...: WINTER AND KIDNEY QI [ENERGY] :...
In Chinese medicine, winter is aligned with the Kidneys and their associated Qi-energy network. Kidney Qi is said to be the most important of all Qi, in fact it is the root of all the Qi in the body.
Kidney Qi determines our ability to grow and develop, physically and mentally. It controls the bones, spine [especially the lower back], legs, ears [hearing], head hair, spinal cord and brain. It also is directly connected with the reproductive system and fertility. A deficiency of Kidney Qi can mean a foetus may not be able to grow and develop correctly. I always encourage my mothers-to-be to take tonics for their Kidney Qi in order that their child has the best possible start to life and so that the mother will not be left depleted after the birth.
In Taoist metaphysics, winter is the time of hibernation and conservation. The sap in trees and plants generally withdraws from the surface and goes deep within and in extremely cold climates many animals literally hibernate for months. In line with the universe and the environment, we are encouraged to conserve our energy, to keep warm, eat warm and nourishing foods.
During the winter months it is appropriate to want to sleep longer, do less and stay home more. Naturally, winter is cold and we are disinclined to want to do too much activity. This is perfectly fine!! If this is how you are feeling, just let it be. Trying to push against it will be to force yourself to go against the grain of the Universe, and the Tao, and you are bound to become unwell.
Winter is a great time to catch up on those books you want to read or movies you want to see. Take short walks to keep your system moving, but try to avoid doing excessive activity. This is the season of inactivity, so enjoy it because with spring there will be a burst of energy and moving into summer the desire will be to do lots and sleep little. So now is the time to recharge your batteries for the warmer months.
Winter is also the time to tonify yourself, especially your Kidney Qi. There are a great many excellent tonics available in Chinese medicine, but most are not readily available unless you know a Chinese herbalist. See below for some tonic recipes that are great winter foods, but the best are specialised herbal preparations only available from a good Chinese herbalist.
Having said that, there is one tonic I have recently been introduced to that is used in Chinese medicine ~ and is even a Kidney energy tonic. It is called Morinda citrifolia. It is marketed as Tahitian Noni Juice. This is a marvellous regulator and strengthener of the Life Force energy. It tonifies the immune system, the endocrine system, the digestive system, the cardiovascular system and the nervous system. It is a profound anti-oxidant and therefore excellent detoxifier. I highly recommend including this supplement as it has been able to help many people reinstate a sense of normality to their health and wellbeing.
...: WINTER AND THE WATER ELEMENT :...
Water can also destroy Fire, but if Fire tries to destroy Water, Water transforms into steam and escapes! And while we may be able to survive without Fire, nothing can continue to exist without Water. Therefore the ancients believed Water to be the most powerful and important of all the elements.
Water is in all living things. Our bodies are made up of 70% water and therefore we need to consume a large amount of pure water daily to keep our cells flushed. Many people find this difficult to do in winter because it is so cold. I recommend drinking warm water in that case. Tea, coffee or herbal teas are no substitute for pure water.
...: WINTER FOODS :...
of the most important aspects of winter, as I have already mentioned,
is that it is the best time to tonify the body. Each season has specific
foods that are considered tonics for the particular aspect of Life Force
Energy associated with that season. Obviously, warm and nourishing foods
like soups and stews are most appropriate during the winter months,
but what about some specific foods?
Salt is the taste that is aligned with the Water Element. Salt is very important to our life and our body. However, too much salt causes problems. Over the past 20 years Western medicine has made us believe that salt is bad and therefore we should cut it out of the diet altogether. This is absolutely true of processed, or “supermarket” salt. However, it is now coming to light that those people who followed this direction are having many of the same problems as those who ate too much salt!
According to Chinese medicine, salt is a necessary part of our diet. In small amounts it is quite tonifying to the Yin aspect of Kidney energy. This is the fluids and lubricating substances. An excess though weakens it. Thus, the old adage “all things in moderation” is always a good rule of thumb. Salt also softens hard accumulations and cools the blood.
The type of salt used is also very important. The best is unrefined sea salt. Why is sea salt best? Because it still has all the minerals in it that nature provided ~ in fact some 82 minerals make up the total and they are in the exact same ratio as the minerals that make up our blood. Sodium chloride is only one of these! And this is what you buy in the supermarket as salt. What happens to the rest? Well they are isolated and sold off to industry to make fertilisers, pesticides and many other things.
Think about this: if you had an accident where you lost a lot of blood and were rushed to hospital, the first thing they would do is hook you up to a saline drip ~ not blood! This is because the mineral content of the blood is vitally important to life.
So the first thing to do for your winter diet is ensure you are eating some sea salt every day. This can be simply added to your foods, or you may choose to use a quality, organic Soy Sauce or Miso soup.
