Chinese Medicine - 5 Elements

Rest is the Story - Entering Autumn

As we enter the Autumn season, the air becomes cool and crisp, and the leaves are starting to turn. Autumn brings the harvest of crops, shorter days and preparation for winter. It is a time of ripening, withering, and completion. This is a process of moving inward, and the inclination to hibernate is this season’s natural rhythm.

There is a concept in Chinese Medicine that wind has the power to bring illness into an unprecedented body. A “cold” in Chinese medical vocabulary is called a “wind cold.” As the weather changes, the body must adjust, and outward energy begins to move in.

Autumn Aequinoctium - Equinox Health

The Autumn Equinox  marks the official end of summer. Nights become longer and days shorter as we slide into the cooler season. Chinese Medicine sees Nature and its patterns, forms and seasons as part of the natural rhythm of life. Autumn is the beginning of the yin (feminine) cycle, as daylight shortens. This is  the time of harvest, of gathering and preparing for the colder, darker season of winter.

Autumn is ruled by Metal, and  time to gather and organise for winter, return inside and reflect on life. We use metal to help us collect and harvest in the form of tools and vessels. This is a time to seek to restore balance in the world and in ourselves.

Slow Down for Kidney's Sake

The Kidney is the foundation for growth, development, and reproduction; for healthy bones and marrow; and for brain functions of memory, concentration, and intelligence. Resting, storing and conserving energy in winter recharges us, so nourish and support Kidneys by layering them with warmth and protection.

The “Kids” want extra warmth and tonification during cold months to sustain solid energy and enhanced well being throughout the year. Kidneys are the furnace to spark metabolic processes of the body, and they govern the low back, so conserve Kidney Chi and take care of your back.

Winter = Warm Kidneys

Winter is full Yin and is cool, damp, slow, feminine and quiet as movement slows down. Our bodies naturally want to rest, reflect, conserve and store energy. Take time for introspection, rest, and conserving energy prepares for renewed growth and activity in the new year.

This is the season of Yin (dark and conserving) over Yang (light and moving). Chinese Medicine sees Natures patterns, forms and seasons in our bodies and emotions. Each season is associated with an element, emotion, organ, and taste. If we are in harmony with our world, we adapt to life and stay healthy.

Awakening Spring Green

Seasons have rhythms in their cycles, and each season represents an organ of the body, corresponding to one of the Five Elements. As seasons shift, the organs are nurtured, cleansed and supported to promote wellness and health.

In spring, earth begins anew, and it is a season of birth and growth. Energy builds, as animals rise from hibernation, seeds sprout, and blossoms appear. This is a season of fertility, beginnings and new ideas, growth in relationships and planting seeds for the future.

Healthy Green Livering

Each season in Nature relates to an element and so Metal is Autumn, Water is Winter, Wood is Spring, and Fire and Earth is Summer. Wood-Spring is the first season and is about growth and beginnings and new activity.

Since Spring is Wood; it is represented as a tree, sybolising growth and activity. In Chinese Astrology, Wood is divided into Yin & Yang where Yang Wood (jiǎ) is solid and sturdy like a mature tree , and Yin Wood (yǐ) is light and supple like the new shoots of a plant. Yoga can help you invigorate Spring Liver Chi!

Welcoming the Light

Spring is when energy starts to build and grow. Animals come out of hibernation, green sprouts everywhere as buds begin to bloom. Our bodies feel the brighter, longer days, and we want to  get Ch’i moving.

In winter Ch’i enters deeper into the body and it’s natural to want to sleep longer and spend less time outdoors. Now we are transitioning from winter to spring, so it’s a good time to go outside and get moving!

Some days may seem mild, but it’s critical to stay warm to prevent getting sick. Changing activity level, diet and noticing  your emotions can make the transition easier on body and mind. Here’s some tips to keep energy up this season!

Summer Heart Sizzle

Chinese Medicine is based on balancing opposites in nature; dark and light, hot and cold, masculine and feminine , Yin and Yang.  All seasons have associated flavours, tastes, colours, body systems, disease and emotions which effect health. We can balance our diet and activity patterns by looking to Nature and learn how to balance ourselves with environmental and seasonal changes.

Summer is the most active Yang time of year, with flowers blooming, vegetables ripening and our own holidays and outdoor activities.  It is a time of expansion, growth, joy, activity and creativity. In Summer heat, the body undergoes vigorous metabolic processes.

Yin Yang Returns to Earth

As the summer heat fades into memory, we move from the Late Summer season to Autumn. Nights become longer and days shorter as we slide into a cooler season. Times of transition are challenging for our health and the transition from steady warm summer heat to autumn cool down is an important one.

For Chinese people, this is a season of transition in caring for the self, body and mind. It is a time to get preventative over reactive. We believe this is the time to strengthen the system physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Seasons and energies are reflected in our bodies and emotions, as microcosm reflect the macrocosm, and for Chinese, seasons are associated with the elements, our emotions, specific internal organs, and certain tastes. Autumn also begins the feminine Yin cycle, as the actual daylight shortens.

