Winterize Yourself!

Winterize Yourself!

From December until February the days are shortest and coldest of the year and there is a serious shortage of the Solar Principle or Heavenly Chi. Most people run on “autopilot” in terms of energy production, passively and unconsciously absorbing and converting the chi around them. This time of year, with less Heavenly Chi interacting with the Earthly Chi, there is a reduction in, or sluggishness of, our life force. It is time to seriously intervene to “winterize” ourselves

The challenges we face during winter are not solely a result of the cold temperatures, though that is part of it. Much is a result of the reduced hours and intensity of sunlight. I can envision a time in the not too distant future when winter temperatures have globally warmed, yet many symptoms of the winter doldrums persist. You might have experienced a hint of this principle if you have taken a winter trip to a subtropical climate north of the equator (this applies to the Southern Hemisphere also during their winter). Though it is warmer, there is still a deficit in sunlight and under these conditions, travelers can still become tired or even ill. Warmth alone is not the full answer here, otherwise everyone with central heating would be impervious to these winter blues.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is an example of one of the conditions that has a link to reduced sunlight and the concomitant reduction in stimulation of the pineal gland (third eye). The reduced duration and intensity of natural light in winter affects many people strongly, resulting in lethargy and depression. Mentally we can be unfocused, finding it more difficult to stay on task.

Symptoms can include..

• Excessive Tiredness
• Difficulty Concentrating
• Irritability
• Carbohydrate Cravings
• Weight Gain
• Social Withdrawal
• Depressed Mood
• Decreased Libido

Where the clinical boundary is for the diagnosis of SAD is often not entirely clear. Many people are affected to some degree, though some deal with this much more successfully than others. Dr. Norman Rosenthal estimates the prevalence of SAD among adults in the US varies between 1.4% in Florida and 9.7% in New Hampshire.* See below for information on light boxes to treat SAD.

Beyond the tendency towards being emotionally depressed, our lower reserves of chi can lead us to be easily stressed, which can result in having a “short fuse” or sometimes a strong desire to withdraw into a state of hibernation.

Physically the cold temperatures and the contractive nature of winter’s yin energy can result in stiff, tight muscles, aching or jammed up joints, arthritis, bursitis, etc. We can be more prone to injury due to contracted muscles and connective tissue. This contracted yin state can also result in congested, and thickened mucous membranes, especially noticeable in the nasal passages and lungs, low vitality, reduced sexual vigor, and lowered immunity.

The number of new drugs invented in the past 20 years to treat some of these symptoms is amazing. Taking a drug is easy, though temporary. Self-mastery might require a little discipline. So here are a few suggestions to students of the arts of self-realization for winterizing yourself through your Taoist or Yogic practices. © 2006 Keith E. Hall. All rights reserved.

Part 2: Taoist & Yogic practices.

Instruction & Coaching

* Norman Rosenthal, MD, Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder
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Here are light boxes to treat the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Light box should deliver 10,000 lux of full spectrum light to ward off the effects of the winter doldrums, such as: excessive sleep, social withdrawal, weight-loss and melancholic depression. Proven to be effective in elevating mood, increasing energy and restoring one’s inner body clock.

T’ai Chi and Physical and Mental Health

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