Organ Clock; Part Two
Ever had a dinner party that turns into philosophical ponderings or a dangerous debate? How about your sleep, do you ever wake at 2am on the dot? - Why is that? In Part two of this Organ Clock blog, we will follow the cycle of energy further into the afternoon and night in order to fully understand how we can adapt our lifestyles to suit our energetic needs. If you have not already read part one please click here.
Small intestine time. Physiologically in TCM the small intestine is responsible for discrimination, distinguishing and choosing the foods appropriate for absorption and excretion. It aids the digestion of lunch. If a poor lunch was had, this is the time one may feel bloated or have indigestion.
This discriminative action is also seen in the mind. It is the time to assimilate the thoughts you gathered over lunch. This is the ideal time for sorting out issues that have been bothering you. Think of the pros and cons; what you will keep and what you will discard.
As both the heart and small intestine are fire organs, they protect against midday heat. However, in very humid or hot climates balance is harder to maintain as the heat becomes too extreme. This is why afternoon siestas are used in south-east Asia to overcome lethargy and protect the body in the midday heat.
This is the time of the bladder. If lunch was too big and your digestion is in turmoil, energy at this time will become low. If however the beginning of the day was lead in balance energy between 3pm and 5pm will resurge making it easy to get through the afternoon.
This is the time of the water element and when we tap into our energetic reserves. The emotion associated with the water element is ‘willpower’ sometimes a certain level of will is also needed to get through the afternoons.
Avoid overwork and stress at this time. It is a time for finishing up loose ends using the last peak of energy in the day. Do you suffer from afternoon headaches? This may be because you have used your inner reserves too early on in the day with nervous tension. Make sure to rise early and perform some gentle exercise to get your body moving, make sure not to overeat at lunch and your bladder will be in harmony.
As this is also the time for digging into our reserves, it is also a good time to take tonifying supplements.
Tip: Try some ‘gancao’ (or licorice root) tea at this time of day as a healthy tonic. Also to aid your adrenal glands get a high dose of vitamin C and snack on an orange.
This is the time of the kidney. Feeling tired at this time? Or is it more a sort of boredom after you return from work and sit on the couch? The kidneys enjoy new things and stimulation of the mind. This is a good time, not to do intense stressful, but to try new things that interest you.
Find a new hobby whether it be gardening, scrapbooking, reading or training your dog. Make sure it is something you enjoy and not a chore to be done after work. Chores and routine jobs are better suited to the morning. Keep the interesting and inspiring jobs for afternoons when you are a little more worn out. At this time insights, creativity and reflexes are sharper and the mind is entertained by new stimulation.
Tip: To strengthen your kidneys at this time of day try a simple exercise from the practice of Qi Gong. Place both hands on your lower back and rub them up and down until you feel warmth in your lumbar area. This promotes circulation to this area and strengthens your kidney energy.
Energy again peaks ready for the evening. This is the time of the fire element, the pericardium. In western medicine the pericardium is the sack that embraces the heart. It represents not just the warmth of the fire element but also the warmth in relationships.
This is a good time to prepare dinner, and most importantly, a time to share with friends and family. Traditionally, times of food are associated with social gatherings. At this time friendliness, communication and enthusiasm is at its high.
The fire element is still in play creating warmth in the atmosphere; however, it is now declining from the pericardium high. This is the time of the ‘triple energiser’.
The triple energiser in Chinese medicine helps circulation through the body, it connects all the bodily organs. By connecting the organs energy it mirrors the summing up of the day. The food from dinner is getting digested and the body should be calm. After dinner, excess qi and nutrients will be stored preparing for the nights rest and regeneration.
Tip: Get to bed by 10pm so your yin energies can begin to rebuild and prepare for the advancing day.
Time of the Gallbladder. Ideally one should be in bed and asleep by 10pm. However, if the fire from your lively dinner party is still blazing, the conversation may change from that friendly chatter earlier in the night.
At 11pm the gallbladder reins and conversation turns from jovial to more serious. Have you stayed up all night debating the philosophies and mysteries of the world with friends? or perhaps it modern culture, with the use of internet, you will find youth tapping intensely on their keyboards into the early morning. This is because the mental aspect of the gallbladder energy controls decisions and debate. Ideally one should avoid debatable topics late at night as it can often lead to irritability and poor decisions. The gallbladder is the main controller of decisions. 11pm is the time when you either DECIDE to say goodnight or you DECIDE to take the next step and plunge forwards into the night.
Time of the liver. At night, the liver in TCM ‘stores the blood’. This is similar to the western medicine idea of the liver and its function of detoxifying the body. This detoxifying is done by cleansing the blood and in TCM the peak of this activity occurs at night. If there is pain in the liver region between 1am and 3am at night perhaps there is toxicity in this organ.
The liver at night stores blood however during the day it controls the circulation of blood and energy. When people are stressed, this smooth circulation becomes knotted. Do you find yourself waking at 2am on the dot every night? Perhaps you need to take it easy, try meditation during the day to calm your mind. The liver organ is closely related to the gallbladder. It is common for people with gallstones to experience pain between 1am and 3am. Signs of liver disharmonies in TCM are feeling angry, ‘stuck’, PMS, eye problems, IBS, muscle cramps or twitching at night.
Tip one: To help strengthen your liver; perform regular aerobic exercise to help with circulation. As the liver channel flows into the lung meridian to start the cycle again; breathing exercises are also beneficial. Try breathing whilst focussing on a certain area of your body. Focus on this place until you feel warmth or a tingling sensation.
Tip two: Try practicing assertiveness without aggression. Be confident with your decisions and take responsibility for your actions. This helps control the liver from a mental aspect.
In addition to this organ cycle that focuses on peak energies, it is important to note the energetic lows of organs as well. For example; the spleen is at its peak from 9am to 11am and this is when mental activity should be done. This means that from 9pm to 11pm the spleen is at its lowest.
If somebody suffers insomnia and lies in bed for an hour between the times of 9pm to 11pm thinking excessively, this means there is an excess energy in the spleen at the incorrect time. This disharmony needs to be mended earlier in the day or via use of therapies such as acupuncture and herbs. Thinking about what is happening in your body in relation to the energetic highs and lows of your organs can help you readjust your lifestyle and maintain health.
In conclusion, to live a healthy life, just like the acknowledgement of seasons and the change from winter to summer, it is important to live within the daily energetic cycle as well. One must rise just before the sun, perform gentle breathing exercises and some physical exercise, breakfast must be the largest meal of the day and consumed before 9am, do your mental work by 11am, be calm and at peace at lunch, in the evenings have a light meal and enjoy the company of your family and friends. Later, make sure your gallbladder is functioning well and make the correct decision to retire into bed by 10pm.