Many of us look forward to the winter solstice because it marks the beginning of the gradual increase in daylight hours. In the Gregorian calendar it is the first day of winter. In the Five Phase Theory of Chinese Medicine, winter is the most yin season. The attributes corresponding to the winter season are the water element, the kidney organ which include the bladder and adrenal glands, and the color blue/black. Fear is the challenging and often called negative emotion of winter which can be resolved with strong will and creativity.
Embracing Winter Phase
The seasonal traits of winter, such as cold weather, dampness, and dark/short days, encourage us to slow down, go inward and enjoy our warm comfortable homes. Nature and our qigong practice help us more deeply embrace and understand how to live in harmony with the natural cycles of the seasons.
Using nature as our guide, it is a time to surrender and learn what this season has to offer. Trees have lost their leaves, grasses are brown, and activities in our natural surroundings appear still and at rest.
This is the time of year to conserve our strength and energy (qi). It is essential to rest more during winter to build and maintain a strong immune system. This also aids in faster recovery from illness. This is a great time to go to bed early and enjoy sleeping in.
We are nourished by taking time to sit by the fire, eat more cooked vs. raw seasonal vegetables, and drink only warm or hot liquids. To further conserve qi it helps to protect yourself from external cold elements by keeping your head, neck, low back (kidney area), knees, ankles and feet warm. This is the time to wear hats and scarves along with cozy socks and boots. Keep your kidneys warm with wide belts or extra layers.
In the winter season, keep your qigong practices directed inward with minimal physical effort. Relax deeply and allow qi to support your movements. This is an opportunity to find the stillness within the depths of your being. Embrace the darkness of the season by going within. Use this time to reflect and prepare for the metamorphosis that will take place in the months ahead. We are planting seeds for spring!
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” ~ John Steinbeck
Planting Seeds of Creativity
During winter, some people may experience reluctance to explore their inner landscape due to fear, which is the challenging emotion of the Winter Phase. Creativity and strong will are the resolving qualities we can cultivate to reduce fear. This is not the time to be overly busy, stay up late or socialize more. As a nurturing and replenishing alternative, practice self-acceptance. Take heed of the signals from your body that let you know when recharging time is needed. Be patient and kind to yourself. Embrace the information you receive during this dark time as part of the dance of yin and yang, dark and light, so that the seeds of creativity you plant inwardly will be ready to germinate in the coming spring months.