Why is important to know about the changes of seasons from a Chinese Medical perspective? The short answer is simple: the balance of our lives and our health moves in rhythm with the changing seasons, whether we realize it or not.
The first two chapters of the foundational medical classic are about living in harmony with and understanding the seasons of nature. Part of the prescription for living a complete, healthy life is to ‘model ourselves off of yin-yang,’ which is a big way of saying to live in harmony with the seasons.
The three months of winter
are called closing and storing.
Water freezes, Earth cracks.
No more influence from the yang.
– Su Wen ch. 2
In the solar calendar, winter is already upon us – and it began on November 7th at 6:42pm EST(1). This is a big difference from the ‘standard’ calendar that we’re more used to in the USA – the one that says winter begins around December 21st. In actuality, from the perspective of the light, winter – as a movement of darkness – is at its peak at December 21st, the ‘shortest/darkest day of the year.’ From there, the light is building and building until it peaks at the height of summer, on around June 21st.
The climate – and our bodies – follow the light, so as the light is really changing into its winter movement (which lasts until February), we need to prepare ourselves to be most ready for the effects of winter, the climate. Nature is doing this – most of the leaves have fallen and the trees are consolidating their resources inward, which is exactly the recipe for us:
One goes to bed early; one gets up late.
Everything must be done according to
the light of the sun.
Exerting the will
as if buried, as if hidden
– Su Wen ch. 2
The direction of winter is inward – a necessary and healthy retreat from the world. This is the season for stewed foods and warm nights inside, ideally around a fire (good luck in NYC, though there are some hotels and bars with fireplaces!)
We’ll continue the exploration of winter as the season develops. Stay warm! Rest well! If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.