“To live in unity with nature” is a commonplace which elicits a certain range of associations. For example, buying clothes or furniture made of natural materials only. Or inclusion of farm products into ration and products from own garden would be better. Or sort of making a curtsey to forests, fields and rivers, generally being appropriate scenery for picnics and entertainment. But if we divert our attention from material daily routine which makes the same concept of nature primitive and prosaic, then our view will be turned somewhere further, beyond the horizon, it will embrace beauty of the many-sided world around. Or it may immerse inside, into own soul, to search there for response to great cosmic processes. The entire living world around us from the smallest germ to the living planet Earth is an integral, complex system penetrated with united quantum strings which are in harmonious dynamic balance. And could we really see ourselves as something separate, “alien”, dividing our breath from breath of the entire living world on our planet?”
Great ancient thinkers knew this. They always tried to carry out their spiritual practices qi gong, contemplation of the world around in the wilderness, in beautiful spirited places away from people’s fuss. This enabled them to vanish in surrounding magnificence, to enter into resonance with elements of power, to resonate with their spiritual impulses. Would we like it or not, but we are inseparably tied with nature both spiritually and physically. Cyclic change of seasons, day and night are in the picture of internal cycles of humans. As any living creature on our planet, a human organism has to tune its physiological processes uninterruptedly with a wave of external changes of the surrounding medium in order to keep steady metabolism and not to get sick. No matter how we try to fence ourselves off changeable climate with increasingly comfortable life conditions and functional clothes, we have to interact with nature in any way. Even more, communication with nature is necessary for us to support our life and health. And it is an undeniable truth.
In accordance with postulates of Chinese medicine, connections with ambient environment in an organism are governed by meridians and collaterals (their skin-muscular part) first of all, and so called “windows” of internal organs, in other words eyes, ears, nose. They respond to ambient conditions in the first instance, give a signal to an organism identifying if one or another influence is positive or negative. Structures of meridians and collaterals form so called “barriers” on the way of external pathogenic plagues, climatic factors and infections in order to protect internal environment from invasion and damage. It is known that in Chinese medicine there are whole conceptions about such barriers and the way they work in.
Naturally, meridians of an organism, its surface structures have their functional basis, their “qi”. And this function shall train permanently. In other words, normally during a day-to-day life a person should a little bit feel cold, heat, wind, wetness, as well as physical fatigue. Otherwise, meridians become weak, their functional basis gets decreased and susceptibleness to diseases gets higher.
Proper daily physical load, such as household activity, staying in the open air with various nature environments – in a forest, beside of water, in open spaces – is highly favourable for health maintenance and strengthening body defenses. Therefore, protective qi of meridians, which plays an important role in resistance to various diseases and not only cold-related, trains and gets stronger.
Moreover, there is a backward linkage between internal organs and their so called “windows”. Under Chinese medicine theory, eyes are liver’s window in an organism; ears are kidneys’ window, and so on. And if liver and kidney are diseased and in weak state, then vision and hearing worsen. But there is a backward linkage! If a person does not contemplate beautiful views of nature, the sky and earth, trees and flowers with his eyes, does not hear birds singing, noise of the water and the wind with his ears, does not feel a breath of wind and warmth of the sun with his skin, such person foredooms his liver, kidneys and lungs (within the Chinese meaning) to inevitable weakening.
Now let’s touch upon seasonal changes. In the wake of change of seasons an organism reorganizes gradually its protective barriers as well. In summer, yang and qi “float” at the surface, in other words skin pores work actively cooling an organism and prevent internal organs from overheating. Environmental temperature is comfortable, so an organism, so to speak, takes the liberty to relax and does not waste energy to combat cold. As a cold season sets in, yang and qi from the surface gradually concentrate within a body to save warmth and to heat internal organs. This is a figured comparison which reflects, inter alia, redistribution of blood and micronutritients responsible for immune reactions. The process is slow; it continues during the entire autumn and becomes stabile as a winter comes. December and January are rather favourable for the majority of internal organs. First of all, nature itself has stabilized after autumnal changes. Secondly, a human organism has completely been readjusted into a winter mode as well. Stock of power saved during summer and the beginning of autumn has not been exhausted and the first snow delights the eye with fresh diversity. But capacity of life is not infinite!
In regions with very cold climate and long winter, in accordance with ideas of TCM, yang of kidneys and spleen is exposed to extreme stresses. Therefore, saving warmth is a top-priority task of vital importance. There is one more organ especially vulnerable during this period. This is lungs. They are the first to be under attack of infections, especially influenza, which catch us every year, especially upon sudden warming of climate with temperature fluctuating about zero. On the other hand, lungs can be struck with dryness, for example, if heating in a house is active and the air is dry, and cold has managed to dry, to freeze out the moist. This is why it is so important to maintain air humidity indoors. And if epidemics of ARVI or influenza are developing, in no circumstances so called “BU YAO” – bu xue, bu qi, bu yin, will be taken. Pathogenic microorganisms assimilate these “tasty” and “useful” substances much faster, attack an organism actively and a virus infection progresses much more acutely.
However, the end of winter – the beginning of spring is a real trial for an organism. Competent vitamin fortification and qualitative nutrition are necessary to keep health. During this period it is better to avoid overfatigue, traveling with dramatic changes of climate, especially toward cold. Under Chinese medicine theory, during this period fire begins to accumulate in an organism due to yang immersion to the deep for the period of winter. This process reaches the maximum by the beginning of spring when everything that has life is ready for a burst of vitality. But there are own dangers in accumulation of fire. Aggravation of chronic inflammatory diseases, purulent processes, sicknesses related to blood heat syndrome are usual for this period especially in the age of 45, when yang dominates yin. Thus, from the beginning of the middle of February, physicians of Chinese medicine recommend taking special plants – forsythia, honeysuckle, cane stems, chrysanthemum (lianqiao, jinyinhua, lugen, juhua) to pacify “excessive” fire and to get ready for spring.