Taoism and Winter Solstice Tips

by Tai Chi Master Bruce Frantzis

Winter Solstice_Tai Chi Master

Recharge for the Solstice and New Year (photo by: Wolfgang Staudt)

Welcome to my new blog!

I will be posting and writing frequently here on a wide range of topics from tai chi to qigong, taoism and buddhism, meditation, current event and other things that I feel called to share and that I think will be useful for you.

Right now I am in Hawaii on Maui. Life is great and I am happy to be resting from a long year of teaching.

Monday was the winter solstice and the day before had parties on Maui to celebrate the solstice as was the custom in many traditional cultures throughout the world including the TAOISTS of Ancient China, Native Americans and the Hawaiians.

It was from the the celebration of the winter solstice and the Pagans of Europe that the holiday of Christmas originally derived…the most likely birthday of Jesus Christ was not in mid-December but closer to January 6th.

In the common religious practice that the holidays and Gods of the previous religion were essentially transferred into the new dominant religion with only the names slightly or dates slightly changed. To the Taoists the winter solstice had significance which had parallels to many of the ancient religious traditions of this planet.

A Time for Regeneration

Firstly the solstice is the natural time within the cycles of life, for death the energy of death to appear so all that has run its course can summerge, die, and rest so from the foundations of death new, fresh life and vibrant life can be reborn and emerge in the spring.

Winter solstice is also a time to be genuinely grateful for all that has transpired the previous year as well as a time to let go off all that has been used up ( like the remains of what has been harvested from the crops in the fall) including the sorrows and missed opportunities of the past year.

Solstice begins the time of the winter when the most important elemental quality of that season is to do the best you can to rest and regenerate. As the winter is the season of the water element, any practices you can do to build up your kidneys will improve your life in the next season of wood which is dominated by the liver.

Winter is the time to let go of fear and is the natural time of the year to find acceptance for the changes in your life rather than being consumed by the fears of what will go wrong.

Physically besides foods and herbs which tonify and make the kidney stronger, the qigong (chi gung) that I and my energy arts instructors teach which most balances the body’s water element energies is the qigong set ‘Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body‘. Especially its components of standing, sinking chi, outer dissolving and cloud hands.

In terms of meditation and letting go of the past and going beyond fear the Taoist Meditation methods of Inner Dissolving are most useful both are taught both in book form and a 6part CD workbook like format under the title of ‘Tao of Letting Go’.

Last but not least do your best to rest and sleep as must as you can until the spring arrives to enable your body to best take advantage of the natural rest and regeneration qualities of the winter.

As conversely if you do not, it makes its difficult for your body in the Springtime to bounce back into full activity and potentially weakens you for the entire next year.

Thanks for all those who are on my list and especially those of you who have bought products and come to my events.

Have a wonderful solstice season and build up those kidney’s as best as you can.

Bruce

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Exercice saisonnier : respirer avec vos Reins | Lumière du Tao
November 19, 2010 at 2:26 am

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Huette January 5, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I really appreciate this post and the sharing of information on what are the best Energy Arts chi gung and meditation practices to fortify the kidneys. I have recently read the Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen translation by Veith. I find the information intriguing though very difficult to engage with on a practical level. Which is precisely why I appreciate your teachings and explanations so much. They are practical and clear. Thank you!

I am interested in any suggestions you might have on herbs and foods that tonify the kidneys.

[Reply]

Taichi Master Bruce Frantzis Reply:

I am not an herbalist, and as such I prefer to comment on subjects which I have genuine expertise in. I defer to others who have a greater level of knowledge in that field.

[Reply]

Peter Wolf January 7, 2010 at 5:10 am

I think I wrote the first review of Mr. Frantzis` book “Opening the Energy Gates of your Body” in German translation back in 2001. After this, I reviewed all German publications from Windpferd Verlag on our website http://www.glist.de .

“Tiger and Dragon”, most of the “Energy Gates” and other Qigong, TaiChi and Yoga practices are a part of my daily exercises. Its very helpful against Asthma and Allergies, also for focussing and stress release. I usually have a second set in the afternoon and it works until the early evening.

Brunce Frantzis` books are extremely helpful and I am happy, that he now issued a blog, which I will visit on a regular base.

Best regards from Germany and keep on the good work

Peter Wolf

[Reply]

Merlin Matthews January 7, 2010 at 7:29 am

Walnuts are good for kidney tonification, and pigeon, if you eat meat

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kirk January 7, 2010 at 8:04 am

Great site,does winter end on the chinese new year as they class this as the start of spring.

[Reply]

Taichi Master Bruce Frantzis Reply:

There are varying opinions on this.

