Winter Meditation

“The 3 months of winter, this is called closing and storage. Water freezes and the earth cracks, without harassment to the yang. Retire early and arise late. One must seek the light of the sun. Make the will as though it is hidden, as if it is concealed, as if one has everything one needs. . .This is winter qi’s correspondence. It is the Dao of cultivating storage. To go against it injures the kidneys, and in the spring engenderment will be diminished.” (“Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic”)

The art of longevity is an important tradition within Chinese Medicine that calls for paying attention to the seasons and living in harmony with them. In the winter months, this means paying attention to the Dao of cultivating storage. Storage means containing our resources within, as though our desires and hopes are a quiet secret we keep to ourselves. When we properly store in the winter, it strengthens the spring energy of engenderment and growth to be more robust.

In the winter, it’s natural to want to sleep more and be less active. Our tendons and muscles aren’t as limber, so it’s better to practice qi gong and breathing exercises rather than bending, stretching or vigorous exercise.

Winter Meditation: The Inner Smile

Smile, going back to a moment when you felt truly happy and content. Bring that feeling up into your whole body and then use this same smile to smile at yourself. You can choose an area that is giving you trouble: is it your digestion, your back or your shoulder? It could be used step by step for your entire body from your fingers to your toes, or directed to a specific problem area. Every time your shoulders feel tight, smile at them. Try to smile all day and see how you feel. You can give this smile to others and you will be surprised at how this simple meditation changes your mind and that of those around you.

As often as you can, try to turn artificial lights off. When the sun goes down, put away your phone, turn off your computer, turn off your lights, and sit quietly.