Chinese Twenty-Four Season Start of Winter – Li Dong 立冬
In Part One of this article series, we discussed the names and timing of the Chinese twenty-four seasons, Jie Qi节气. If you missed the first part of this article series, please go here (JHealingSystem) to read it. In this article, I am going to talk about how to live well with the season Start of Winter — Li Dong 立冬. This season is from Nov. 7th or 8th to around Nov. 22nd.
Start of Winter — Li Dong 立冬
Let’s first talk about the meaning of this season’s name. Li 立 means the beginning or arrival. Dong means winter. Therefore, Li Dong means the start of winter, specifically the first of the six seasons in winter. That’s right. The ancient Chinese recognized six phases of winter, not just one. At this time of the year, the sun has moved to 225 degrees. In the northern hemisphere, the sunshine time becomes shorter and shorter.
According to Chinese Medicine theory, during Li Dong, the Yang energy (which is warming) moves internally, while the Yin energy (which is cooling) becomes more dominant. The trees and grass lose their leaves, luster, and vibrancy. All living organisms stop being active and prepare for the cold winter months to come. For some animals, this includes hibernating. Human beings do not hibernate, but we do need to preserve our energy. To obtain optimal health, we need to decrease our activity level in this season.
How to Live Properly for Li Dong 立冬
As the sun rises later and sets earlier, people should go to bed earlier and sleep a little longer than in the summertime. This way, we can conserve our Yang energy and fully utilize the Yang energy from the sun to replenish our own.
In this season, because there is a significant temperature change between day and night, we need to dress appropriately, so we do not catch colds. People also need to exercise to increase the immune system but not to overdo it.
In recent years, Chinese people have started swimming as an activity to celebrate the arrival of winter. It is called “Winter Swim.” Swimming in the winter has several benefits.
Winter swimming stimulates respiratory function, thereby preventing colds and flu.
Winter swimming improves circulation, helping to prevent and reduce joint pain and stiffness.
Winter swimming can increase lipase, which reduces cholesterol.
Winter swimming can improve immune function to prevent disease.
Winter swimming can build muscle to enhance endurance.
In modern times, we control the temperature in our living environment. Ideally, our bodies should get used to the outside temperature. Therefore, when the temperature drops in the winter, try to delay turning on the heat inside the house. When we turn on the heat, try to do it minimally, so we give our body the chance to acclimate to the outside environment. Through this process, we strengthen our body’s capability of handling the cold.
How To Eat Properly for Li Dong 立冬
In the old days, when we did not overly control indoor temperature, winter coldness was a concern. People ate warming foods to combat the cold all around them. So, as we incorporate the ancient if you follow the suggestion in the last section by not overly warming up the inside environment, then the following diet suggestions apply.
For cold weather, eat more warming food like lamb, Chinese chives, sesame, sweat rice, dates, pine nuts, walnuts, and chestnuts. In winter, we use heat to keep our homes warm, and there are more windy days, making the air dry. Drink more water and eat foods that are moistening, like pear, kiwi, wood ear, Chinese cabbage. Try not to overeat cold foods such as seafood.
Conditions That May Get Worse During Li Dong 立冬
There is a big difference in temperature between day and night. People who are at risk of Heart disease and stroke need to pay special attention to their health by dressing appropriately and keeping a happy emotional state.
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