Winter is the time where our energy moves inwards and sits deeper in the body. This is the time for resting, regeneration and repair. It is a time for slowing down, a time for meditation – to be still and quiet. Our Qi (life force/vital energy) needs to be conserved by staying warm and indoors, staying reasonably calm and quiet – not overexerting as sweating during this time can weaken the Qi overall. Keep the pores closed by not getting too hot by sitting next to fires/heaters, only exercise lightly (walking, jogging, cycling, yoga) and dress appropriately. Cold and wind can easily seep into our bodies lowering our immunity, so wear scarves, beanies and gloves when needed.
Listening is at its sharpest during this quiet time. Listening to others, rather than expending our energy which is an outwards movement. Also listening to ourself – what does the body need? Deepen the understanding of yourself and others.
According to the principles of Chinese Medicine, Winter is associated with the Kidneys, which in this system of medicine house our constitutional energy – this energy weakens as we age. So Winter is a time to really nourish and look after this energy. Keeping our feet warm is one way in which to do this, as the Kidney Meridian (or channel) begins on the sole of the food. Reducing stress levels and anxiety is also important.
Diet is an important factor in nourishing the Kidneys. The associated flavour is salty, so foods with a salty taste and nature (not in excess) will assist with nourishing this energy. These foods moisten dryness, soften hardness, enforce digestion, calm and improve the appetite. An excess of salty foods will stress the Kidneys and have a detrimental effect.
Nutritious warming foods – root veges, roasts, stews, casseroles, soups. Legumes. Maybe some aromatic spices….cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, cloves, fennel, star anise. Cooked for longer at lower temperatures draws out the richness in flavours and properties.
Watch nature around you for ideas on how to keep yourself healthy – flowers aren’t blooming, animals aren’t out and about for long periods of time, the leaves on the trees have fallen and won’t grow again until spring. Rise and retire with the sun – have shorter days. Don’t expose yourself to the elements if you can help it. Stay quiet and still – meditate. Conserve and nourish your energy so by Spring you are ready to rise!