Retention Part 5: The Seasons
Retention and The Seasons
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“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
A time to plant, a time to reap;
A time to kill, a time to heal;
A time to laugh, a time to weep…
A time to build up, a time to break down;
A time to dance, a time to mourn…
A time you may embrace;
A time to refrain from embracing.”
–Ecclesiastes 3:1-5, adapted by Pete Seger
“Everything in the universe is made of Yin and Yang.
Yang will settle through Yin, and Yin will expand through Yang.
Yin and Yang integrate and move together.
So a man will become aroused and expand his Jade Stalk for a woman,
and woman will become excited and open her Jade Gate for a man.”
– Lady Xuan
Though lacking the instrumentation of modern science, the Taoists did have access to the ultimate Instrument on which all other technologies are built: human consciousness. The likes of Chang Tsu, Lao Tzu, and Confucius brought their considerable powers of attention to bear on the minutia of natural and social phenomena, internal Chi and external Chi (qi). Both the disciplines of Science and the ancient Taoist practices delineated in classics such as the I Ching and the Tao Te Ching evolved through the close and persistent observance of nature and its changes. Certainly, the changing of the seasons is something almost everyone notices, and these cycles play a large role in Taoist doctrine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Retention guidelines, and Taoist Sexology.
In addition to the age and health considerations discussed previously, the nature loving Taoists observed differences in overall sexual vitality according to the seasons. This makes sense as you can see energetic fluctuations in nature and within oneself with the seasons. Winter tends to be cold, dense, contracted, with life in quiescence; and Summer’s essence is hot, expansive, and profusely alive with plant and animal life. One’s Chi tends to “hibernate” to a degree in winter, while conversely having the ability to express itself much more lushly in summer.
Technically, according to Taoism, the Yang or male force should be most strong during the summer. This is called “Yang within Yang” and its element is Fire. It is true that summer seems to be the Domain of Yang at its most mature, however Spring (Yang within Yin) is often when we notice it’s force most strongly. The element of Spring is said to be Wood. Think of the bursting forth of new growth, plants sprouting, thrusting themselves rampantly and eagerly through the warming soil. You get the idea. Good golly Miss Molly, great balls of Chi!
Fall (Yin within Yang, Metal) seems to have a sort of dynamic, yet contented, balance of Yin and Yang leading to the contracted, internal, and often self-reflective “Yin within Yin” of Winter, whose element is Water.
“Early to bed and early to rise,
makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
–Advice for the month of October, Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1735
Our general health is influenced by the time of the year, and our activity should change accordingly to be in harmony with it. For instance, Chinese Medicine prescribes going to bed early and sleeping late in the winter. Not doing so is deleterious to the kidney and sexual energy (chi, jing or ching) . During the Yang of Summer, we can afford to go to bed late and get up early – yup, it’s summer vacation and party time! The seasons of Spring and Autumn are advantageous for going to bed early and awakening early. If you pay a little attention, you will see, and more importantly feel, how appropriate these habits are.
Based on this, one can see how a man’s sexual energy is most vigorous, at times even bordering on profligate, in the Spring and Summer. This may be the time to risk the hedonic pleasures of extra ejaculation. During the Winter is when he is best advised to be most careful, disciplined, and energetically conservative. Disciplines such as T’ai Chi and Tantric Qigong tend to both augment one’s vital energy and, at the same time, increase one’s sensitivity and ability to be in harmony with the flow of both internal and external Chi. Although this is true sexually for women as well as men as we will discuss later, I have to say that adhering to this principal is most crucial in preserving a man’s health and yang life force in general. This is most likely due to the fact that men will tend to “donate” their yang energy most liberally during sex, whereas a woman tends to be more receptive. These generalizations are less universal in men and women who are trained to generate, retain, circulate, and balance their yin and yang polarities through Taoist and Tantric practices.
“During the cold of winter, a man should preserve his semen and avoid ejaculation altogether.
The Tao of Heaven is to accumulate Yang in winter…
One ejaculation in cold winter is a hundred times more harmful than an ejaculation in the spring.”
Seasonal Guidelines to Ejaculation Frequency
Spring……. 1x every 3 days
Summer… 1x every 15 days
Autumn…..1x every 15 days
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