How to make every day work for you using the ancient Chinese Body Clock

Written by Dr. Stephanie Flockhart | 11 May, 2020

The fast-paced lifestyle our society promotes is generating so much illness and imbalance that it is leaving the majority of people feeling as though they are simply surviving, rather than radiating with the health and energy they desire. We must ask ourselves the question, why are we so busy making a living, that we are forgetting to live?

"What if you were able to unlock the secret to making every day work for you? What if you knew the best time to eat and sleep, to exercise and to relax, when to do your most demanding work, the ideal time to book your therapy session or work on personal development, when you’re most likely to come up with good ideas, and all the other things that would make life more straight forward and even feel like it’s on your side? The wonderful news is that the design for your perfect day already exists.” (1) - Jost Sauer

Over thousands of years, Traditional Chinese Medicine not only discovered how our organs work but also how each of them directly impacts our emotions and spirit. If an organ isn’t in balance or functioning as well as it should be, this will affect both your physical wellbeing and how you relate to yourself and others on an emotional level. (3)

The Chinese Organ Clock can be used as a guide to understanding your energy cycle, and help you understand how to best nurture yourself, do certain things and avoid others depending on which organs time it is. (6)

It is suggested that by following this pattern, by synching your routine and matching your daily activities to relate to the qualities of each organ or timeslot, you will always be in flow with life.(1) By following this powerful insight to the natural flow of your body and its energy cycles, you will effortlessly manifest abundant energy, radiant health and even enhance your life purpose.

Let’s explore the Ancient Chinese Body Clock

5-7 AM The Large Intestine

This is the best time to wake up and start your morning routine! Choosing to exercise, practice Yoga or some gentle stretching, and take time to move your bowels. Exercising in the morning is much more beneficial for your body than after work during “Kidney” time, as it can have a detrimental effect on the Adrenals if you squeeze in your movement at the end of the day.

Tips for Large Intestine time

● Drink a glass of warm water with a squeeze of lemon
● Move your bowels
● Hold off having your morning coffee until after breakfast time (this will support the balance of your hormones and Adrenal Glands)

7-9 AM The Stomach

The most important thing to remember is to eat breakfast during this time. (1)

Skipping breakfast can impact on your energy levels and the balance of the Stomach organ and meridian. Stomach energy is extremely important for a healthy digestive system, building immunity, creating and supporting the body to lead a healthy life. Currently, we are seeing Intermittent Fasting in the spotlight and people are quick to cut out breakfast to support this way of eating. If you are going to regularly incorporate Intermittent Fasting into your daily routine, I urge you to consider eating within the window of 7am to 5pm (for most people 8.30-4.30pm works well for them) and approach breakfast as your largest meal.

Tips for Stomach time

● Hold off on your morning coffee or matcha until after breakfast, as these drinks interfere with appetite and hormonal regulation (especially if you have Adrenal, Thyroid or Hormone Related Imbalances).
● Choose warm foods to support Digestive Function. Cold food is such a shock to the digestive system and if you consume cold foods regularly, you may feel tired, depleted and ungrounded throughout the day.
Breakfast suggestion: This is a great opportunity to experiment with adding an extra serve of vegetables into your diet. Lightly sautéed spinach, mushrooms and zucchini make lovely signs or fillings for an omelette!
● Use this time to practice mindfulness. Even if you only have ten minutes to spare, make time to sit down and enjoy your food.

9-11 AM The Spleen

Dedicate this time to study, working and to work that requires increased levels of concentration. This is particularly important for students, as many opt to study late into the evening under the guise of there being less distractions. Leave the evenings to relax and recharge, rather than burying yourself in a textbook or overstimulated by the blaring blue light of your computer screen.

Tips for Spleen time

● Use the energy of this time to your advantage and schedule in meetings, study dates and anything that requires a lot of brain power! (1)

11 AM-1 PM The Heart

Both Eastern and Western Medicine agree that the Heart is revered to be extremely special, if not the most important part of the organ system. The Institute of HeartMath found the heart to have 16 times the electromagnetic field of the brain, and there have been countless recounts of organ recipients taking on the cellular memory of their donor. (7)

Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the Heart is responsible for holding our memories, which is why news of heart transplant recipients suddenly acquiring the memories and skills of their donor is understood, and often expected.

