I love reading about ancient Chinese wisdom. There are so many interesting and informative books on Chinese Medicine. One of my absolute favourites also happens to be one of the most ancient and revered texts – the ‘Nei Jing: The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine’. This book provides lots of incredible information about staying well during the cold months.
Considered to be one of the most important classical texts of Chinese Medicine, it is very much part of the foundation on which the practice as we know it today was built. It’s a staggeringly wise piece of text that remains as accurate and relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.
Nei Jing Advice for Winter Care
So what does this captivating text have to say about looking after our health and wellbeing during Winter – and what is this mysterious “Evil of Cold”?
During the Winter months, the Nei Jing says:
“Do not disturb the yang qi. Go to rest early and rise late – wait for the sun to shine. You must wait for the sun to shine. Avoid cold, and seek warmth, and do not allow sweat to flow away through the skin. , causing the qi to be carried away quickly. Opposing the way of Winter harms the Kidneys, so in Spring this causes limpness with receding qi, and there is little to support generation.”
So what does this mean?
‘Qi’ is the energy, or life force, that flows inside all of us and through every living thing. We always have both yin and yang qi within us, but our yang qi is at its lowest during the Winter. During this time, yang energy is overpowered by the dominant yin. This means we may find ourselves lacking in energy, or perhaps craving the warmth and comfort of our homes. This is the time of year when we look forward to some much-needed peace and rest.
But we often choose to ignore these instinctive feelings because we are in the festive season. Instead, we force ourselves to go out partying. We stay up late and dress ourselves in beautiful party-wear that may look fantastic, but isn’t warm or particularly comfortable! Of course, we know that we should wear a cosy coat, scarf and hat, but we invariably leave them at home because they’re not part of the party ensemble… and this is where the Evil of Cold comes in.
The Evil of Cold
To protect ourselves from The Evil of Cold, we need to listen to the advice laid out in the Nei Jing.
The Evil of Cold can deplete our already fragile yang qi even further. For our health and wellbeing, we need to take steps to protect and preserve it as much as we possibly can. When we overuse what reserves we have, this scant yang qi disperses and our defensive qi – our Wei qi – is overpowered. This leaves us open to the danger of pathogens invading the body and causing us problems.
Preserving Our Qi
To preserve our qi, we need to rest. Much like Winter itself, we go inwards, conserve our energy and begin to build up our reserves once again. We should take advantage of the long dark nights by going to bed earlier and getting up later; we benefit from the restorative sleep.
Gentle qigong practice is our best form of exercise right now as we should try to avoid sweating when possible. This is because when we sweat, yang energy is dispersed further, again leaving us open to the perils of The Evil Cold. You can follow a qigong session over on my Instagram – @katie_brindle.
We must also try to stay warm by keeping our skin covered; our back, feet, neck and head are the main entry points of cold. Bundle yourself up in a warm hat, woolly scarf and gloves when you go outside. And when you’re at home, don’t forget to wear your slippers!
Most importantly of all, we should protect our Kidneys as much as possible. The Kidneys are the organs most closely associated with the Winter because they are the Water element. If our Kidney qi, or ‘essence’ (known as ‘jing’) is depleted, we might not have the strength required for that surge of energy we need in the Spring for fresh starts and new beginnings.
And that’s how to avoid the Evil of Cold! Check out my free Guides for more information on how you can protect your Kidneys for Winter.
See you next time!