The Five Elements
This is the Winter 2014-15 installment of my Seasonal Attunement series meant to serve as a guide post for good health in each season during the year.
“The ancient Chinese believed that the seasons have a profound cyclical effect on human growth and well-being – that we are influenced by climatic changes and should live in harmony with them.”
~Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods
A Winter in Wonder: Woven willfully like bones and water
As we seek to maintain good health in winter, lets harmonize ourselves with the principles of this season. Reading the underlying energy and patterning, we can hear the wisdom of our ancestors. The yin is strongest in winter and correlates with introspection and receptivity.
Chinese medicine and wisdom employs the 5 Element model, a functional wheel that connects the characteristic of the different earthly elements with that of the human body. Times of the day, month and year occupy their respective corresponding positions on this circular “map”. The elements are:
Water is the element that belongs to winter time. The Ancients saw water as a source of infinite energy. The Kidneys and Bladder are the water organs in Chinese medicine and therefore it is the best time of year to heal and strengthen your kidneys and adrenals.
Winter is the dark time of the wheel. The best medicine for your adrenals is to slow down; doing less, sleeping, and paying attention to dreams unify one with this yin time of the year.
Practices that regenerate and rejuvenate:
meditation, restorative yoga, qi gong, and of course the best kind of meditation, SLEEP 🙂
How do you nourish your water element?
What are your spiritual practices?
A DIET FOR WINTER
Diet and lifestyle have a direct impact on your spirit, your emotional life as well as your physical body. They are not separate entiities, all is connected. Bone Broth is an easy food to make that fortifies the body because it contains stem cells within the marrow. Because bones correspond to water, kidneys and winter, the principle of “like treats like” applies here. One of the vital nutrients in marrow is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, required for brain, eye and other organ development in infants. It offers this same healing as fortification in adults. Marrow is considered “jing” in chinese medicine which is the source of kidney vitality. Jing is a deep essence that determines one’s vitality, resistance to disease, and longevity.*
Broken Bone & Marrow Longevity Broth Recipe
Use Bones from organically raised animals, poultry is best.
Break the bones and cook just below boiling (use a crock pot!) for 18 hours
Add water as necessary.
Root vegetable should be added:
Carrots, celery, squash, beets, parsley
Slightly acid vegetables help to extract minerals
and nutrients from the bones and marrow
A tablespoon for two of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
may also be added.
When cooked, filter out the broth and store in glass jars in the fridge.
Drink a cup or two per day or use as a liquid base for other foods.
Winter time eating principle: Eating warming food
We want to keep our core warm and our skin cool in the winter time.
Warming food helps to:
• disperse cold
•helps to restore yang qi
• warms digestion, nourishes qi, replenishes fire
Here is a list of warming foods, great to eat in the winter time. (Always remember diet should also follow intuition and foods that may not agree with you should be avoided.
Beef, chicken, lamb (hot)
Beans and seaweeds are great for the kidneys and the bones and both contain a high content of magnesium and calcium. (Pitchford, p220) Also, beans may be cooked with a little bit of seaweed to make them more easily digested.
NATURE AS GUIDE
It is profoundly important to spend time in nature at all times throughout the year. Time close to the water can be an excellent choice in the winter months. Try to take regular visits or dates to the ocean or lake or pond. Still water. Connect with your own water element.
Stars. On a clear, cold night find yourself wandering outside taking in the light of the stars with your eyes, breath, and whole body. Store that light in you power center, just below your naval. Star light in the night can be a welcoming sight and feeling when our own star the sun is so low and dim in these darkest days of the year.
thank you for reading and I truly hope you take what most resonates with you and apply it to your life.
I will end with a list of keywords that might help you remember the wisdom of winter… Water, kidneys, adrenals, rest, rejuvenation, hibernation, sleep, meditation, qigong, bone broth, warming foods, oceans, lakes, ponds, stars….
Warm wishes in the New Year,
Cadie Federmeyer, LAc
*Factors that deplete jing include stess, fear, insecurity, and overwork, too much semen loss in men, women bearing too many children, toxins in food and water, intoxicating substances like alchohol, marijuana, cocaine, coffee, and tobacco; heavy metals; excessive sweet flavored food, too much dietary protein (Pitchford, P361-2)