The yin of winter
I have a passion for living in tune with the seasons.
In our modern life, it is so easy to forget to do it.
We can spend the whole of winter rugged up in our home with the heating on and never venture outside.
We can spend the whole of summer in our home with the airconditioning on and never venture outside.
To be honest, I spend some of my winters and summers like that.
I am still getting used to the different weather here.
I find the summer really, really hot.
I don't have enough winter clothes to really enjoy being outside this time of year, so I would rather sit inside.
Which is actually also a good thing, this time of year.
Because winter is a time for stillness and reflection.
An inward time.
A time when yin is at it's peak.
Winter is the season of death and decay, when most things in nature reach the end of their cycle and and return to the earth.
I enjoy this time.
It is a time to rest.
If we try to keep going, we will burn ourselves out.
Unfortunately, that is what we do in our modern lives.
I once had a boyfriend who was so busy with his job and his head that he only realised that Christmas was around the corner when it was a few days away.
Living in this way is not sustainable.
If we don't live in tune with the earth's cycles, we are missing out on really getting to know ourselves.
It also affects our health.
If we live like the earth, we live better.
Wake when she wakes.
Sleep when she sleeps.
I read this fascinating article on surviving winter from a Chinese Medicine perspective.
Here is a summary of the article:
(Words mostly from the article, some of them, mine)
- Sleep: In an ideal world, during winter we would be in bed not long after sunset and wake at sunrise. Our working day would be short and slow paced. Get to bed earlier, this builds up our yin reserves so that we can burn our yang in summer.
- Keep warm: The kidneys hate the cold and are most susceptible to it in the winter. Although the kidneys are organs of water, they are the source of fire in the body. This fire can be diminished when the body is invaded by cold, wind and damp, leading to symptoms of cold extremities, lower back pain, sore knees, lack of libido and fatigue. Wear a scarf and keep covered up especially in windy and cold weather. Wind can drive cold into the bladder channel, causing a stiff neck and can lead to cold invading the organs which leads to pain and disease.
- Be quiet: Reflect on what is past, observe what is now and dream of what is to come. Inspiration and insight comes to us in still, quiet moments. Now is not the time for huge projects, it is the time for rest and recuperation after the business of spring and summer.
- Eat for the seasons: This is one of the reasons that I get my veggies delivered and I eat organically. I know what is in season and that is what is good for my body right now. Foods have heating and cooling qualities, so if I eat a tropical mango during winter - which grows in hot weather - I am sure to be cooling down my body, something I don't want this time of year. Eat lots of soups, stews, beans, lentils and if you eat meat - increase your quantity. Meat is very grounding and this is a time for going deeper into the earth and it's energies. It is normal to gain up to 4kg in the winter. This makes up part of your yin for the yan months.
- Keep up your water intake: The kidneys govern and regulate the water in the body and maintain the electrolyte balance. Be mindful of increasing your water intake, our homes also become drier due the us heating them up, so this tends to dehydrate us more.
- Exercise: Gentle, mindful exercises are good for this time of year. Think yoga, pilates tai chi, feldenkrais, or just a brisk walk in nature.
- Treat yourself to a massage: Have a Chinese massage. This is a great way to get qi and blood moving without exertion. Reflexology is also great for this time of year because of the connection of the kidneys to the feet.
I hope that you are keeping warm and that you are being mindful about slowing down.
If you are in the Northern hemisphere, I hope that you are enjoying the salads, sunshine and expansiveness of the season.
Blessings to you.