Winter affords an opportunity to go deep within ourselves and reclaim scattered energy, reconnect with the richness of the inner world, and preserve and cultivate internal resources so that we may vibrantly spring forth in March when the Spring Equinox gives rise to new ideas and exciting beginnings that sprout with boundless energy from the preserve of the winter slumber.
This newsletter will gently guide you through some great suggestions to make the most of the energy of this season and bring yourself into alignment with its gifts.
According to the ancient Chinese Medical text, Nei Jing, Winter is called the season of “shutting and storing”. In this period, one should be kept warm, dress warmly and take strict prevention against the cold so that the Yang energy may not be disturbed; one should go to bed early and get up late to wait for the sun, keep the spirit hidden, have a private consideration in the heart. If these principles are violated, the Kidney will be hurt.
With traditional medicine, treatment is aimed at supporting the warming Yang energy, nourishing deep internal resources, supporting the immune system, and strengthening the body to prevent wasting energy and cold.
As we are past the Winter Solstice, the days are getting longer – but it still gets dark early and the sunrise is not as quick as it will be. It is important to get plenty of sleep by going to bed early, and sleeping in as much as possible.
One problem — those pesky computer/phone/TV screens and their blue back light that stimulates the brain to be awake and shuts down the production of melatonin, a key neurotransmitter our body naturally secretes to help us fall asleep at the appropriate time.
Solution — altering the backlight of the screens to match the natural sleep cycle is VERY easy. For one, there’s a quick and easy application that you can download onto your computer – it alters the screen in accordance with your local clock, so that at 10pm you’re looking at the gentle orange glow of a campfire as you prepare to go to sleep, instead of staring into the blazing midday sun: https://justgetflux.com/news/pages/macquickstart/ You can also wear very cool (I’m not hip, but I think Orange is STILL the new Black?) orange shades after sundown to help keep your brain’s programming natural. Choose more “warming” foods to counter the tendency to get chilled. As the weather cools and the body needs to generate more warmth, incorporate more cooked foods and warming spices in your meals. To cultivate the most energy, dat dishes made with whole grains, squashes, beans, peas and root vegetables. Lamb and chicken are very “warming” meats.
Ginger is a natural antihistamine and decongestant. It also nourishes the spleen and stomach – in Chinese medicine, that’s where the Lung meridian starts, so it indirectly nourishes the lungs and helps respiration too!
Apples are in season! With the skin, they contain the flavonoid quercetin, which can reduce allergic reactions by acting as an antihistamine, as well as decreasing inflammation.
Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin:
Hello beta-carotene! These foods are rich with carotenoids, which are thought to reduce inflammation in the airways. Root vegetables overall are very important for a strong and healthy body, and are in season all autumn and winter long.
Known as Feng Mi in Oriental Medicine, is warming and moisturizing and has many health benefits. It contains anti-oxidants and fights the effects of aging, is antibacterial, antiviral and anti fungal. Honey is used to soothe the skin and encourage the growth of healthy tissue. Enjoy in your tea, on foods, or as a facial mask!
Garlic boosts immunity, increasing ability to fight off infection. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels. As it is a warming food, it is excellent to use in winter cooking to bring warmth to the body. One or two cloves a day is recommended for optimum health!