First Frost or the beginning of Winter (Chinese “立冬” Li Dong) is one of the 24 solar terms according to the Chinese Lunar Calender. This year the First Frost began on November 7 2021. It marks the beginning of winter for the northern hemisphere.
Solar Term is a calendar of twenty-four periods and climate to govern agricultural arrangements in ancient China and functions even now. Each solar term has about 15 days and it is decided by the position of the sun in the sky.
In this blog post, I want to share with you my most revered ancient Chinese wisdom from the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, or the Neijing. I first encountered the Neijing nine years ago when I started studying Traditional Chinese Medicine as part of my training to become a macrobiotic chef. Till today, I am still studying this amazing jewel in both Chinese and English and contemplating its meaning so I can fully appreciate its wisdom. I feel intense gratitude to my father for making sure I attended Chinese school without which, I would not able to comprehend this text in its original language.
The Neijing is the most monumental classic to Chinese Medicine and Taoism [ the text is based on a conversation between the Yellow Emperor (who reigned during the middle of the third millennium BCE) and his disciple].
To me, the Neijing is so much more, it gives a holistic picture of human life. In a nutshell, it tells us how our way of life and our environment affects our health and wellbeing on all levels. If we choose to live in resonance with the ‘greater’ or Cosmic order, we can skillfully use this harmony to stimulate, rejuvenate and tonify our natural life force and our goals and wishes for ourselves and for the benefit of all sentient beings.
The Neijing sets out the art of life for the four seasons- Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. My intention is to share its wisdom at the start of each Season with you here.
Here is a summary of the Winter Wisdom for well-being from the Neijing.
1. Cultivate rest & storage : 冬天養藏
The overriding theme for winter is one of rest and storage. It is like a system being shut down for maintenance, to store enough fuel for the new beginnings in Spring.
As each season is part of the larger cycle, if you want to be healthy in Spring, you start by taking care of yourself now in Winter.
2. More Being (Yin) less Doing (Yang): 秋冬養陰
To resonate with this energetic state, we are invited to cultivate the attitude of being – Yin – the energy of moon or feminine essence ie to be receptive, to listen, and just ‘be’ – to allow things to happen as opposed to the masculine energy of making things happen.
3. Rise after sunrise 早臥晚起，必待日光
Winter is the only season where the Neijing advises us to rise after the sun has risen. It resonates with the rest mode.
4. Keep Body Temperature Warm. 去寒就溫，無泄皮膚
This is especially true if you live in a place of cold winter. Keep warm, avoid cold food, icy drinks, eat warm and even rich food, keep your feet warm (wear socks and slippers indoors).
5. Nourish Kidneys and Preserve Jing (vital essence) 養腎藏精
For example, Autumn is the season of our Lungs and Winter is the season of our Kidneys.
In winter, we take steps to keep our kidneys strong and healthy. Kidneys are also the storehouses for our vital essence “Jing”. This vital essence is the original source of our life force Qi. It is akin to the wax of the candle. When the candle runs out, the candle is burnt out.
3. Breath work: Cultivate a sense of safety by coming home to your body. Your breath is your best connector from your outer body to your inner body. Close your eyes and take a few long, slow and deep breaths. Breathe into your lower Dantian -Ren 4- Source Gate ( 3-4 fingers below your navel) as frequently as possible.
4. Keep your lower back and feet warm. Soaking your feet in a warm foot bath before bed helps to keep your body warm and a good night sleep.
5. Tapping your teeth together gently to create saliva (fluid) to nourish your internal systems with juiciness! Tap x36 each time, retaining saliva in your month and swallow to Source Gate (navel) at the end. Repeat at least 2 sets per day.
Inviting you to rest and store this winter- as a matter of attitude, and perhaps also slow things down in different areas of your life, so you will be ready to blossom in the Spring.
I will be sharing a lot more from Neijing’s ancient in my weekly Om Juice, to help you live your life in the flow with juice and resilience. Be the first to know and sign up for my weekly Om Juice.
In the meantime, if you are interested to explore more natural self-care during the winter season, please check out the Juicy Rituals Online Course. You can also get an immediate access to a webinar on how to do a Qi Facial here. Or join me in my weekly public class at Yoga Mala Hong Kong for a MyoYoga class- themed by season.
There is great Love here for you.