Like the flower bulbs hibernating in the cold, frozen ground, during this season we also are resting, more withdrawn, replenishing our reserves for the upcoming Spring.

Winter is a time for getting plenty of rest and good nutrition.  It is the Yin-most cycle of the energetic year, the opposite of the Yang-most cycle of Summer.  Because of this, it is a more inward and sensitive time.  We may be more emotional, because Winter is a time to seek comfort.  Anxieties can also arise, for all living creatures are stressed by the harsh climate and/or the struggle to survive.

In the deep stillness, Winter teaches us to let things be…it is the true Yin energy.  During Winter, we rely on the preparation we made in the warmer cycles of the year.  It is a time of quiet reflection, deep rest, and living off our reserves.  One of the major changes of modern times is that with electricity we often eschew the opportunity to go to sleep earlier, to relax.  Instead we are too active and use up our reserves of time or energy.

The Winter Season corresponds to the organ systems of the Water Element, the kidney and the bladder.  They are hidden deep within the body where they govern the storage and elimination of water.  If this system is not functioning well, the rest of our system is stressed.  The Chinese believe that this is where our deep strength and stamina lie.  Because these organs govern the spine, weakness in the Water Element can lead to back problems, weak bones, infertility, dental problems, and a variety of other health problems.

Our diets in Winter should address the colder weather.  A diet rich in complex carbohydrates and wholesome, clean proteins will produce more internal body heat.  Use vegetable soups, root vegetables, garlic and ginger spices, cayenne pepper, millet, brown rice, and legumes to add warmth and help support the Chi of the kidney and the bladder.  If Vegetarian, miso and tempeh are good substitutes for animal proteins, as they also help replenish the Water Element energy.  Iced drinks are never healthy, especially in Winter.  Even if you live in a tropical climate, eating fewer fruits and raw salads is also recommended.

Winter is a time for resting, not for initiating new activities.  It’s a time to eat warm foods, not a time for fasting or poor nutrition.  It’s a time for listening to our own heart, and for listening to others.  Nourish yourself.  Nourish your body, mind, and spirit to be prepared for the Spring, the season of new beginnings.