The Chinese Clock
The Chinese clock in TCM is a helpful tool for identifying which hours of the day are optimal for activities such as eating, drinking, resting and exercising because during certain hours your organs have the most energy.
There are 12 organs and 2 additional systems that are represented by the clock.
When organs are under pressure or out of balance it can manifest in both physical and emotional symptoms.
I have always found it useful to have this clock in the back of my mind to help identify what organs I need to support and likewise TCM practitioners use the clock in order to determine what organ is responsible for dis-ease.
It is associated with grief so it is during this time that you may find yourself waking up if you are going through some sadness or express physical symptoms such as coughing, asthma etc. It is advised to try and relax by doing soothing breathing exercises.
The lungs are also responsible for moving our vital energy, known in TCM as QI round the entire body.
5-7am Large Intestine
Our large intestine is about letting go on every level, which is why this is the optimum time to release your bowels. If you are emotionally holding onto things this is also associated with this organ (known as the second brain) and physically you may experience constipation and toxicity build up that comes out on the skin. It is believed to be a good time to brush your hair as it is thought it helps clear the mind.
This is the best time to eat breakfast and indeed your largest meal of the day as your digestion will work most effectively.
When this organ is out of balance we see symptoms of acid reflux, indigestion and bad breath.
9-11am Pancreas and Spleen
The spleen transforms the nutrients it extracts from food into energy and takes it around the body to be utilised. It is the time when enzymes are released to aid digestion and release energy so it’s the best time to do the hardest tasks of the day.
In order to support this process you can drink warm drinks enhanced with blood sugar balancing cinnamon.
Imbalances of the spleen show up as loose stools, bloating after eating, low energy and craving sugar.
You may feel a lack of confidence at this time.
If you have the chance this time is a good time to relax. The heart does not like stress so sitting quietly and mindfully is better than exercising or stressing.
Symptoms of imbalance here are cold hands and feet, insomnia, shortness of breath.
This is a good time for lunch and a cup of tea. Emotions such as sadness or its opposite are often experienced around this time.
1-3pm Small Intestine
The small intestine separates liquids from more solid waste. If you haven’t drunk enough water up until this time you are most likely to feel dehydrated during this time. It’s the time when the completion of digestion occurs and a good time to think about exercising. Emotionally feelings of vulnerability may arise.
Symptoms of imbalance are duodenal ulcers, bloating and gas.
3-5pm The Bladder
The bladder stores and secretes urine. It is nourished by salty foods. When it’s out of balance typical symptoms are burning, incontinence, yeast infection. It’s important to try and drink more fluids at this time to help remove the wastes being filtered. This can be a good time to focus on mental pursuits or challenges but be aware that feelings of irritability may present themselves at this time.
The kidneys filter blood and maintain chemical balance. It is a good time to eat your evening meal and take some gentle exercises and stretches.
Kidneys are associated with fear and this is an emotion you may feel at this time.
This is the time when all the nutrients are carried to each cell of the body. Avoid exerting yourself physically or mentally at this time and do something quiet like reading. If you have children you ideally want to get them to bed by 7pm as this movement in their system could be quite stimulating and cause them to be hyperactive. This is thought to be a good time to try and conceive.
On an emotional level you may experience an inability to express yourself.
9-11pm Endocrine System
This is the best time to think about going to sleep and conserving energy for the following day as your endocrine system is in charge of enzyme replenishments and readjustments.
You may experience feelings of paranoia at this time.
11pm-1am Gall bladder
The gall bladder stores and excretes bile, which is needed to break down fat.
On an emotional level it is relates to self-esteem and decision-making.
If you are not asleep by this time you are depleting your body’s yang energy, which is storing itself up for the next day, and you will find yourself tired in the morning, have difficulty digesting fats as well as low self-esteem.
The liver stores blood and is involved with breaking down toxins. It is also the seat of our anger. If you have physical problems with your liver, too much yang energy, suppressed anger or resentment you may find yourself waking here.
Physical symptoms are irregular menstruation, anaemia, headaches, and chronic fatigue.
During your day try and be more aware of what processes your body is going through and be as mindful and supportive of them as possible and you will notice an increase in your energy levels.