By Xiaomei Cai
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the key to health preservation is
living in harmony with nature. The following are four methods that can keep you
Cultivation of Mind
Cultivation of mind is a method of keeping physically and mentally healthy by
regulating the spirit, consciousness, and thinking. We need to cultivate mental
faculties so as to have a cheerful state of mind and control emotions in
conformity with changes in the seasons. In the fall, everything is quiet and
cool; yang-qi is weakening and yin-qi is growing stronger. We should restrain
ourselves in mental and emotional activities so as to keep the spirit in peace
and reservation. In the winter, everything on earth goes into hiding. In
compliance with this hiding, we should avoid depleting the spirit with
emotionless sexual activity. In the spring, when yang-qi ascends and everything
comes to life, we should stay relaxed and pleasant. During the summer, yang-qi
is in abundance, and everything is flourishing and beginning to bear fruit or go
to seed. Accordingly, we should keep ourselves in a cheerful, vigorous frame of
mind as well as discharge excessive yang-qi.
We depend on food for existence and health. Irregular eating, poor diet or food
addictions will harm your digestion and absorption, resulting in disease. To
regulate the diet, we should:
- Balance the five flavors: sour, bitter, sweet, acid and salty. Alternate foods
in a pattern to acquire complete nutrition.
- Live on a mainly vegetarian diet of light, simple foods.
- Eat three meals a day at fixed times: breakfast at about 7 A.M., lunch around
12 noon and supper at 6 P.M.
- Avoid eating when in any kind of extreme emotional state.
- Eat moderately at each meal, avoiding overeating or starving oneself.
- Regulate the diet with the seasons, as follows:
Eat more sweet food than sour to nourish the spleen qi. Eat foods that are light
and easy to digest.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, like watermelon, tomato, cucumber, celery.
Make Mung bean soup to blear away excess heat.
Have more juicy and slightly richer foods like pears, orange, apple. Make
thicker vegetable or mung bean soup with a little meat.
This is the time to eat food that is solid, substantial, warming, like root
vegetables and nuts.
Proper Balance Between Work and Rest
Normal work and sports activities are beneficial to the flow of qi and
circulation of blood, and heighten the body's capacity to resist disease. Proper
rest can relieve the weariness of the body and mind and restore physical
strength and mental power. Avoid physical strain through protracted exertion,
over-exertion, or exertion when hungry or full. Also avoid mental overexertion;
as soon as concentration becomes difficult during reading or writing, it is high
time to take a rest.
Temperance in sexual activities is also important. Overindulgence damages health
and shortens life span. Avoid sex when:
- You are very hungry or too full.
- It is very cold or very hot.
- Emotions are in excess or out of control
- You are ill, or feeling frail or deficient.
- Body or mind are exhausted.
- You've had too much alcohol to drink.
Conform to Nature
In the spring, rise early to stroll in the courtyard, and go to bed late to
respond to the active force of the season. In summer, when everything is growing
luxuriantly, we should still rise early and retire late to get the appropriate
amount of sunshine to respond to the growth qi of the season. In autumn, fruits
are ripe to be harvested, we rise later to respond to the season's shrinkage qi.
In winter, ying-qi is in excess, and we should carefully avoid wind and cold by
going to bed early and rising when the sun rises so as to respond to the storage
Live in peaceful, secluded surroundings
Fresh air, plenty of sunshine, excellent ventilation, moderate humidity with no
pollution or noise – these qualities make your living space habitable. Houses
should face the south with the bedrooms on the east to balance yin and yang and
light and shade.
Keep regular hours
You should reasonably allocate your time to labor or work, sports, recreational
activities, meals, rest and sleep. Generally, we should get up around 6 A.M.,
breakfast at 7 and consume plenty of fluid and nutrients. Eat lunch at noon,
eating until you're almost full, and then have dinner at 6:00 P.M., eating until
you're 70% full. Go to bed around 10 and get 8 hours of sleep. Get two to three
hours of exercise a week.
Wear the appropriate amount of comfortable clothing
Dress according to the weather. We should keep ourselves warm in spring and
dress so as to feel a bit cool in autumn.