Health Preservation & Appropriate Lifestyle for the Year 2000
A new millennium is coming. People are seeking better ways to maintain their health. 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 healthy:
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. Now, in the fall, everything is quiet and cool; yang-qi is weakening and yin-yi 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.
Foods are the fundamental conditions on which we depend for existence and health. Irregular eating, poor diet, or addictions to specific foods will bring harmful effects to the functions of digestion and absorption, thus 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 taking food when in any kind of extreme emotional state.
- Have a moderate amount of food for each meal, avoid 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 clear 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.
These are four methods to follow during Normal Daily Life:
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 qi.
Live in peaceful, secluded surroundings
with fresh air, plenty of sunshine, excellent ventilation, moderate humidity with no pollution or noise. A house is required to face the south with the bedrooms on the east. Hence, the balance of yin and yang and of light and shade.
Keep regular hours
A day’s time should be reasonably allocated to labor or work, sports, recreational activities, meals, rest and sleep. Generally, we should get up around 6 o’clock, breakfast at 7, and get plenty of fluid and nutrients. Lunch at noon, eat until you’re almost full, and dinner at 6, eat until you’re 70% full. Go to bed around 10 and get 8 hours of sleep. Get 2-3 hours of exercise a week.
Wear the appropriate amount of comfortable clothing, in accordance with climactic changes. We should keep ourselves warm in spring, and dress so as to feel a bit cool in autumn.
These ideas presented are a brief introduction to methods of health maintenance and appropriate lifestyle according to TCM. In one sentence, the key to well-being is living in harmony with the universe.