Winter in Chinese Medicine (I)
The understanding of Seasons, Wisdom and adaptibility (Wu Wei)
I. Understanding the Seasons according to CM‘As above, so below.’
It is becoming well understood that our environment -family, pollution, weather- has a great effect on our well-being. In the past, they understood this phenomenon as the world at large (macro-cosmos) had a direct connection to our own being (micro-cosmos).
This ‘natural law’ has been very well observed and documented within Chinese Health traditions.
Even if we are looking at things from a scientific perspective. Since the beginning of time, both animals and humans have been following and adjusting to the changes in the seasons.
They understood that health is based on our recognition of change and our flexibility to adapt to it. It is not simply about ‘going with the flow’, but rather holding awareness in every moment, so we have the ability to do the correct action at the right time (Wu Wei). This brings us back to the previous topic on Discernment.
II. Winter in CMWinter is associated with the Water element in the 5 phase theory (Wuxing).
It is all about slowing down, reflecting, and storing all that is beneficial to us.
Autumn was the perfect time to use the Metal energy to cut away all unnecessary attachments.
Now the Water element is really helping us to reconsider all the learning we had done this year.
Winter is associated with the Kidneys. In Chinese Medicine, they are seen as a sort of power storage in our body. From a practical point of view, we should look at its associated challenging emotion -Fear- and Heavenly Virtue -Wisdom.
III. The Five Phases/Elements in relation to the Wisdom of Winter
Wisdom is based on our own experiences (Fire). It is clarified by paying close attention (Earth) to learn from it and discern (Metal) whether following specific patterns and decisions is beneficial for us. As we Integrate (Earth) everything according to our core values we will be able to derive the lessons (Water) that can be formed into:
Wisdom, once they are filled with awareness and clarity.
Using new understandings (Water) we are able to make clear goals and plans (Wood) that are Clear (Fire) and aligned (Earth) with our core values and needs.
It cannot be stressed enough that all of these have to be done with Compassion (Wood) towards the self and others.
Meditative practices are at the centre of such reflective work and they are very much supported by both the Winter season and the Astrological year of Yang Water (Tiger) which is coming to an end soon.
In future posts, I will talk more about Fear and its effects on our overall health as well as on our ‘Will’, which is another aspect associated with the Kidneys.
In conclusion, taking advantage of Seasonal tendencies can help to keep us happy and healthy. Whilst going against the flow -continuing life with the same intensity- can hinder our well-being and spiritual development.
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If you feel out of sync with nature, Acupuncture and Tuina massage can be effective tools to get you “synced up”. Feel free to reach out.