Nei Jing (ancient TCM text) states, ‘to go to sleep earlier, and rise later’ to conserve your energy, slow down and enjoy the stillness. Always aiming for 8-10 hrs of sleep a night, as a lack of sleep and overwork depletes the Kidney energy especially.
+ Slow, softer exercises that a gentler on the body, exercises that are high intensity in the Cold weather can be damaging to our joints & bones. Pilates, yoga and walking are good choices throughout the Wintertime.
Lifestyle & Clothing Choices:
+ Meditation is recommended at all times of the year; however, Winter lends itself to this kind of stillness so prioritising this practice would be beneficial.
+ Stay warm! This will help you avoid any unwanted ‘external evils’ eg. cold. Keeping your feet & back warm will support the Kidney energy and blood flow through to the reproductive organs. The Kidney meridian begins on the base of the foot traveling all the way through the middle, and its partner organ the Bladder travels through the back & neck. Socks & scarves should be your best friend this season!
By Molly Burton