Nourishing ourselves in the holiday season
Chinese acupuncture theory recognizes the connection between our bodies and nature. In the winter, our energy must sink deep into our roots to nourish the essence of our “Kidney Chi.” If this is done properly, we are assured good health in the spring, when the “Liver Chi” rises up with the first fresh green leaves of spring.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are the “mother” to the liver. At the same time as the leaves fall from the trees, the energy within our bodies moves deep down into our center, where it gathers nourishment from our food and sends it deep into the “root energy” of the kidney meridian. This deep connection to our root energy sustains us and provides for a long and healthy life.
There are certain foods that help with that connection during this time of year. Walnuts, scallops, black beans, aduki beans and corn are some tonifying foods to eat to nourish the Kidney Chi. Slowly cooked foods – yams, carrots, and other root vegetables – are also strengthening for us to eat at this time of year.
How else can we nourish our center to strengthen our essence during this winter season?
After the Thanksgiving feast, we all begin our journey into the holidays. At what pace do we begin our shopping, and at what level of awareness do we partake of the merriment? There are sane approaches to nourishing ourselves in the weeks ahead.
Traditional Chinese medicine teaches us that our digestive function, called our “Central Chi,” is governed and generated by how developed our center is. How centered do you feel as you begin to look ahead to the holiday season?
If you feel unbalanced, Acupuncture can help strengthen your center, and improve your digestion and metabolism. This can help prevent weight gain as the season unfolds.
Where is your center? In Acupuncture therapy as well as in some martial arts, there is a point located the breadth of two fingers below the navel. This point is called the Dan T’ien. When you drop your awareness down into your belly, you can begin to develop a sense of your Central Chi.
Imagine yourself at a Christmas party, and imagine that before you eat any food or drink anything, you drop your awareness down into your belly, and take three deep breaths. By bringing awareness down into your abdomen, you have an opportunity to get out of your normal consciousness and deepen your level of awareness. In doing so. you slow down long enough to make intelligent choices about what you eat.
Here are some helpful hints:
— Before going to a party, drink a few glasses of water. This will help hydrate your tissues, help you feel full, and eliminate the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Please call your local acupuncturist and stock up on Curing Pills, a traditional herbal patent medicine for rich foods and hangovers!
— Enjoy lots of helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables. They have few calories and are loaded with nutrients and potent enzymes. Slow down while you eat.
Can you bring awareness to eating? Be aware of yourself reaching for the food, notice yourself holding your fork. Breathe. As you take food into your mouth, notice the sensations and tastes. Breathe. Slow down and become aware of chewing. Experience the tasting of the food, and notice yourself swallowing.
Satisfaction is both a physical experience and a state of mind. “Having enough” is an idea that you can cultivate even without having a belly full of food. Right now you can breathe into your belly and hold the idea that in this moment, now, you have “enough.”
After a big meal it is important to exercise. A brisk 20-minute walk is something most of us can do to increase our metabolic rate, aid digestion, and prevent weight gain.
The real key to getting through the holidays happily is to tune into your own body, mind and spirit. Provide yourself with quiet time daily to recharge your batteries and strengthen your kidney energy.
Be grateful. Be happy. Be well.
Cynthia Yaguda is a licensed acupuncturist with a doctorate degree
in Oriental medicine with a private practice in Grass Valley. Contact her at 272-8935.
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