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Life Cultivation in the Four Seasons
Time:9/10/2008 10:44:36 AM
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The aim of medicine is to keep health and it is also the m of life cultivation. Though science of life cultivation is closely related to medicine, it is not included in the system of medicine. For instance, qigong is a sort of exercise for life cultivation, but most TCM practitioners are unfamiliar with such a therapy or do not use such a therapy to treat patients. It seems that qigong is a separate system of therapeutics.

Chinese jujube and haw are traditionally used by women after delivery of child for nourishing and activating blood.However most TCM doctors do not know the decoction composed of jujube and haw known as er hong tang (double red decoction). The authentic way to treat women just after delivery of child is to use sheng hua tang (production and transformation decoction), composed of dang gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), chuan xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), tao ren (Semen Persicae) and paojiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Preparata), for activating blood to resolve stagnation.

To cultivate life in the four seasons is an important principle in TCM. In Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor's Canon of Medicine), it says "sages cultivate their life by following the climatic changes in the four seasons and that is why they can avoid attack by pathogenic factors and live a long life." The reason that TCM emphasizes the importance to cultivate life in accordance with the four seasons is that it advocates the theory of maintaining a unity between the heaven and human beings. TCM believes that the natural world is a big universe while the human body is a small universe. In Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor's Canon of  Medicine), it says that the changes of yin and yang in the four seasons are key to the growth of all things. So cultivation of health or life has to abide by the principle of invigorating yang in spring and summer while nourishing yin in autumn and winter.

The following are the quotations from Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor's Canon of Medicine) about how to cultivate life in the four seasons. In the three months of spring, all things on the earth begin to grow. The natural world is resuscitating and all things are flourishing. People may sleep late in the night and get up early in the morning, taking a walk in the courtyard with hair running free to relax the body and enliven the mind. Such a natural resuscitating process should be activated instead of being depressed, promoted instead of being deprived and encouraged instead of being destroyed. This is what adaptation to chun qi (spring-qi) means and this is the principle for cultivation of health. Any violation of this rule may impair the liver and result in cold diseases in summer due to insufficient supply for growth in summer.

The three months of summer is the period of prosperity. The tian qi (heaven- qi) and the di qi (earth-qi) have converged and all things are in blossom. People should sleep late in the night and get up early in the morning, avoiding any detestation with longer hot daytime and anxiety in life, trying to delight themselves and enabling qi to flow smoothly. Such an attitude toward life in summer is just like the outward manifestation of a cheerful state of mind. This is what adaptation to xia qi (summer-qi) means and this is the principle for yang sheng (cultivation of health). Violation of this rule may impair the heart and result in jie nue (malaria) in autumn and severe disease in winter due to insufficient supply for astringency in autumn.

The three months of autumn is the season of ripening. In autumn it is cool, the wind blows fast and the atmosphere appears clear. People should sleep early in the night and get up early in the morning just like hens and roosters. They should keep their mind in peace to alleviate the soughing effect of autumn, moderating mental activity to balance qiu qi (autumn-qi) and preventing outward manifestation of sentiments to harmonize fei qi (lung-qi). This is what adaptation to qiu qi (autumn-qi) means and this is the principle for yang shou (cultivation of health and regulation of daily life). Any violation of this rule will impair the lung and lead to sun xie (diarrhea with undigested food in it) in winter due to insufficient supply for storage in winter. The three months of winter is the season for storage. The water freezes and the earth cracks. Cares must be taken not to disturb yang. People should sleep early in the night and get up late in the morning when the sun is shining, physically maintaining quiet just like keeping private affairs or as if having obtained what one has desired. They should guard themselves against cold and try to keep warm, avoiding sweating so as to prevent loss of yang qi. This is what adaptation to dong qi (winter-qi) means and this is the principle for yang cang (cultivating health and promoting the storing functions of the body). Any violation will impair shen qi (kidney-qi) and reduce the energy for the following season, lead to wei jue (dysfunction, weakness and coldness of the limbs) in spring due to insufficient supply for growth in spring.

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