For those non-vegetarians winter is the ideal time to eat meat, because meat is the most Yang or warming of foods, especially lamb and red meat. For vegetarians, beans and legumes, like adzuki, kidney beans and chickpeas, are the best tonics for Kidney Energy.
Other good Yang tonics are ginger, garlic, onion and shallots. For people who get hot easily or who get hot in bed at night it is best to avoid these foods. Note I have not included chilli. Chilli is not considered a warming food, yes it is hot but it generally causes sweating, which is a cooling action! Many countries around the tropics use a lot of chilli, and it is for this reason. Chilli also easily overheats the system and drains the Yin fluids, so should be used cautiously.
...: WINTER RECIPES :...
As mentioned earlier, all soups and stews are excellent Winter foods, use plenty of lentils, dried beans and peas, a little salt or miso to flavour, or add some meat
Jap pumpkin 1 Onion dark sesame oil Tamari or Soy Sauce
Saute onion and ginger in sesame oil, in large pot, season with tamari or soy sauce. Add pumpkin and stir well; simmer 5 minutes. Pour enough water into pot to make up the number of servings you require. Add cumin, cinnamon, and coriander; mix well. Let cool then puree before serving.
*[genmai miso is brown rice soy bean paste available from most health food stores and should be added last and not boiled].
This recipe is from Geoffrey Wilson’s “Take This Pebble from my Hand”.
Apple and Cinnamon
Cinnamon warms the Kidney Yang [the heating and energy generating aspects of Kidney Qi]. Try adding it to anything to give a little more winter tonic effect. Apples are a winter or cool climate fruit, therefore are a good way to nourish Yin [the lubricating, moisturising and nourishing aspects of Qi] in winter.
out desired amount of organic apple juice into a saucepan. Add cinnamon
sticks, some fresh ginger and a couple of cloves to your taste. Warm
the apple juice over heat and simmer lightly for a few minutes. Serve
...: WINTER EMOTIONS :...
The emotions most aligned with Winter are our fight and flight response ~ or fear. Fear is a necessary and good emotion when it arises appropriately, however, for too many people their lives are run by fear. This then causes their autonomic nerve response to be constantly on, pushing adrenaline into their bodies creating stress. This can occur due to external issues that are really creating such fear; but more often than not it is because of physical or mental stress that drains their Kidney Qi, and this automatically generates feelings of fear, panic, paranoia or insecurity.
The answer is to learn how to de-stress ~ take a meditation class; learn Qi Gong, or Tai Chi or Yoga ~ or simply stop for a moment, take several very deep breaths focusing on your lower abdomen as you breathe in, then reassess your situation.
Also, tonify your Kidney Qi. Many people find that by taking specific Kidney herbs for other, physical problems, that their fears disappear. You really need to see a good Chinese herbalist for your specific needs, however a Chinese herbal formula that generally proves very good for most people is called: Liu Wei Di Huang Wan.
In Taoist Inner Alchemy it is well known that although fear is the emotion aligned with the Kidneys and Winter, the more natural state is being alert, at peace and gentle. If you observe any wild animal in it’s natural surroundings you will notice a sense of gentleness, alertness and vigilance. Only when threatened will notice the fear factor kick in. In our society and with our speedy lifestyles too many of us live in this latter state, even when we are not being threatened.
This seasons gift to us to remember our need to stay calm, to be gentle with ourselves and take rests often during Winter, nourish our bodies and especially our Kidney Qi, thus providing a good base for our year to begin with Spring [which is really the beginning of the year!]
final note here, the Water Element and Winter are also aligned with
our willpower and ambition. It is said that when we are not utilising
our willpower appropriately or are hellbent on attaining our perceived
ambitions, that we are inclined to activate this element’s destructive
drive which is played out by over-indulging in alcohol. If this is a
problem, then perhaps you need to reassess your internal energy state
and get some treatment for rebalancing and strengthening your Kidney
Qi ~ as well as your Liver!
...: SALLY'S SCHEDULE :...
At present I have no new workshops - I will be doing more in Spring Time.
I am beginning to put together information for a book I wish to write on Women’s Health and Chinese Medicine and will keep you informed as to it’s progress and possible acceptance by a publisher!
Keep warm, conserve your Qi, nourish your body for a burst of energy with Spring!
health and happiness, Sally Yasukawa.
SPA - Fountain Plaza, Erina
Body Conditioning Part I - rejuvenation exercises:
Hormone Regulation Part I - Learn "The Deer QiGong Exercise"
used by ancient female Taoist tantric adepts to maintain their hormonal
balance, increase sexual energy, prevent conception and rejuvenate their
Course: The Vitality, Longevity and Rejuvenation
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