Loving Your Jing – Winter Medicine

By Nick Polizzi

Two thousand years ago, the following words of truth were spoken by one of the world’s legendary healers:

“Whoever wishes to investigate medicine properly, should proceed thus… Consider the seasons of the year, and what effects each of them produces  – for they are not at all alike, but differ much from themselves in regard to their changes.”

—Hippocrates, Greek physician of the Age of Pericles

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), practitioners consider each season when treating patients as well. Their belief is that when we’re not living in harmony with the season, we often get sick with things like colds and the flu.

Have you noticed in your own life that you tend to get sick at the same time every year? Or perhaps even suffer from a mild seasonal depression?

For many, this often happens during winter. But there are plenty of others who have struggles during other seasons, like spring and summer. Could it be, that these physical and emotional struggles are because we are resisting or ignoring the cycles of the earth?

Thousands of years ago, our ancestors lived more in balance with the natural world around them, waking and sleeping in accordance with the sun. Instead of pushing themselves hard in winter, they took more time to rest. They also ate foods in accordance with the seasons, depending on what was available.

On a cold and snowy winter’s morning, there is a beauty and perfection in the stillness of things. However, when we peek into our Western culture, this looks like one of the busiest times of year, with travel, end-of-year deadlines, holiday parties, shopping, wrapping, spending, buying, and dozens of festive celebrations, combined with excessively rich foods, and often more alcohol than normal.

It’s exhausting and taxing on our bodies. No wonder there are more cases of depression, sickness, and suicide during this time of year than any other.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, this is what’s happening to our life-force essence – or jing – during winter:

• Winter affects the kidneys. Just like the energy of a tree goes to its roots in the winter, so too does our life force flow to our kidneys – which the ancestors considered to be the “roots” of our body.
• The kidneys control the reception of chi or qi (physical life force) in the body, along with being the storehouse for jing, or your essence, that determines your constitution; it’s that which makes you  you.
• The loss of jing accelerates aging, so it’s important to preserve your jing during this time. Keeping your kidneys and overall health in balance is the key to preserving jing.
• The primary emotion associated with kidneys is fear and depression, so if you’ve noticed feeling more fearful or worrisome, this may be a sure sign that something is off kilter.

Things that cause imbalance:

• Dehydration, not enough water. Make sure to get 8 glasses of H2O each day!
• Anything in excess, including food, alcohol, drugs, sex, and yes even too much exercise.
• Too much salt.
• Stress, which can be harmful anytime, is particularly damaging during winter, especially if it’s prolonged.

Ways to restore and maintain balance:

• Practice slow, yin yoga.
• Take long, slow-to-medium–paced walks.
• Develop a daily meditation practice.
• Practice Tai Chi or Qiqong.
• Get more sleep than you typically do.
• Eat supportive foods like bone broth and hearty soups; roasted nuts; dark leafy greens including cabbage, celery, asparagus, watercress, wheatgrass, endive, turnips; micro-algae like chlorella and spirulina; whole grains including oats, amaranth, and quinoa; root vegetables like sweet potatoes; cranberries and blueberries; ginger; and dark beans.
• If you feel yin deficient, try using the following essential oils in your bath or a diffuser: rose, geranium, eucalyptus, and ylang-ylang. Or simply smell it right out of the bottle!

Below, we’ve included one of our favorite tai chi meditations from master Steve Barker to help restore your life force energy.

(This was taken from our full-length Energy Healing program.)

So we officially give you permission. Slow down. Reboot. Take time. Listen and feel the flow of the planetary energies around you at this time of year. Nurture your kidneys, boost your jing and reflect on what really matters to you.

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi
Founder, The Sacred Science

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18 Responses

  1. These are simple but sophisticated truths which I needed to be reminded of. Thank you so much.
    I’m also grateful for learning more about the kidneys. Seeing them as the roots of the tree will help me to appreciate and care for them in a more tender way.
    The Sacred Science is indeed a great inspirational source.
    I myself am a bio-dynamic farmer’s wife and meditative healer who loves nature and the archaic realm.

  2. Thank you, I feel very peaceful reading this, but as I live in Australia and it is Summer here I am wondering if the same applies. I would love to see what you have to say about Summer and the other seasons of the year.

  3. Yep. good advice…
    I worked with a TCM practitioner who was Western so was able to express the concepts to my Western-conditioned mind/being, and I got it…
    ‘Yin’ & ;Yang’ however mean something quite different to what the Macrobiotic people’s take on it, where they see ‘yang’ as good, ‘yin’ as bad, etc. It is simplistic, externalised’ concepts, instead of experiencing these 2 labels are in reality, in oneself, life, etc.
    The Chinese do not see it like the above, nor do the modern, western ‘adherents’ get it right for food: e.g. meat, eggs, certainly dairy-products are quite Yin, – yin giving Substance to our being, although red-meat has some yang properties… (I am pescatarian, so I’m not advocating meat-eating…)
    Essentially, ‘Yin’ is the quiet, Cool background, the ‘beingness’ in our life, where Sleep, and eating-in-harmony-with-the-surroundings is so important to nurture the Yin, and the ‘essence’. Whereas Yang’ is the warm, colourful, energetic and noticeable (perhaps changeable) parts of our being and experience. Healthy Yin is ‘Beingness’; and healthy ‘yang’ is ‘Aliveness’. Without Yin, there is no Depth or Substance; without Yang there is no interest or colour.
    However, I do not know too much about how the organ themselves relate to these, -and it is a subtle, learning adventure to grasp it.
    I always think the (Western?) Archetypes ‘puer aeternus’ and the ‘senex’ are good counterparts for ‘yin’ and ‘yang’.

  4. Thank you! Great article! Just a little note, some essential oils are toxic to pets in diffusers. Eucalyptus for one. There are about 5 others…

  5. Thank you for the video! I am going thru recovery from serious bone infection in my left leg & trying to get right leg cartilage repaired
    I haven’t walked since 2012, just wheelchair & partial standing a few times a day. I am going to ask my therapist to help me do these movements. I have been using my Reiki to help with severe pain & a low dose pain med & herbals & ruta graveolus homeopathic. Hope within time Ill be able to complete routine.