Tips for Heart time

● This time is powerful and extremely supportive of creativity and activities that bring you happiness. Use this time for brainstorming, trying out an artistic endeavour, and activities that embody love and joy. (1)

1-3 PM The Small Intestine

This time period is when the energy of the day begins to slow down and we can begin to support our system in preparation for the evening. We link the second half of the day, leading into the evening time to “Yin” energy in Chinese Medicine, which is all about rest, rejuvenation and slowing down.

This is a great time to schedule Lunch, again choosing warm nourishing meals when possible. Post Lunch, schedule a nap to give you the energy to float through your afternoon activities! (1)

Tips for Small Intestine time

● If possible, schedule a nap during this time. Or take the time to enjoy a meditation break. Sit under a tree, or somewhere you won’t be disturbed and focus on your breath for ten to fifteen minutes before going back to work or the classroom.

3-5 PM The Bladder

This time is when the majority of people “hit a wall”, reaching for a chocolate bar or another coffee to make it through the afternoon slump. When you work with the Ancient Body Clock consistently, this time is a powerful reflection of your progress and an indication of how well your energy is flowing. Scheduling tasks that require less “brain power”, for example grocery shopping, basic paperwork and the more mundane tasks is recommended during this time.

Tips for Bladder time

● Book in activities and items on your to do list, that require minimal brain power during this time. (1)
● As you work to balance your energy by following the principles of the Body Clock, over time you will find your energy will naturally increase instead of plummet during this time.

5-7 PM The Kidney

The most important point to highlight during this time, is to avoid doing high intensity exercise or strenuous workouts. This is especially relevant if you have an underlying hormonal imbalance, Thyroid condition or Adrenal fatigue. The late afternoon and evening time is best dedicated to unwinding and relaxing. The balance and wellbeing of your body is best left to exercising in the morning. If you enjoy movement as a way to unwind, go for a relaxing stroll outside, enjoy some gentle stretching or a Yin Yoga class.

Tips for Kidney Time

● Leave this time for relaxing activities, aiming to nurture and nourish your body so it can unwind from the day. (1)
● Reschedule high intensity exercise classes for the morning, and if you feel you must move your body during “Kidney time”, opt for a more gentle form of exercise like a stroll or Yin Yoga Class.

7-9 PM The Pericardium

Pericardium time is best spent relaxing with your loved ones, enjoying some time to get creative and sitting down to eat a light dinner. This time period is meant to be relaxing and supportive in winding down for sleep. Choosing to turn off electronics, putting your phone on airplane mode or making sure you’re using your blue light blocking glasses (if you’re unable to avoid screens).

Tips for Pericardium Time

● If you haven’t already, take time to shower and change into some comfortable clothes. This signals the end of the “work day” and supports you in relaxing during this time.
● Laying on your back with your legs up the wall for five minutes is another way to relax the nervous system, and support your body in preparation for sleep. (8)

9-11 PM The Triple Heater

Now it is time to tuck yourself into bed. Your bedroom is a sanctuary, so create a space that feels like one for you. Think lovely dim lights, candles, essential oil diffuser and plants. Be mindful to ensure no eating or technology in the bedroom. Sleep with your phone on Airplane Mode and switch on the “Do Not Disturb” function.

Tips for Triple Heater Time

● Try including a gratitude practice as a part of your night time routine. Name or write down three things you’re grateful for. Tip: Leaving a notebook next to your bed is a great way to avoid the temptation of scrolling on your phone.
● An oil diffuser with lavender essential oil is a wonderful way to support relaxation and a great night’s sleep.

