Art Of Life Through The Four Seasons

Through observation of the world the early Chinese drew analogies between natural occurrences and processes in the body. They began to articulate a system of medicine based on these observations.

The Huang Di Nei Jing – literally, Huang Di’s Internal Classic, is one of the oldest and most influential Chinese medical texts. Ascribed to the ancient Emperor Huang Di, or the Yellow Emperor, it is probably a compilation by several authors in the first century B.C.E. Much of the development of Chinese medicine, even our practice today, is based on the foundational ideas articulated in this text. The text is based around a question and answer dialog between Huang Di and his chief physician Qi Bo. Below are some functional translations from chapter two on the “Art Of Life Through The Four Seasons.

“Huang Di said, “The three months of the spring season bring about the revitalization of all things in nature. It is the time of birth. This is when heaven and earth are reborn. During this season it is advisable to retire early, arise early also, and go walking in order to absorb the fresh, invigorating energy. Since this is the season in which the universal energy begins anew and rejuvenates, one should attempt to correspond to it directly by being open and unsuppressed, both physically and emotionally.”

”On the physical level it is good to exercise more frequently and wear loose-fitting clothing. This is the time to do stretching exercises to loosen up the tendons and muscles. Emotionally, it is good to develop equanimity. This is because spring is the season of the liver, and indulgence in anger, frustration, depression, sadness, or any excess emotion can injure the liver”.

“Spring is the beginning of things, when the energy should be kept open and fluid; summer opens up further into an exchange or communication between internal and external energies; in the fall it is important to conserve; finally, the winter is dominated by the storage of energy.”

“In the past the sages were able to observe signs and adapt themselves to these natural phenomena so that they were unaffected by exogenous influences, and were able to live long lives. If one does not follow the play of the energies according to the seasons, the liver energy will stagnate, resulting in illness in spring. In summer, the heart energy becomes empty and the yang energy is exhausted. During the autumn there will congestion of the lung energy. In winter the kidney will be drained of jing.”