Nourishing the Self in Wintertime

By Dr. Anna Gold

We are meant to live according to the seasons. In the wintertime, as sunlight recedes, little by little, day by day, we inch towards winter solstice with a longing to turn inward. The demands of modern lives keep us from slowing down, but we must take the time to honor this instinct. If we purposefully set our intentions to live in harmony with the pace each season offers, our bodies benefit through health, joy and longevity. Take time off. Meditate. Take slow walks and partake in activities that ground you - read, journal, take a warm bath, laugh, share meals with loved ones. 

East Asian medicine is based on observing and learning from Nature. Winter is the Yin within Yin. It is a time when our bodies slow down and the pulses deepen. The organs associated with winter are Kidney and Bladder, the Yin / Yang pair that store "Jing" or "essence', the primordial energy like our pilot light with which we were born. Once a year, during the winter season, we partake in metaphorical (and physical) hibernation, like the storing of seeds, so that when the time comes, when daylight extends, we can use this reserve to energize when Nature reawakens in Spring. Heading toward the nadir of Darkness is the only way to turn back to the Light. 

In wintertime, when the weather turns cold, we take stock of the year, appreciate our accomplishments, and enjoy the fruits of the harvest. In Winter, life is dormant. Transformation happens in dormancy and so it is time to let go of ways which no longer serve our True Selves. We honor the season by gathering those we love, celebrating precious time and honoring our connection to one another. 

Ways to feed your body and soul in winter:

  • During cold season, soups and broths warm the hearth, the torso, of the body. The torso contains vital organs that convert food into energy and pumps nutrients from the center to the peripheral. Include nutrient dense foods like lamb, beef, beans, lentils.
  • Cook with warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, and garlic.
  • Drink broths and teas to warm the digestion and keep your center nourished. 
  • Cover your toes, keep your your heart and neck cozy so that the warmth from the center radiates to the rest of your body.
  • Let go of grudges and practice forgiveness, for others and yourselves. 
  • Protect your immune system by prioritizing sleep.
  • Reduce stress, as prolonged tension only damages the self. 

These are practices to incorporate as we round out the end of the year so that we can get ready for the coming new year. Happy Winter!