11-1 AM The Gallbladder

Sleeping during this time period is important for optimal health, and restful sleep.(1)

Following the body clock and treating yourself as you would a baby, thinking of winding down for bed as a multiple hour-long ritual will support you feeling ready for sleep during this time. In Chinese Medicine, The Gallbladder organ is related to decision making, so if you’re having difficulty making decisions in any area of your life, you may also be struggling to sleep during this time.

Tips for Gallbladder time

● Actively practice making decisions to strengthen your Gallbladder. Start with small daily decisions, like what to eat off a menu without asking anyone else, deciding what walking track you would like to take or what you feel like watching or listening to without being swayed by anyone else’s opinion.
● If you are struggling with sleep during this time, Acupuncture can be a powerful tool to balance out your Gallbladder energy, resolve sleep issues and reduce Stress. You can find a registered Acupuncturist in your area on the AACMA website.

1-3 AM The Liver

The Liver plays an important role in detoxifying the body and processing our emotions. If you’re waking up during this time it can indicate something is out of balance or your Liver is overloaded. This is an indication that you may have an unhealthy diet, consuming alcohol in excess or your nervous system is stuck in a state of fight or flight.

Tips for Liver Time

● Deep sleep is crucial during this time, as the Liver is responsible for detoxing the body.
● If you are experiencing high levels of stress in your life, you might be waking up during this time
● Participating in stress reducing activities including mediation or journalling, reducing alcohol intake, scheduling in Acupuncture or a Deep Tissue massage would be beneficial additions to your routine to support the Liver.

3-5 AM The Lungs

Ideally you are still sleeping during this window, as it is still Yin time.(6)

Waking up during this time may indicate that you have an imbalance in your Lung energy. Grief and sadness are the emotions linked to the Lungs. Consider whether you’re feeling any emotional tension or stress, as it may be blocking your ability to take deep breaths.

Practicing deep abdominal breathing exercises, Yoga and Meditation are wonderful ways to support your Lungs and release any unresolved emotions. This time is considered to be deeply spiritual, with many monks and meditation masters waking during this time to connect with themselves and their spiritual practice. (5)

Tips for Lung Time:

● Have a notebook and pen by your bed to record what you remember of your dreams.
● If you’re awake take this extra time to meditate, lay in bed and connect with your breath by practicing deep abdominal breathing.

To sum it all up…

Clearly, with our modern busy lives, schedules, family commitments and unforeseen circumstances. We can’t plan every day out to the exact hour. Use this as a guide only, at very least, read through this whenever you feel imbalanced and try to set aside the corresponding organs time that week and see the amazing changes for yourself.

References

  1. Sauer. J, 2010, “The Perfect Day Plan”
  2. ReShel. A, 2016, “Understanding the 24 hour Chi Cycle”, https://upliftconnect.com/24-hour-chi-cycle/
  3. John S. O’Neill, Akhilesh B. Reddy. Circadian clocks in human red blood cells. Nature, 2011; 469 (7331): 498 DOI: 10.1038/nature09702
  4. Lejus. O, 2017, “Grief and The Lungs”, http://novaholisticjournal.com/stories/grief-and-the-lungs
  5. Sadhguru, 2015, “The Best Time to Meditate and Do Yoga”, https://isha.sadhguru.org/us/en/wisdom/article/best-time-to-practice-yoga
  6. Zhang. T, Yan. L, Juan. S, 2016, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Science “Human biological rhythm in traditional Chinese medicine”, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095754816301028
  7. Heart Math Institute, 2020, https://www.heartmath.org/
  8. Yoga Journal, 2017, Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/legs-up-the-wall-pose

Dr. Stephanie Flockhart

As a modern Acupuncturist, I believe in the integration of Eastern and Western philosophy, creating a well-rounded framework for healing that is inclusive and holistic for all. It was always the tools and teachings of Chinese Medicine that brought me vibrancy, energy and balance each time I felt I had drifted out of alignment with my health. It was this love and respect for Chinese Medicine now permanently in my heart, that saw me qualified as a registered Acupuncturist at Endeavour College as a young adult. Soon after I embarked on a career treating, caring and connecting with women from all around Australia

Read more by Dr. Stephanie Flockhart

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