What does it mean to be a "Natural Person"?
A natural person lives in harmony with the cycles of nature. They wake when the sun rises, sleep when the sun goes down, eat seasonally, and dress appropriately. They are aware of their minds and bodies, they are active when it is appropriate, and restful when the body needs to rejuvinate, and repair.
In Chinese Medicine, the human body has 12 primary meridians or channels (rivers) of energy that carry Qi (life force) through out the body. They are named after and connect with particular internal organs. The function of particular organs are affected by the distribution and flow of this energy. Much like the spinning of the earth around the sun, we are not aware of the actual movement beneath our feet, but are aware of the cycle of light and darkness, sunrise and sunset. The natural rhythm of which is associated with waking and sleeping, and daily activities. Similarly, there is a daily advance and retreat of the ocean tides and rivers and according to Taoist Philosophy, a tidal relationship exists in the energy channels of the body. Where a surge of energy is more predominant in an associated meridian that is connected to an organ at a particular time.
With this in mind, many daily activities naturally coincide with the rhythm of energy flow in the body. Certain functions of the body can even be enhanced by engaging in activities that coincide with this natural cycle. While a disruption in the flow of energy can lead to health problems.
For example, eating at the right time, ensures that energy flows properly and the digestive system works at its best. While not sleeping at the right time can dramatically affect the immune system, mind, and overall health.
Based on this flow of energy, the Chinese Medicine Body Clock was developed and can be used to enhance a healthy lifestyle in accordance with the natural rhythms of the body and nature.
Let’s begin with getting a good night’s sleep. In order to get a good night’s sleep where the body is able to clean, repair, and rebuild it is critical a person is in deep sleep from 11 pm to 5am; with 1-3 am being the most important.
11pm – 1am is considered the time of the Earthly Branch 子 "Zi". This is also considered the most yin time of a 24 hour cycle. In other words, ‘Midnight’ opposite to ‘Midday’. The most yin time is the darkest, stillest, and most quiet time of the night. It is easy to see why it is natural to sleep deeply at this time, when the body and mind should be naturally still, and quiet, like the natural world around us. After midnight, Yin has reached it’s peak, and Yang starts to grow. Sufficient yang energy is crucial for people to stay active during the day, and it should be well-stored at the right time. Sleep is the best way to store yang energy and is why it is best to be in deep sleep by 11pm, which means one should try to go to sleep around 10pm.
1am – 3am is 丑 "Chou". During this time the liver is working hard to dispel toxins, and filter blood. If one is not deep asleep at this time, energy that would otherwise be used to detoxify the body is diverted to other active functions. Studies have shown that disrupted sleep for as little as 3 days can reduce immune system function by more than 50%.
3am – 5am is 寅 "Yin". During which, the lung energy is busy distributing blood and energy filtered by the liver to all the other organs of the body.
5am – 7am is 卯 "Mao" time. After the lung channel has finished it’s job of distributing energy and blood to all the organs, it is time to expel the left over waste. In other words, this is a good time to go to the toilet and move the bowel. Drinking water helps to activate the bowel, and more specifically warm/hot water. As we get older we naturally lose Yang qi over time making us less active with a slower metabolism, and often a feeling of cold deep in the body. Therefore, warm liquids and food are very important for the elderly. It is also important that people dress warm at this time wearing appropriate clothing to guard against pathogenic invasion.
This is the ideal time for meditation. Another great routine during this time is to sit next to a window in the light, drink a cup of warm water rather than tea or coffee and comb the hair and head repeatedly. This helps dispel pathogenic energies in the body and clear the eyesight and the mind. Since this is a great time to expel the waste from the body, it is also an especially good time to bathe and shower.
STARTING THE DAY:
7am – 9am is 辰 "Chen" time. Strong stomach energy is required to feel energized and vigorous. This is a great time for some light morning exercise, which loosens up all the muscles, ligaments, and joints, and gets the energy and blood circulating. QiGong, walking, calisthenics, yoga, dancing, swimming, are all great ways to start the day.
