Monthly Archives: December 2019

The Role of Winter in Chinese Medicine

As we head away from Fall and into the depths of Winter, I find it helpful to consider the natural rhythms of the seasons. In Fall, we look back at all we’ve accomplished throughout the year. We should be savoring the harvest of well-earned achievements, storing away the precious lessons learned, and leaving the vines of old spent ideas as compost for spring soil. Once all of that is sorted, preserved and put up, we say goodbye to one year and prepare for the next. Holidays and celebrations serve to remind us about what is important to us. They fortify us with light and love during a dark, cold season marked by letting go.

After the celebrations, there is space for us to pull inward, rest and restore our energy for next spring. This fallow period may look quiet or still, but beneath the surface, there is magic happening. Under the surface, as we sleep or sip tea or even relax with friends…there is a quiet new energy being formed and nourished. All of the experience of the past is being integrated into our potential for the future. This transformative process is crucial for our growth and development. We are forming new growth rings which mark not only the passage of time, but our very evolution.

This rhythm is present in any person’s life, in any project, in any cycle of days, months and years. In each of these there is time for conception, expansion, reflection and return. Even in a single acupuncture session, our bodies can experience this cycle as we lie quietly, allowing the needles to stimulate subconscious changes within us. Each time we come out of the treatment room, we’ve had a journey through input, response, evaluation and recovery. We emerge having shed a little more of what no longer serves us. We leave a bit closer to knowing what comes next.

Rest and renewal may arguably be the most important part of growth.  This is the preparation period, our innate planning time. And there’s nothing specific we have to do. This winter, allow yourself to relax deeply. Do not avoid the discomfort of silent reflection. Allow your mind to wander. Appreciate where you are and what you’ve learned along the way. Be open to where you might be headed, but not attached to any one path. Resist the call to find yourself lacking and consider that things are progressing exactly as they should be. May you and yours be blessed with the virtues of winter this season: patience, serenity and faith.      –Heather McIver, L.Ac.


I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love

For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting,

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing…

TS Eliot, East Coker