Returning to the Center of Balance

As the Summer ends, we feel a tiredness, an overdoneness of summer’s fire as we burn into the energy of Earth. This is now the season of Late Summer and Yang Fire has to make its way toward the Yin seasons of cooling weather in the energy of Earth and Late Summer.

Late Summer is Earth, balancing in still tranquility and represented by the Stomach and Spleen as the organs that allow us to be nourished. Earth energy helps thoughts and feelings get processed and digested as emotional and mental food. Earth is empathy and compassion, but can turn into worry and anxiety, just as in Nature where a barren earth cannot bear abundant harvest. The idea of “decrease” is the energy of Late Summer, yet also the time of extraordinary abundance. This is a time that we can reap the abundance to strengthen the body, cultivate connections toward loving relationships, challenge the intellect and develop our spiritual practice.

Between Earth and Sky... Late Summer Healing

Chinese Medicine does not separate mind and body – life situations and emotions are all considered in a treatment plan for health. Excessive emotions are seen to adversely affect the organ systems responsible for the creation and regulation of Chi or Prana.  As a yogi, I see how my Yoga practice has a strong effect on the physical body,  yet I feel it has an even stronger effect on regulating the emotional and subtle energies of the body.

Late Summer 

There is an extra season in Chinese Medicine – Late Summer. It begins late August through Autumn equinox. Chinese Medicine believes Late Summer belongs to Earth element. This is when Earths luscious fruits and vegetables are bursting for harvest.

Earth is a point of stillness in the cycle of seasons, with the lush tranquil energy of heat, ripening and full. This is a time of slowing down. Earth season acts as the transition from Yang to Yin energy, supporting the space between the cycle of Spring growth (Wood), active Summer abundance (Fire) and the inward, cooler emotions of Fall and Winter (Metal & Water). Earth element is associated with the stomach, spleen, pancreas, muscles, and is related to the mouth.

Meridians & More

Both Sides of the Mountain

Traditional health sciences of India and China share many of the same concepts. Ayurveda, the ancient tradition of India, is usually translated as “science of life”. Chinese Medicine is integral to all things in traditional Chinese lifestyle.

Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine share theory, rather than data to enhance life.  Ayurveda and Chinese medicine are energetic systems that work with internal imbalances to help us obtain optimum health and healing. These include how we eat, move and live in our world.

5 Flavours of Health

Traditional health sciences of India and China share many similiar concepts. Ayurveda, the ancient tradition of India, is usually translated as “science of life”. Chinese philosophy and social structure are integrally related to the harmony of body and spirit.

Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine see these concepts as instructional, rather than scientific, and aimed at enhancing life. Both systems focus on balancing Energy for optimum health.

In Chinese medicine the concepts of Yin and Yang and Five Elements have a strong influence, along with the internal organ systems (Zangfu).

Sukkha Dukkha

DUKKHA – दुक्ख

This practice of Yoga is for us to look deeply into ourselves, and this is one of the most difficult things to do. It is much easier to distract, do something else, think about things more “upbeat”

Yet somehow, I think we may be missing something when we choose to not feel pain and loss. Having grown up with a practice of Buddhist meditation, it is part of daily practice to remember that we grow old, get sick and die.

As my teacher and mentor Judith always reminds me – “Oh you happy Buddhists!”

It is part of Buddhist practice to remind ourselves of the impermanence of things, and of life. This somehow is a joyous thing, and allows us to remember the beauty of all things, the goodness.

Heart Speak

Crossing Multi Culti Bridges

If you have spent any time with Asian people, you may notice the world of difference in the way we think, act and treat each other than in the West.

As someone who is Hong Kong born, living in America, and has spent a lifetime crossing and making bridges to understand my multi-culti-masala mix, I have often examined and compared different languages, customs and cultures, and have decided it just comes down to heart communication.

And it might be just a language thing…

What Colour is Your Prayer Flag?

of colorful prayer flags fluttering in the wind, a dance of shadow and light against the majestic Himalayas. These speak of freedom and wishes for goodness and peace on the planet

In the high mountains, it is a simple way to gain merit by putting up prayer flags for the benefit of all beings. Prayer flags are ancient Buddhist prayers, mantras and symbols that have a powerful spiritual vibration carried by and into the wind.

Prayer flags date to ancient Tibet, China, Persia and India, and the texts and symbols are based in Buddhist philosophy. Pre-Buddhist shamanistic priests used colored flags in healing ceremonies, arranging them around the ill harmonising the elements for physical and mental health. Colored flags were used to appease gods and spirits of the mountains, valleys, lakes and streams, thought to cause natural disasters and disease.

A Must Read for All...

Forgive Them Anyway

This verse was written by Mother Teresa. It is engraved on the wall of her hospital for children in Calcutta and dedicated to people throughout the world.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

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