It is also the best time for breakfast since the stomach channel is active. It is best to eat warm foods, such as porridge, or a hot breakfast, that is easy on the stomach and readily digestible and nutritious. Enjoy your breakfast, and take your time. In Taoist Medicine, it is advisable to take a little walk and rub your belly to aid digestion after your meal.
AN ACTIVE BODY AND ACTIVE MIND:
9am – 11am is 巳 "Si" time. With sufficient yang energy from food, the spleen then turns the nutrition into energy and leaves no extra fat to accumulate (if one doesn't overeat at breakfast). During this time blood and energy flow to the spleen meridian to support metabolism, and conversion of nutrients into blood and energy and send them to muscles. These two hours are prime time for using muscles and working, the energy and blood distributed by the spleen will support all of your activity.
11am – 1pm is 午 "Wu" time. A balanced, nutritious lunch is important. It should be warm and filling and should not contain many raw or hard to digest foods. Lunch shouldn't be too big. Take a slow walk after lunch and rub the stomach to help digestion.
This time of day is when Yang energy has reached it’s peak. The sun has reached its zenith and will start to descend. The heart rules the mind, and at this time the Yang Qi of the body and consciousness is full. Drinking a little tea and taking a half hour's nap or meditation is highly recommended at this time. Rigorous exercise should be avoided as it is hard on the heart.
1pm - 3pm is 未 "Wei" time. After lunch and a nap (no more than an hour), it is time for more activity, as the small intestine works to separate and distribute digested nutrients.
3pm – 5pm is 申 "Shen" time. These are prime hours of the day for exercising the mind and body. The bladder channels run along the spine from the brain to the head and the feet.
Since energy and blood flow actively into the brain during this time, it is a good time for chess, card games, work, and study. Drinking afternoon tea is advised. The bladder meridian also is a major toxin-expelling channel and handles toxins dispelled by the other channels. Drinking extra water promotes detoxification as toxins are passed through the urine.
5pm - 7pm is 酉 "You" time. The kidneys are the storehouse for longevity. In Chinese Medicine the kidneys rule maturation, development, bones, teeth, memory, and the Central Nervous System. At this time the kidneys start to store "essence" and is the best time for doing longevity exercises like Qigong, or Tai Chi. It's also time for a light dinner. A little wine is ok to activate blood circulation, but don't get drunk.
PAMPERING AND SOCIALIZING:
7pm - 9pm is 戌 "Xu" time. The pericardium is the fluid-filled sac that surrounds the heart and the roots of the major blood vessels. It contains channels of blood and energy. This is a time for enjoyment, socializing, rest and relaxation, which dispels all the pathogenic energy around the heart, protecting it and balancing the emotions.
At this time it's advised to soak the feet in hot water, which can help dispel pathogenic heat and damp and activate the blood. A bit of television, or reading, can be good at this time but too much can injure the eyes.
This is a time for rest, relaxation and enjoyment. Too much mental activity at this time can cause strain on the heart and the kidneys resulting in heart-kidney imbalance. Foot Massage can also be very good to help nourish kidney energy.
The time of 戌 "Xu" is ideal for social interactions. A sense of community has been found to be an extremely important factor in longevity. There are several places in the world where a larger percentage of centenarians (people 100 years old or more) exist. Researchers have found these groups typically have many close friends, with whom they share everything. It gives them a sense of belonging, and purpose. This seems to even outweigh genetics and diet.
9pm-11pm is 亥 "Hai" time. After spending time dining and talking with family and friends, one tends to be in a good mood, so traditionally this is the time to nourish the body with joy. This is a great time for meditation before bed.
Traditionally this is considered the best time for having sex, as it nourishes the body with joy and love. It eases the mind and also leaves enough time for a sound sleep and rest for the next day.
Being a "Natural Person" is not just healthy, but it is easy and enjoyable. Most of us experience this every time we go camping. You many notice how your body clock automatically resets to the seasonal rythms, giving you a feeling of rejuvination and relaxation.
I hope this helps you maintain a "natural" lifestyle in the increasingly technological, and "unnatural" modern world.
RJ Singer - Taoist Acupuncture
91 Erskineville Rd. Erskineville Monday & Wednesday 10am - 6pm
2/34 Melrose Parade, Clovelly Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10 am - 6pm