“The wise nourish life by flowing with the four seasons and adapting to cold or heat, by harmonizing joy and anger in a tranquil dwelling, by balancing yin and yang, and what is hard and soft. So it is that dissolute evil cannot reach the man of wisdom, and he will be witness to a long life.” – Huangdi Neijing Suwen
Take cues from Mother Nature this winter. It’s cold and dark, so slow down, stay inside, and rest. The ancient Chinese believed that human beings should live in harmony with the natural cycles of their environment.
In nature, winter represents yin; it is inactive, cold and damp. Reflect on your health and consolidate your qi throughout the season to prepare for the spring renewal and rise in energy. In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are considered the source of all energy within the body. They store the reserve qi so that it can be used in times of stress, fear and change, or to heal and prevent illness. With the harsh elements of a Wisconsin winter, your qi can easily become depleted, so nourish your kidneys to preserve your qi and prevent an imbalance in your body.
Winter is also ruled by the water element, which is associated with the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands. A few common symptoms associated with imbalances in water are:
- Lower back pain
- Knee pain and weakness
- Problems with urinary retention
- Fatigue and shortness of breath
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Sexual problems
- Anxiety and excessive fear
- High blood pressure and/or occipital headaches
- Inflexibility and resistance to change
While 8 Branches doesn’t suggest going into total hibernation, it is good idea to slow down your normal routine and succumb to your feelings of lethargy. Above all, listen to your body and nurture!