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Winter's Renewal: The Gift of Slowing Down

by Sharon Gordon

 

"Turn down the noise.  Reduce the speed.  Be like the somnolent bears, or those other animals that slow down and almost die in the cold season. Let it be the way it is.  The magic is there in its power." -  Henry Mitchel

If you feel tired and drained, you are not alone. "Lack of energy" is one of the top five complaints that doctors hear in their offices. According to Oriental medicine, the cold months of winter are the perfect time to recharge your battery and generate vital energy known as “Qi”- in order to live, look, and feel your best.

The ancient Chinese believed that human beings should live in harmony with the natural cycles of their environment. The cold and darkness of winter urges us to slow down. This is the time of year to reflect on health, replenish energy and conserve strength.

Winter is ruled by the Water element, which is associated with the Kidneys, Bladder and Adrenal Glands. The Kidneys are considered the source of all energy or “Qi” within the body. They store all of the reserve Qi in the body so that it can be used in times of stress and change, or to heal, prevent illness, and age gracefully.

During the winter months, it is important to nurture and nourish our Kidney Qi; it is the time where this energy can be most easily depleted. Our bodies are instinctively expressing the fundamental principles of winter – rest, reflection, conservation and storage.

"Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour." -  John Boswell

The Nei Ching, an ancient Chinese classic, advises people to go to sleep early and rise late, after the sun's rays have warmed the atmosphere a bit. This preserves your own Yang Qi for the task of warming your body in the face of cold.

To help warm the body’s core and keeps us nourished eat warm hearty soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts .  Sleep early, rest well, stay warm, and expend a minimum quantity of energy.

Below is a warming, black bean soup recipe:

From an Eastern perspective, black beans are warming in nature. They are thought to tonify the Kidney Qi and nourish Yin and Blood.
 
 From a Western perspective, black beans are rich in antioxidants and an excellent source of protein, folate, iron and fiber. Kidney Qi Boosting Black Bean Soup:                                                        Ingredients *1 pound black beans

 *1 bay leaf *Salt to taste *A few cloves of chopped garlic *1 teaspoon dry mustard powder *1 cup dry sherry (not cooking sherry)



Instructions

                                                                                                          1. Pick over beans to remove any dirt, stones or foreign objects. Wash well, then soak for 8 hours in ample cold water.



2. Drain beans and cover with a generous amount of fresh water.

3. Bring to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan with the bay leaf.

4. Skim off foam, lower heat, and simmer, partially covered, until beans are just tender, about 1 hour.

 Add onion and continue to cook until onion becomes extremely soft, about 1 more hour.



5. Add salt to taste and garlic. Continue to cook, adding a little boiling water if necessary, until beans are very soft, about 1-2 hours more.



6. Remove bay leaf and turn off heat. Ladle beans in batches into a blender or food processor and puree, or use an immersion blender and puree soup directly in the saucepan.


7. Add dry mustard powder and dry sherry. Correct seasoning. Reheat and serve, adding any garnishes you wish, such as slices of lemon or freshly chopped herbs.
 


The Flu and Chinese Medicine - It seems that the flu gets more and more virulent each year, gaining strength through additional strains. More and more people "catch" it and the symptoms go on and on. In a way, this syndrome is an indication of our stress level, the diminishing effectiveness of our immune systems, and the decline of our vitality.
 


Here's a few nutritional tips to help you restore and renew.

Water - The Kidneys are associated with the Water element. Drink ample water, at room temperature, throughout the day.

Kidney Shaped Foods - Black beans and kidney beans are excellent examples of kidney shaped foods that nourish and benefit Kidney Qi.

Blue and Black Foods - The colors blue and black correspond to the Water element of the Kidneys and are thought to strengthen the Water element. Include blueberries, blackberries, mulberry and black beans in your diet.

Seeds - Flax, pumpkin, sunflower and black sesame seeds relate to fertility and growth which is governed by Kidney Qi.

Nuts - Walnuts and chestnuts have been found to be especially effective for increasing Kidney Qi.

Vegetables - Dark, leafy green vegetables are the best choice for Kidney Qi. Other Kidney Qi boosting veggies include asparagus, cucumbers and celery.


Seasonal acupuncture treatments in winter serve to nurture and nourish kidney Qi which can greatly enhance the body's ability to thrive in times of stress, aid in healing, prevent illness and increase vitality.

To schedule your resorative acupuncture session call: 207-482-0725.