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Winter 2023

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine the seasons affect our emotions. The idea is that what happens in the natural world also takes place inside of our bodies. Our body cycles through the seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. When we live in harmony with the season we discover health. Each one of us resonates with the seasons differently.   Some of us are attracted to the cold crisp climate of winter and others resonate with spring, summer, or fall.  Who loves winter? Who dislikes the cold?

Imagine the Yin Yang symbol: the white and the black, yin is this time of year.   Winter is cold, dark, wet, receptive, sinking, slow, contracting. It’s a time of stillness and quietude.  It’s the most Yin of all the seasons: the trees are in their skeleton form, outward signs of life have disappeared. There’s a lot of work going on but deep inside. The energy of winter is latent and all potential: in this state of resting deep within, energy is collected and held in reserve.

In a few months we will feel the tumultuous changes of spring bursting forth and then during the warmth of summer we might get out more and engage in additional social activities. Summer is followed by fall, when leaf by leaf the natural world descends into yin, the days shorten, the landscape scales back, and the trees are silhouetted against the white horizon.  Winter is cold and dark, qualities that preserve. Yang is the sun, fire, summer.

Our bodies reflect the natural world, during winter we tense our shoulders in the cold, or we feel the stiffness and contraction in our muscles, more arthritis and aching joints. Our feet are cold.  We can experience this as an inner coldness or a contraction and have difficulty warming up to people and coming out of our shell. This also can manifest simply as a kind of weariness for how much needs to get done and feeling like there is no will to do those things. After the holidays are over we can finally drop back and cocoon a bit on the coldest days.

Fear and anxiety are emotions associated with winter and water. Fear itself is not negative. But when anxiety becomes a chronic response to everything the water element is out of balance. A chronic low level of anxiety and a dread or gloomy feeling of foreboding about the future drains one’s energy. So we look at our activities notice when stress creeps in and drains us and we noticed what charges our battery. According to the philosophy of  Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are considered the source of all energy or chi within the body. They store all of the reserve Qi in the body so that it can be used in times of stress and change, or to heal, prevent illness, and age gracefully. During the winter months it is important to nourish our kidney Qi. It is the time where this energy can be most easily depleted. Our bodies are instinctively expressing the fundamental principles of winter – rest, reflection, conservation, and storage.

Be patient during these winter times with yourself and others and allow your energy to be recharged trusting that spring will come, and with it a natural increase in energy and the capacity to do all these projects. The energy of winter is like the energy of the seed, it is all potential with very little manifesting during the cold months of winter. The kidneys hold our bodies most basic fundamental energy, what we think of in Chinese Medicine as the source from which our will manifests effortlessly.

This a difficult time of year to power our way through something. It’s important to respect our limitations and have a clear sense of what can be done and act in accordance and not push our way through situations and become sick as a result. It is believed by harmonizing oneself with this season you stay healthier and prevent disease. So the most important thing you can do is to get enough rest. Allowing ourselves to simply be quiet and still, containing our energy within ourselves.  Winter gives way to spring. In the spring the woods come alive with the possibilities of growth and change. From the Equinox the darkest most Yin time of year the days grow longer. When we are balanced at this time of year we can relax and calm our anxieties and live with inner wisdom.