Know that you possess the strong
Masculine principle [yang], yet abide
By the meek feminine principle [yin]
Thus, becoming ‘the flowing stream of the world
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (translation by Master Ni, Hua Ching)
I see many patients who work hard and play hard. It’s a feat to see how much we can accomplish in one day, and we place high value on productivity in our culture. A go-go-go mindset leaves little time for rest, which takes a toll eventually.
I propose we pause more. Sleep more. Meditate more. Single-tasking – the art of doing only one thing at a time.
In Chinese medicine, our deep energy reserves – inherited from our parents – are a finite Qi source stored in the kidneys. Day to day we should not be burning through this energy; we should fill up our daily tank through the Qi we get from food, drink, breath and sleep. Deep depletion happens when we undergo prolonged periods of stress, overwork, too much sex and overindulgence in rich foods and alcohol. Medical doctors call it adrenal fatigue. Acupuncturists call it Kidney Qi deficiency.
You can kind of get away with it until about age 40. At that point, the whisper of your body asking you to conserve energy (it talks to you through lower back pain, deep fatigue, early signs of aging, urinary symptoms, and fertility problems) become a louder roar as your body demands to be heard. Listen!
Winter is the season where kidney energy peaks, making it a good time to rebuild these deep reserves with acupuncture, herbs, and kidney nourishing foods.
So as we head into winter, align your body with the season of hibernation by focusing your energy inward. Embrace activities that are more Yin in nature. Yin is potential energy, like a seed in the frozen ground that sprouts in the spring when Yang (kinetic energy, fire) rises once again. Journal, cook more, rest and receive healing treatments. Focus on your close circle of friends and family, introverting slightly.
Some of my fast-paced patients tell me it is difficult to lie on the acupuncture table, totally still, for 30 minutes. But it gets easier. And people who find Yin activities to be challenging are probably those who are most Yin deficient. Restlessness, insomnia, anxiety and worry are signs that you need more stillness.
Life is like a marathon. If you sprint the first 40 years, you will not have much energy for the next 40 years.
Here are some other Yin activities for winter:
Play. Do hobbies and explore your passions just for the joy of it.
Relax in ways that nourish your mind, body and spirit, which may mean disengaging from electronics.
Ask yourself what you want from life. Work on aligning your inner vision (Yin) with your external life (Yang).
Practice yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong
Sip tea and broth.
Listen to music.
Avoid stimulants, such as coffee, nicotine, sugar and drugs.
Sleep longer. 8 hours, even if you think you can get by on less.
What other activities bring more Yin into your life? Please share your thoughts and questions!