Easing into Winter

Winter is the season of the kidneys.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, five phase theory, each season has a corresponding internal organ that is influenced by the dynamic forces in nature. It is believed that our physiology is strongly influenced by external seasonal changes and that our, physical, emotional, and spiritual health are best when we are aware of these changes and strive to live in harmony with them.

We are now transitioning into the deep winter season. Wintertime is the most yin time of the five seasons (based on Traditional Chinese Medicine 5 phases). Yin is passive, contractive, cool, dry and dark. In the autumn, the energy is beginning to wane and descend. The wintertime is an extension of this dynamic – the energy goes even deeper into the core of the earth for a long and necessary slumber.

Look at a tree for example. In the autumn, the days become shorter and cooler and the frost begins to settle in, tree sap is beginning to move downward into the roots through the trunk. The leaves are changing color and dropping to the ground because tree sap is no longer nourishing them. As we progress into the winter with temperatures that are even colder and daylight decreases further, the tree sap descends even deeper into the roots for a long winter slumber.

For us, our energy is moving downward and into the kidneys, which are the deepest and most yin organ in the body. This is in order to store physical energy in preparation for spring and the summer to come. It is a contemplative time of year – a time for deep and quiet introspection.

Here are some good things which encourage easing into and through winter:

  • Take long warm baths. This helps to nourish the kidneys and keeps the kidney energy well rooted.
  • Eat salty and bitter foods. Bitter foods include: rye, turnip, oats and burdock root. Salty foods include miso, soysauce, seaweed, millet and barley.
  • Cook foods for longer periods of time at a lower temperature. Warm and hearty soups, stews and whole grains are beneficial. Roasting vegetables with garlic, and ginger encourages internal warmth.
  • Sleep longer and rest more.
  • Take time to meditate, be still and quiet. Reconect with your inner spirit and reset your inner compass.
  • Re-evaluate your priorities.