In Chinese medicine, the seasons play an integral role in our lives and health. They guide us by showing us how to live during those 3 or so months.
How do they guide us?
Hold on to your horses, I’m going to get deep here.
In 5 Element theory, we are merely tiny extensions of the interconnected web of nature and the universe. We are a microcosm of all things. Pretty neat, right?
Because we are reflections of nature and the universe, it benefits us to live in correspondence with them.
When we do this, rather than fighting the huge momentum of those natural tendencies, we are flowing with them. Things get easier.
The seasons are a huge part of how nature guides our internal temperament.
Unfortunately, in modern times we are less connected than ever with these natural rhythms. I think we even believe we can defy them.
That’s a bit of a silly notion from a 5 Element perspective, because we are them. You can’t run from what you’re made up of.
With climate controlled buildings and residences, massive amounts of food available at all times, and long and stressful schedules, it is easy to feel almost entirely removed from a seasonal shift.
We do tend to notice when there is less daylight. Does this stop us? Not really.
We keep trucking along, denying our connection to nature.
It’s incredibly worthwhile to start tuning into the seasons and the natural world. Check in with yourself about how you feel at certain times of the year.
Most of us use daylight as our guide; we’ll certainly notice the long summer evenings or the early dusk of winter. Vision is only one sense! Step outside and really take it in!
- Feel the quality of the air — is it crisp or humid? Cool or balmy?
- Smell of your surroundings — is it fresh with new growth? Or a bit rotten with decay?
- Listen to your environment — are there birds singing? Or do you hear the clatter of bare tree branches in the wind?
- Taste the food of the season — have wonderful citrus fruits in the winter and juicy melon and berries in the summer. What flavors do you think are the most prominent that time of year?
When we really take a moment to feel the season with all our senses, we nourish ourselves.
We align with the season and connect with a vital part of ourselves.
We gain powerful insight into how we could be living. More in tune with the rhythm of nature.
The more we align our lives with the seasons, the more easily our lives will flow.
Many people dislike winter and fall.
These seasons restrict our addiction to busy.
We want to go 24/7, have things on demand at any time, and the natural world certainly isn't going to stop us!
Winter and fall are a necessary break from the busy! They are the yin time of year. Yin is:
I like to think of yin as a deep, still pool in the cave of a mountain. Serene, nourishing, and rejuvenating through its silence and lack of activity.
People assume this is negative space that must be filled; the passivity must be used somehow or it's not, well, useful!
There is great value to the stillness. We need this stillness after the hubbub and energy of the spring and summer.
Spring and summer are the yang time of year. Yang is:
The yang time of year sounds more fun, right? Doing stuff! Energy! Excitement!
If you ask most people in the United States what their favorite season is, you’ll get the vast majority saying spring or summer.
As a culture, the US values yang more than it does yin. It almost doesn’t see the point of yin.
We just need to go-go-go until we simply can’t anymore, then life is over.
Yin and yang are meant to be balanced forces; this is why the year is divided evenly between them!
If we have too much of either (usually yang) or too little of either (usually yin), we create disharmony.
Learning to value the yin seasons is crucial to your wellbeing. Fall and winter are, by nature, meant to be restorative.
Moments are not meant to be filled with activity, but a lack thereof. And that’s ok.
With this passivity, there is still activity, just a more internal form.
Yin seasons are a time of reflection and restoration. You must let the rest of the year settle so you can discern what has come to pass.
Then you’ll be able to put the lessons of the year to use when the new spring yang wakes us up from winter hibernation.
Innately, we know we need to slow down during winter and fall. But the culture we live in presses us forward.
According to Chinese medicine, the guiding force in our lives is nature — not our jobs, money, other people, sense of responsibility, or anything else.
So slow down, take a deep breath, and listen to what the seasons tell you.