Winter Cultivation



The season of winter is connected with the element water, the color blue black or black, and the organs kidneys and bladder. It is also called the time of year of “Returning to the Root.”

The kidneys are associated with the positive emotional state of will or what used to be called “backbone.” The negative emotional state is fear, especially unfounded fear such as panic attacks or night sweats. A weakness in the kidneys can also cause this problem so it is especially important to take care of our kidney energy this time of year.

The kidneys are said to be the repository of our jing or energetic essence as well as our sexual energy. This is why it is important more men to be a little more restrained about ejaculation this time of year (see chapter     ).

It is also, unless we live in southern climates, a cold time of year so it is important to keep ourselves warm by paying attention to what we wear outside. Warming foods such as hot soup and cooked foods  are also important.

Winter, the season of quiet contemplation, is an excellent time to strengthen our meditation practice. By being still, by being quiet, by closing down the outside influences in our lives, we can open doors to vast inner worlds. It is in this serene and tranquil mind that we can discover Dao, our source as well as our destination.

The ancient Daoist sages described the body as the storehouse of our inner nature. They taught that we must take care of the body in order for us to have a place for our spirit to dwell. It is important not to neglect our stillness practice if we are to fully enjoy the benefits of our movement practice. Like yin and yang, both movement and stillness are important to our overall cultivation.

Daoists believe that it is important to keep a balance between movement and stillness. Too much movement will exhaust one’s qi, while excessive sitting will cause stagnation in the body. The key here is to not abandon one for the other and to experiment and see what is the proper balance for your own cultivation.

Like yin within yang, or stillness within movement, that place of serene stillness within our movement gives birth to that subtle and mysterious movement within the stillness of our meditation. That movement brings us into greater harmony, greater awareness, and greater experience of the eternal and ever-evolving Dao.

In many traditional societies winter is the time to stay close to the fire, sharing food and stories with families and friends during the long, cold, days of winter.