Under heaven, nothing is more soft and yielding than water. Yet, for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better. It has no equal. The weak can overcome the strong; The supple can overcome the stiff. Under heaven, everyone knows this. Yet, no one puts it into practice. —Tao Te Ching, Ch. 78
As we begin the new year, we have officially cycled into the water element! In contrast to the fire, warmth, and yang energy of summer, this is the most yin time of the year. Darkness, stillness and cold temperatures prevail. Within the snowy folds of winter is an invitation to rest, nourish and consolidate resources. Through exploring the organs and acupuncture channels associated with the water element, we can find ways to live harmoniously with the season, and better prepare our bodies for the coming year.
Ancient healing traditions such as Ayurveda see the transitions between the seasons as an opportunity to pause, take a break, and clear out imbalances accumulated in the previous few months. Much as we love our summers here in Montana, the long days, high temperatures and intense activity can result in excess heat lodging in our bodies.
In Ayurvedic teaching, any substance we take into our bodies that is not completely digested and either assimilated or eliminated can become a toxin, called “ama.” Ama tends to collect first in the digestive system, then spill over into the parts of the body in which we are uniquely vulnerable.
To have a deeper understanding and appreciation of Chinese medicine, I often encourage my patients to explore the art of seasonal living. The relationship between yin and yang, and the theory of the five elements are two of the foundations upon which all of Chinese medicine is built. The five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) are cyclical and represent a continuous natural movement that can be felt and observed throughout the changing seasons.
The Fire element is most strongly felt during the summer season, a time of full expression. The seeds of spring are coming to fruition and there is an upward and outward movement of yang energy, which can be seen and felt all around us.
With winter being the longest season of the year out here in Montana, colds have been circulating with full force. As a practitioner of Chinese medicine, I am always striving to educate others on how valuable acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be throughout the year, especially during seasonal transitions.
As winter begins to retreat and spring approaches, it’s never too early to start preparing for allergy season with the help of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Whether your goal is to alleviate symptoms, restore balance after an illness, or good old fashion prevention, Chinese medicine can be tailored to meet your body’s specific needs alongside your wellness goals.