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David Burch January 7, 2010 at 8:12 am

I’ve heard that boiled, black sesame seeds tonify the kidneys as well as roasted flax and pumpkin seeds. From the western side of things, I’ve also heard cucumbers, celery, and asparagus help the kidneys. Bruce, I’d be interested in your input on which foods help out the kidneys this time of year.

[Reply]

Olivié Wolf January 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I would like to know about An Mo/Tui Na (Chinese self massage) techniques or points you recommend for the particular seasons.

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Michelle January 7, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I’m so glad that you’ve created a blog Bruce! Reading books are great, but as I discovered listening to your lecture “Tao of Letting Go” one gets a sense of how you may be in person in one of your workshops. For some us who have not had the pleasure of attending yet, it’s a delightful treat. I would also like to mention that it has truly been a pleasure to practice with and be instructed by one of yours, Richard Shapiro in Az. An awesome individual in his own right but also makes sure to include unique “Bruce-isims” in class. Enjoy regenerating and keep up the fantastic work!

[Reply]

Michelle January 7, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Oh, by the way. I to would enjoy seeing a workshop at one point on Tuina’s
therapeutic application from Taoist perspective.

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kirk January 8, 2010 at 4:14 am

Is it o.k to do a 7day pure water fast in winter,due to the heavy load on the kidneys from the toxins released bt the body?

[Reply]

Taichi Master Bruce Frantzis Reply:

You can do a fast any time you want, as a general rule, it wouldn’t be a great idea unless you were in a very warm climate. Again, although I’ve done 30 day water fasts personally, I think you should ask better people’s opinions on this. One person who’s very well known in the field, his last name is Sheldon. He is kind of like the Grand daddy of all the fasting stuff. A seven day water fast if you don’t have the right constitution can be a problem.

[Reply]

Hans Braumüller January 9, 2010 at 7:11 am

Hi,

thanks for open your knowlegde.
I am reading your book Opening the Energy Gates of your Body in German and like your profound insights. I have not still practice in concrete your exercises, because i am doing similar qi qong from other ramifications of the same origin. I am asking me if your dvd video about ” Opening the Energy Gates of your Body” can help me to experimentate your exercises?

Maybe it is better to wait that you teach in Germany. Have you a course about the excercises “Opening the Energy Gates of your Body” ?
Also i would like know more about your views of Zhan Zhuang? Zhan Zhuang are not one of main exercises, but i feel very much, when i do the variations i know. In your book i found a basic form of Zhan Zhuang.

I started Qi Qong since i start round about 1994 with traditional chen style tai chi chuan in the tradition of Chen Xiaowang. In Hamburg is Jan Silberstorff, a master disciple from him. But after three years i stopped tai chi chuan, focusing at qi qong, since 8 years daily.

[Reply]

Bob Hughes January 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm

During the winter season I use the “Five Animal Sports Qigong” for warm-ups.

The animal for Winter is the Deer.
It focuses on massaging the Kidneys. The Deer: 1. Rising; 2. Stretching; 3. Running; 4.Ramming; 5. Entwining.

Grade-school kids love the Five Animal exercises (especially the Monkey).

[Reply]

Tom Westbrook July 4, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Herbert Shelton is the man that Bruce is talking about with regards to fasting. One great book on fasting and detoxing that has loads of references for further reading is “The Tao of Detox” by Daniel Reid, highly recommended if you’re interested in doing a fast and the things you should take into consideration.

Paul Pitchford’s “Healing with Whole Foods” also gives a load of useful information on how to heal the body and follow the seasons using food and herbs, with a Chinese medicine take on it all. There are hundreds of healthy vegan recipes at the back of the book for those who want to take control of their diets and cook up meals that essentially heal the mind, body and spirit. He also has a section on various fasts that can be done.

Hans – look up Bruce’s qualified instructors on his website – there may be one near you that teaches the Opening the Energy Gates Chi Gung.

[Reply]

Ray Pawlett December 5, 2011 at 9:24 am

Hi,
I like the article. I frequently have the discussion with my students that the winter time is a time for looking deep inside oneself to become aligned with the core rather than making huge life changes.
For this reason I advise meditation about change rather than change itself when they ask about New Year resolutions.

Have you come accross the idea of “Doyo”. It is from the Japanese tradition. the Water Energy of Winter gives way for nine days on either side of the solstice to Earth Energy for the Doyo period. This is their explanation why the New Year and the last part of the year feel a bit different.

I liken it to a hibernating animal that awakens briefly to stock up on carbohydrates before continuing with the hibernation

Kind Regards
Ray

[Reply]

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