The forces of winter create cold in Heaven and water on Earth. They create the kidney organ and the bones within the body…the emotion fear, and the ability to make a groaning sound. –The Inner Classic
Water is the Winter Element and we need to live in accord for this season by understanding the power of this element: emphasis to be more introspective, receptive, storage oriented and to cool the external and warm the core seeking inner warmth of the body, mind and spiritual aspect of our lives. Following basic laws of nature will help you to stay healthy in winter.
The climate affects our external being and can affect us internally. We must heed attention to what is going around us and inside us. Climate is our surroundings, mood, weather, environment, atmosphere and common beliefs. We breathe fresh air into our life as we take in the climate that surrounds us.
Each season affect our strength and vulnerability. Internal and external balance occurs through adjusting ones health through eating, exercising and other factors affecting each season. Libation and Gastronomy (Drink and food): The Inner Classic advises the use of cooling foods in the winter. This means to encourage cooling of the exterior and concentrate the warmth within the interior and the lower body areas. The sounds of cooking and voices in the kitchen stimulate the appetite. In the winter warming food and herbs are recommended to combat the external cold. Warm hearty soup, root vegetables, whole grains and roasted nuts. Drinking plenty of water is essential for the cleansing of the body through the kidneys and bladder.
Adding both salty and bitter foods promote an inward and centering quality giving the ability to take and store Water. Too much of any one thing can be dangerous. Maintaining a balance is essential.
Salty foods include seaweeds, millet, miso and soy sauce. Bitter foods include celery, lettuce, quinoa, citrus peel, cabbage leaves and turnip. Bitter herbs are things like chicory (a great coffee substitute) and burdock root.
Sleep: (In the winter) people should retire early at night and rise late in morning and wait for the rising of the sun. –Nei Ching. Rest is essential for the storage of energy within the body. Lack of rest weakens ones power and depletes the resources.
Exercise: The Tao of nurturing life requires that one keep oneself as fluid and flexible as possible. One should not stay still for too long, nor should one exhaust oneself by trying to perform impossible tasks. One should learn how to exercise by observing nature. The fact that flowing Water never stagnates and a busy door with active hinges never rusts or rots. The answer is because they exercise themselves perpetually and are almost always moving. –Sun Ssu-mo
We can never be too clever and work to excel our highest expectations…the health of the kidney official in winter will help us achieve this.