Dark and cold.  Common adjectives that describe what the Winter season may represent to many of us.  Perhaps this time of year is not one you look forward to living in New England with visions of snow shoveling, scraping ice off our windshields, and short supply of daylight hours.  Rather than focus on what we might judge as negative attributes, look to the flip side and relish what the season has to offer opportunity to rest, restore, and revitalize.

     That’s just what Winter is in the Chinese perspective...a time to recharge and reserve energy.  This is the most “Yin” time of the year.  The principles of Yin & Yang theory are quite simple yet very profound.  The theory is elegant in its explanation of all phenomena in the universe.  Yin represents the more quiescent, dark, moist, cold, and potential energy that abounds, while Yang represents the active, light, dry, heat, and kinetic energy that is everywhere.  Seasonal changes are just one example of the cyclical nature of Yin and Yang transformation.  This transformation occurs all around us and within us...and the dynamic cycle never stops!

     Okay, so enough with my lecture on Yin & Yang.  Let me get back to my point...the idea of embracing the gift the “Yin” Winter months offer us.  Time and space to slow down.  Now that the holidays are over we all can take this to heart.  Honor the fundamental principles of rest, conservation and storage inherent in the season by engaging in more reflective activities.  Start journaling your thoughts and ideas.  Set goals.  Sleep more.  Eat wholesome warm meals.  Try to step off the treadmill of modern life and live in sync with what nature is telling us to do.  In a few months all the planning and re-charging will pay off when we can spring (literally) into action.  And the beauty of this cycle is that we’ll be ready to forge forward with exuberance in the season of rebirth, Spring, if we’ve if properly prepared through the Winter.

     So, settle into the quiet and dark and cold.  Don’t get swept up into the frenetic energy that surrounds us in the artificial rules we’ve created to govern our lives.  Listen to nature and slow down.  I part with a quote from a classic on Chinese medicine...

   “The Wise nourish life by flowing with the four seasons and adapting to cold or

      heat, by harmonizing joy and anger in a tranquil dwelling, by balancing Yin

      and Yang, and what is hard and soft.  So it is that dissolute evil cannot reach the

      man of  wisdom, and he will be witness to a long life.”

      ----Huangdi Neijing Suwen