In my last blog, I shared that Fall is the season to prepare for the Winter months. As we approach the Winter Solstice(December 21, 2013), we can take the time to honor the stillness that sits deep in ourselves, and avoid exertion of energy. The Winter is a time to embrace solitude and introspection and to return to a practice of acceptance and integration of the year and it’s lessons. I know for many of us the holidays can be stressful and anything but restful and introspective – so just do your best, even if that means a short walk around the block by yourself or 5 minutes of relaxed breathing with your smart phone off 😉
Chinese tradition sees the Winter Solstice as a time of transition when the Yin movement toward darkness transitions to the Yang movement toward light. The 21st is the shortest day and the longest night of the year, and there is belief that there is a moment of perfect harmony between the Yin and Yang on this day, which leads to new creation and rebirth. December then is a good month to reflect on our light and dark parts, to accept both as vital parts of us, and to see them not as good versus bad but as what makes us beautiful, unique and ever evolving. Within the darkness there exists light and in the light exists moments of darkness. We need both for balance and for growth, for without darkness, we would never grow into lighter versions of ourselves.
During this time, some of us may feel moody, fearful, depressed or lethargic. Don’t force yourself to do any extraneous activities and allow yourself to just feel these feelings. They are okay and natural. Understanding our emotions as part of Nature’s cycles can help slow us down so we may appreciate the quiet and peace that is always present, deep down, once we allow ourselves to move through these feelings. Our bodies instinctively want to rest, reflect, conserve and store energy so that we are ready for the outburst of activity in the coming year. Some of us may feel pressured to be outgoing during a season full of holiday parties and family gatherings. But it’s perfectly okay to be introspective and connect with your deeper feelings even within a gathering – it might make for some interesting and real interactions!
Winter is associated with the Water Element and the Kidneys, which are the source of Qi, Blood and Essence and which govern the energy to heal, to prevent illness and to help with aging gracefully. Since the Kidneys govern the low back, be mindful of back injuries, which persist in the Winter months and keep this area warm and covered. Digestion also slows down as well as circulation so it is a good time to take lots of deep breaths and practice restorative yoga to nourish your Qi. Also, it is important to eat warming foods like hearty soups and stews, whole grains, roasted nuts, root vegetables, beans, ginger, miso and seaweed to warm the core and nourish the Yin. Make sure you sleep early, rest well, relax and release stress on a regular basis. Try to include more yoga, meditation, breathing and naps into your daily routine. Seasonal acupuncture and herbal medicine can also help nourish the organ system and bring balance and harmony to your system.
Sending good health, and I look forward to seeing you soon!
Sascha, Tree of Qi Acupuncture Clinic
Shitake Mushroom and Miso Soup
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin, white and green parts separated
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
8 cups water
3 (6-inch) pieces dried kelp (kombu)
1/4 cup bonito flakes
3 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup light miso
1 pound baby bok choy, cut in quarters
Warming carrot soup
1/2 pound carrots
1/2 orange pepper
some sprinkles of curry powder
couple squeezes of lime water
3 cloves of garlic
Blend in high-speed blender until warm and smooth. Garnish with more cilantro.
In a large soup pot over medium heat add the scallion white parts,
ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Cook for 1 minute and add 8 cups
water. Rinse the kombu and add it to the pot along with the bonito
flakes. Bring it to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes – do not let it
boil. Remove the kombu and set it aside. Add the dried mushrooms and
miso to the pot and let it simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or
until the mushrooms are hydrated and tender. Add the bok choy and
simmer until it is tender, about 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and
garnish with the reserved green parts of scallions. You can also
garnish with Crisp Soba Noodles