Cultivating Good Health with Asian Healthcare Traditions

The Garden of Health and Wellbeing

In Chinese philosophy, we think of both the garden and the human body as smaller versions of the entire universe.

Asian Healthcare Traditions

Lan Su, Portland’s Classical Chinese Garden

While visiting Lan Su, Portland’s Classical Chinese Garden, I reflected on how the metaphor of the garden is often used in Chinese medicine to describe the landscape of the human body. When we take care of our selves we are not so much like mechanics fixing what goes wrong but like gardeners cultivating health. Both our gardens and our bodies must be tended and nurtured and both are affected by the seasons. The weather probably has more influence on your health than you realize. It makes sense that such elements as cold, hot, humidity, dryness and wind affect how we feel. Chinese medicine encourages us to stay in harmony with our environment. Paying attention to how the seasons affect us can help us to cultivate our own good health.


Asian Healthcare Traditions

Sanctuary in the City

If you garden you engage in different activities during the different seasons. The summer garden is full and hot and would dry out without intentional watering. It then culminates into the hotter often damper dog days of late summer when the dew is heavy and the molds start to grow. The fall arrives along with colder, dryer winds and its time for harvesting. In the winter there is little activity. You may have your garden resting under a deep mulch or cover crop. All is dormant and energy is stored deep in trees, plants and seeds. This energy will burst forth erratically and abundantly in the spring. At this time, you will be planting the crops that you want to cultivate and pulling up healthy weeds that don’t serve you. All that is sown and tended blooms again into the heat and fullness of summer and the cycle repeats again. This flow of one season into another describes one of the cycles that we observe in Chinese medicine. It is called the creation cycle. Fire (summer) creates Earth (late summer), earth creates metal (fall), metal creates water (winter) and water creates wood (spring).

We see these seasons both literally and metaphorically. Our lives go through seasons also.  We have different needs when we are in the spring of our lives than we do during the autumn of our lives.

The landscape of the body is affected by the seasons. The following posts will address  how to cultivate your own good health through the seasons using the common wisdom of Asian healthcare traditions. These will address ways to cultivate your own good health and do not preclude the importance of addressing your health care concerns with your physician.

Cultivating Good Heath in the Summertime


 Karen Kessler LMP ABT
1104 Main Street, Suite 306
Vancouver WA 98660
360 735 9432 or contact

Karen has been practicing Asian Bodywork Therapy for over 20 years. Using shiatsu, tuina and thai massage she can help you in your quest for good health. She works both energetically and structurally to reduce pain and stress, and to promote healing and injury recovery.