Living according to the cycles of nature is a key teaching within Daoism. Studying Yin and Yang and their various gradients. Nature and the seasons are a manifestation of the constant change and fluctuation of Yin and Yang. Winter is the peak of Yin and summer is the peak of Yang. To live in balance with the energies of the environment we need to learn to utilise the particular energy of each season in order to enhance our practice. We also need to learn to increase the polar opposite energy of the season you are currently living in, in order to prevent pathogenic invasion from any extremes of climate. There are several ways to balance out the energy of the environment to prevent many illnesses. Many people do not realise that how well you harmonise with the current season has a strong affect on how your energy levels, mood and health are going to be in the next. The same rule applies to our ageing cycles: men have major physiological and internal changes every 8 years and women every 7 years. How well we live during each 8 or 7-year cycle will, to a degree determine your state of your physical body and mind in the next. With how well you live I mean how well you take care of and develop your emotional, physical and psychological state. Maybe everything in life is about preparing for the next transition in the cycle, the transition stages are where great potential for transformation and change into something greater and new lies. Curiously this may well be the same regarding our lives. As we die we might be carried into another cycle of rebirth. This means that this life is preparing for the next transition. So if we live well, we will be able to make the transition smoother and into a more powerful spiritual state.
Anyway, back to living in harmony with the seasons. Since there is currently some autumn left before the winter starts I decided to look at living with the autumn according to the Huang Di Nei Jing text. The next article will include instructions for living in harmony with the energetic movement of winter.
Living in the 3 months of autumn according to ‘The Yellow Emperor’;
In autumn, nature has reached its full maturity and is not going to grow any more, it has reached a changing point of the growth of Yang, turning to the passive, restful state of Yin. It is the time to go to bed early with the sunset and to wake up with the dawn. The weather becomes harsher and so can the emotional climate as well. In Daoist alchemical paintings the wind is related to our wood energy and the liver. The Liver maintains the free flow of qi and our emotions. In Daoist symbology trees symbolises the physical aspect of our being; Po, the spirit’s relationship and how we interact with the physical world. As the weather becomes harsher the wind affects our emotions and blows in the trees, this will be manifested outwardly as being more prone to low moods or depression in the autumn. The Nei Jing says you should refrain from depressive states in order to make the transition smoothly into winter. As we are moving towards Yin and winter, the energy becomes more still with the contraction of the increasing cold. Therefore it is beneficial to gather the spirit and be more focused. Focusing more will help you gather your spirit and cause your Qi to start to contract. The Qi of the environment contracts as it gets colder and moves closer to the period of winter and Yin. By matching our being with the environment we can live in harmony with it. During the autumn the Qi of every being and plant starts moving into the centre. By keeping our mind focused in the autumn we will also help bring our being and emotions closer to a point of balance. ‘The Yellow Emperor’ continues with explaining that it is also particularly important to not let your desires run wild during this season. When you let your desires run wild you are not keeping your mind still and it will be difficult to stay focused and to have the Spirit gathered.
Every season has a particular quality of Qi and so do your organs. The autumn’s Qi movement of contraction matches the Lungs Qi of contraction. Therefore during this season it is very beneficial to practice your breathing exercises; you want your Lung energy to be full clean and quiet. By practicing your breathing you will also harmonise your qi and your emotions; “making the wind of your emotions blow smoothly in the trees”. Other ways to help keep the Lungs Qi strong are to avoid smoking and avoid giving mental energy to any feelings or memories which cause you grief. If the Lungs are not taken care of in the autumn the ‘Yellow Emperor’ explains that you will have a tendency towards diarrhoea with undigested food in the next season. In winter storing energy is a key point, and if you have diarrhoea, this will become difficult. By taking care of your Lungs you will also prevent Kidney and digestive problems in the next season.
- Refrain from depression, remain calm and peaceful.
- Gather the Spirit, be more focused, do not let desires run wild.
- Retire early with the Sun, also raise with the Sun.
- Do breathing exercises, refrain from smoking and grief.