BEACON WELLNESS ARTS CENTER
WATER (Winter) Dec 21 - Mar 20 - Kidneys and Bladder. Day are shorter, and nights are colder as the season of Winter is upon us. This is a time when ideally we should be curtailing activities and winding down and going within to conserve our energy for the longs cold months ahead. Instead, commerce has trained us to do otherwise, and after running around hurriedly preparing for holiday festivities, we find ourselves just worn out and stressed out. However, not to worry! There ARE some things you can do for yourself to keep your energy balanced during this hectic time.
Winter is the time of the Water Element, which means that the kidneys and bladder will be most active over the next several months. What can you do to help support your body and your Water Element organs during this time?
1. Instead of stopping off at Starbuck's for that holiday pick-me-up coffee drink, find at least 15 minutes each day to recharge your batteries with a power nap. Ideally this is best done between the hours of 3pm and 7 pm, the time of day when the Water Element is active. Caffeine might give you a temporary burst of energy, but in the long run, it is only adding more stress to your adrenal glands. For your power nap, you can just close your eyes and focus on breathing in and out of your bones, or you can do the Bone Breathing Meditation, or you can listen to some soothing, relaxing music. Do all of these with your eyes CLOSED and you will help to relax your nervous system. When you are finished with your power nap/meditation, you will feel refreshed and recharged, as if you have actually had a good night's sleep. (Click here to order the Bone Breathing Meditation CD.)
2. You can follow a daily practice of Chi Nei Tsang Self-Massage. Just 5-15 minutes a day of deep breathing exercises combined with some focused navel massage will help keep your body healthy and strong by stimulating and detoxifying all of your body's systems. This can also help to relax you and rebalance your nervous system - a definite MUST for the busy holiday season. (Click here to order the Chi Nei Tsang Self-Massage CD.)
3. Shorter days bring fewer daylight hours which can mean that some people might find themselves feeling SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), literally. Not to worry. I have a simple, quick, and effective exercise you can do when the sun is out OR with full spectrum lighting when those rainy, cloudy days seem to overtake us. It is known as the Sunning Exercise, and it will help your pineal gland produce more seratonin as well as more melatonin, which means you will feel happier and more upbeat during the day AND be able to sleep better at night. It's cheap, it's safe, AND it works!
4. Eat SLOW - Seasonal, Local, Organic, Whole: Our bodies need a more heat-producing diet (depending on how cold your local climate gets) at this time of year. You can use more garlic, ginger, and cayenne to add a little spice to your winter life and diet. Miso is also valuable as a winter seasoning for its immune-boosting benefits as well as being a natural salt that supports the kidneys and adrenals. It strengthens the blood and lymph and is a good source of enzymes, calcium, and iron. Miso is also alkalinizing and its fermentation helps with digestion and metabolism. Make the following part of your Winter Diet: Warm healthy soups and stews made with organic ingredients, bone broths, whole grains (avoid refined, processed foods), seasonal winter fruits and veggies, more foods from the sea such as fatty fish rich in Omega-3s, and seaweed, which nourishes the endocrine system. If you are prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs), then make sure to drink plenty of unsweetened cranberry or blueberry juice.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! This IS the time of the Water Element so make sure to drink plenty of H2O - usual recommended amount is half your body weight in fluid ounces per day, e.g you weigh 130 lbs, drink 65 oz water/day.
6. Most important of all: Take care of the #1 person in your life - that's YOU! - and you will have more energy to take care of everything else. Don't be afraid to say NO when you feel obligated to extend yourself beyond your limits. You will be setting a good example for those you love, showing them that it is important AND OK to take care of yourself.
What is EARTH in the Five Elements?
Earth is the season of late summer, or Indian summer, the period of abundance, fullness, and plenty. The sun is beginning to wane from its extreme height in the sky during the summer, and we start to feel a welcome relief of the heat of summer. Crops are ready to be picked and all of nature is bursting with life. Earth is the time of fulfillment and nourishment in the natural world. Earth provides the container from which all of life can unfold and flourish.
On the physical level, Earth is represented by the digestive system - the spleen/pancreas and stomach, the lymphatic system, and the muscles. It manifests in our ability to move and act spontaneously, comfortably, and harmoniously in the moment. When our Earth element is out of balance, we can feel lack of nourishment, lethargy, fatigue, and a lack of energy. We can experience blood sugar imbalances and digestive upsets.
On the emotional and mental level, Earth represents stability, grounding, support, regularity, consistency, and balance that harmonizes all of life's functions. Feeling out of balance here can lead to feelings of worry, anxiety, insecurity, excessive thinking and obsession.
A healthy Inner Earth Element allows us to feel at home anywhere, to be comfortable, nurturing, supportive. We gain clear perspective, good judgment, sound pragmatism, and stability of mind and spirit. Elemental Earth gives us our sense of identity and authenticity.
How can you stay healthy during the season of Earth? Because Earth is the Harvest season of Indian Summer, there is usually a cornucopia of abundant produce available, especially at your local Farmers' Market. Making sure to eat lots of seasonal locally grown organic produce from your area will help your body and digestive system get more in tune with the rhythm of the seasons. You will also notice that any digestive discomfort you might have will start to decrease, and you will feel a better stronger sense of well being.
Earth is about your home and comfort level. If you feel your Earth moving out of balance, try attending to matters around your home. Home improvement projects, house cleaning, spending more time in the kitchen cooking up tasty and comforting recipes will help bring your Inner Earth into balance. Earth is also about regularity and rhythm. Make sure to eat your meals at regular times each day, and keep your schedule as regular as possible so that your Inner Earth feels satisfied. Take up a dance class, drumming, yoga, a martial art...anything that has rhythm to it.
THE METAL ELEMENT - AUTUMN
What is METAL in the Five Elements?
Autumn is the season of Metal in the Chinese Five Elements. It is the cooling phase between the Fire of summer and the Water of winter. It is the time of year when we reap the benefits of all that we have sown during spring and summer as we prepare to go within as winter approaches. Metal is the most abstract power in life and rules our feelings at both the physical and emotional levels. In our bodies, it relates to the lungs, the large intestine, the skin, and the smooth connective tissue called fasciae.
What can you do to stay healthy during this season?Eat SLOW foods- Seasonal, Local, Organic, Whole Seasonal fruits and veggies: citrus fruits, grapes, apples, pears, tomatoes, walnuts, sunflower seeds, brown rice, corn, wheat (or any other whole grains including gluten-free grains), squashes, pumpkins, and whatever else you find in your local farmers' markets.
Do some type of cleanse for up to a week. The lungs and large intestine are 2 areas in your body that MUST stay clean. They are organs of elimination and need to stay clean to help eliminate toxins from the body. Suggested cleanses are: freshly juiced grape juice, apple or pear juice, or other veggie or fruit juices (do NOT combine fruit and veggie juices!), the Master Cleanser (2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice, 1-2 Tbsp 100% maple syrup, 1/10 tsp cayenne pepper, 8 oz pure spring water). To cleanse the colon, you can do an enema regimen and/or get a few colonics. Remember to hydrate properly also – ideally, half your body weight in fluid ounces of pure spring water only,NOT just any liquid.
Keep your stress level LOW. Do this through exercise,meditation, chi kung, doing things that make you happy, spending time with people you love, laughing. Do daily Chi Kung and Chi Nei Tsang Self-Care and get regular sessions from a CNT Practitioner to keep your body in balance and to help you process and eliminate as you go through the season.