Winter: A time to wait for the sun to rise

by Debbie Yu, MS, L.Ac

 

Chapter two of the Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine) says:

 “The three months of winter,

they denote securing and storing…

 do not disturb the yang [qi]

go to rest early and rise late

you must wait for the sun to shine (Unschuld)”

 

JasharWinter is the only season the Classics insists that one MUST get up late, after the sun rises. All other seasons say to rise early. The Chinese character for “must” is a heart with a slash through it. It is against what the heart desires. The Classics know winter is the last place one wants to go. We tend to schedule beachside vacations to Hawaii or Mexico to beat those winter blues. We have a difficult time not-being or finding stillness. We exert energy when we shouldn’t, and thus become fatigued when we need it the most.

The ancient Chinese character for winter is an image of the sun going into a bottle, turned upside down.  The best prescription for one that might be fatigued or generally deficient is precisely just that – or as my teacher said, “shutting up and going to bed.”

If falling asleep is difficult for you, continue reading.

When camping, or when living in Nepal where we had very little electricity (and was essentially outside the majority of the time), I noticed my circadian rhythm worked at its optimal best. I did not rely on my alarm clock; I rose with the sun. I eliminated nightly activities due to lack of light; but it did not bother me. I found myself extremely tired once the sun had set

This can be easily recreated in our modern home – simply (simply??!!) turn off all the lights in the evening (you choose your time). Light some candles if needed. Listen to your body. I bet it’ll ask you to sleep.

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