New Year’s resolutions always seem an odd concept to me. By this time of year, in the dreary darkness of cold midwinter, I feel that my resources are at their lowest. Or rather, my deepest reserves are locked away, inaccessible, silently coalescing in preparation for the birth of spring. It seems entirely counterintuitive that I should be called upon to rocket forward with New Year’s resolutions to get fit, lose weight and eat salad. What I really want to do is curl up on the sofa with a hot water bottle, a good book and the peculiar little noises my home makes when its quiet.
Luckily for me, Chinese medicine is on my side. According to Daoist philosophy (in which Chinese medicine’s ancient roots are firmly embedded), winter is the most Yin of all the seasons. Yin is the opposite of Yang. Yin is the tortoise, Yang is the Hare. Yin is quiet, dark, cold, deep and slow. Yin is what nourishes a baby in the womb. Yin is the greater part of the iceberg under the ocean’s surface. Yin is our own hidden potential. Yin is what we draw on to slowly develop into our full wisdom over a lifetime. Because winter is Yin, now is the time to nourish our Yin. Yin is slow and quiet, so we nourish it through stillness and silence. Like a baby curled and sleeping in the womb, winter is the time to curl up and be still. The good book and hot water bottle are added extras.
By taking in nourishment in the womb, the baby prepares for birth. Similarly, by nourishing our Yin through winter, we prepare for spring. As spring approaches, Yin declines and Yang rises like the sap in the trees. When the trees push out the first of their luminous leaves, I know it is time for me push forward with my New Year’s resolutions. If I have put enough time into my sofa in winter, I know I will have the resources to realise my resolutions in spring.
The gym can wait for March.