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Yin Time

Published: Dec. 18, 2020


Winter is a great time to meditate, or if you don’t like that word, you can just be quiet for a bit. 

Let’s shine up our kidneys this winter with support and self-care for our life force.

I once had a sad roommate. In the winter, there was no fire in the fireplace. As in, there was no wood to build it, or actually there was, but there was a hesitancy to use it. And so the house sat, dark and cold all winter. This was one of my greatest teachings on how to not care for the life force in winter.

There was a deprivation of life force in this way of withholding energy, of not replenishing or nurturing a practical resource for life.

During wintertime, we can tend to our inner light, our inner fire, our spark. It is not the time to jump around and use it up, rather it is the time to care for it, see it, keep it going.

In traditional Chinese medicine theory, we are given a package of life force, of essence when we pop into being. Some get a lot, others a bit less. As we move through life, we have the choice to support and add to our allotment, or burn through it quickly. Of course, some don’t have as much choice due to various circumstances. For example, if you live in a place where you are getting shot at our chased, you have no choice but to use up all the life force available.

The element of winter is water. We can physically and metaphorically wash away life debris in this season as a pause, reset before spring. We can imagine water washing away pollution: mind, body, spirit, toxins being pushed through our own life streams and rivers. It’s a good season to cleanse ourselves from negative influences. We need to let it run downstream to become diluted, to evaporate.

It’s a time to build up clarity and wisdom and drain energy sucking fear habits.

The kidneys represent our life force so we rest into winter, we relax into our strength, we give thanks to our essence, our will to live.

It’s a season for long dark nights. Try to sleep longer and absorb the quiet strength.

We are seeds, underneath the light, where the germination happens.

Our inner light, our essence, is like a pilot light. We need to remember to keep it lit so it can animate our will or vision even when it is difficult to see.

If we can’t cultivate wisdom and clarity, fear can take over and consume us. To counter this, sit with as much neutral truth as you can. Drop the self-harm through repeated self-critical thoughts. Cull out the stories that keep you from following through with your vision. Keep reserves level and up to where you need them to keep the life force flowing.

Soak in warm water, make soups, build fires, put lights up. Be in the darkness with enough light to light your way.

Memory is tied to kidneys. During this winter, remember who you are. What is your essence? What is important to you? Does your life reflect your essential self?

There is an acupuncture point in the lower back named Mingmen, which means Life Gate or Gate of Power.

This is the time to replenish, remember, respect, give thanks for our life. 


from Mary Ann Petersen, Eugene Friends Meeting (12/18/2020)