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For further details of each of the 2-hour periods click below:

5am-7am • Get Up • Let Go Of The Old • Work On Yourself

Key Thought:  Transformation

Action:  Rising and Defecating

Element:  Metal

Body Part:  Large Intestine

12 Animal Zodiac:  Rabbit

Mnemonic:  This is the time when the Jade Rabbit is busy pounding herbal medicine on the Moon

At 5am our Qi moves to our Large Intestine, which is connected with ‘letting go’ both physically and emotionally.

It is the best time in the entire day to work on ourselves. That is why the mnemonic is about the mystic rabbit pounding herbal medicine – it is about healing and transforming ourselves in accordance with our designs.

Between 5am-7am we have the opportunity to cut out what we no longer want, conquer our inner demons and experience a daily victory that will facilitate change in our lives.

As the sun rises in our day we have an opportunity to rise with it and the first activities are to do with ‘letting go of the old and embracing the new’. This means physically letting go by having a bowel movement and emotionally letting go by doing some morning exercise, which can include Qi gong, meditation, yoga, stretching, prayer, playing music or a combination of these activities. Most importantly, it is something you enjoy and is for yourself.

Think of sayings in your own culture about getting up early or at sunrise and enquire what time successful and effective people around you wake up. If you want to be happy, healthy and effective, they’re few things that will help you more than waking up early.

7am-9am • Eat A Healthy, Grounding Breakfast

Key Thought:  Grounding

Action:  Eat a warm hearty breakfast

Element:  Earth

Body Part:  Stomach

12 Animal Zodiac:  Dragon

Mnemonic:  This is the time when Dragons are hovering in the sky to give rain

At 7am our Qi high tides in our Stomach system and the most important thing to do is to have breakfast. A good breakfast strengthens our digestion for the whole day. Look towards traditional breakfasts for the best results – hot, soupy, grain-based (porridge best) with a little protein (egg) and easy on digestion best for a healthy, nourishing breakfast. Take your time – 10 or 20 minutes quietly, mindfully eating breakfast centers us so powerfully that our entire outlook on the day can shift.

7am-9am is related to the Stomach and earth element – right in the center of our organs. In Chinese medicine, our body is from the earth (Yin) and our spirit is from Heaven (Yang). This is the best time of day to nourish the physical body (earth) with foods from the earth.

If you are seeking healthy weight combined with emotional stability, breakfast is essential.

9am-11am • Do Your Most Important, Least Enjoyable Work Of The Day

Key Thought:  Action & Productivity

Action:  Thinking & Working

Element:  Earth

Body Part:  Spleen

12 Animal Zodiac:  Snake

Mnemonic:  This is the time when Snakes are leaving their caves

In Chinese medicine, the Spleen is paired with the Stomach. Once the Stomach has broken down food, the Spleen is the organ responsible for transforming and transporting the nutrients to the muscles and brain. It supports both physical strength and mental clarity.

With the nutrients of a healthy breakfast putting into action at this time of day, our spirit is grounded, our intentions will be clear, our minds will be focused, and our bodies will feel strong and supported. Of course, like everything, this clarity may take time to come together, and the focus should be on tackling the most important task of the day. Whether it is physical or mental work, this is the best time for getting it done.

Don’t delay, remove distractions and focus on the most important task now! (No excuses please!)

11am-1pm • Connect With Your Own Purpose • Inspire Others

Key Thought:  Love & Purpose

Action:  Connect & Communicate

Element:  Fire

Body Part:  Heart

12 Animal Zodiac:  Horse

Mnemonic:  This is the time when the sun is high overhead and while other animals are lying down for a rest, Horses are still standing

The horse is a symbol of our spirit. They are intuitive, sensitive and powerful. When our minds are not tied down by over-processing, worry and decision-making, we are responsive and intuitive as a horse.

In Chinese medicine, the spirit resides in the Heart. So during the Heart time, 11am-1pm, it’s the time to back off from the mental/physical hard work, as we want to let our spirit take the lead. It is the time for communicating with others and expressing ourselves, for being inspired and inspiring others, for thinking about what brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives. Less standing, being busy and working, more sitting, talking, relaxing being open for deeper conversation and nourishment. The communal lunch is ideal with close friends and/or family, as it combines earth nourishment with good food and spiritual nourishment with good company.

Because our sense of purpose tends to be stronger now, it is a perfect time for making big life decisions. Maybe you’ve been thinking about changing careers, or going back to school, or taking a potentially life-changing trip. Now’s the time to seek council and see if it feels right!

1pm-3pm • Slow Down • Rest & Digest

Key Thought:  Chill Out

Action:  Slow Down, Sorting and Organizing

Element:  Fire

Body Part:  Small Intestine

12 Animal Zodiac:  Goat

Mnemonic:  This is the time when Goats and sheep eat grass and urinate frequently

Throughout the morning, yang energy is rising. It is the most active and productive time of the day. As we tip out of Heart time—the peak of yang energy—and into Small Intestine time, yang energy stops driving forward and pushing outward and it naturally begins to turn inward and downward.

The Small Intestine is responsible for sorting the nutrients from our food. Best to eat lunch sometime between 12pm and 1pm, so that Small Intestine time is a midday break to rest and digest. In many cultures around the world, this means siesta. Whether or not you are able lay down, sit back and close your eyes, it is important to take some time to shut down the system – 15-30 minutes is ideal.

Similarly, Small Intestine time is ideal for processing and organizing the work of the day so far. This sorting requires us to slow down. The quiet, receptive yin energy is just starting to grow. If we quiet ourselves down to nurture it, we will be able to use that natural reflective energy to sort out what we’ve done so far, discard what we don’t need and focus on what’s left to do.

3pm-5pm • Back Straight • Finish Your Workday Strong

Key Thought:  Support

Action:  Storing & Reserving, Wrap Up The Workday

Element:  Water

Body Part:  Bladder

12 Animal Zodiac:  Monkey

Mnemonic:  This is the time when Monkeys are lively

If we follow natural rhythms throughout the day, by mid-afternoon we should feel strong and supported, not only by our own accomplishments and sense of purpose, but also by the energy of the universe. This is the gift of the Water element. It is the foundation of our physical bodies and the deep spiritual mysteries. By following natural cycles, we can tap into this expansive power and let it carry us to the end of the day.

The monkey – mind-energy – is most active and it can be difficult to focus. Sit down for a cup of tea as a 3pm ritual that can re-focus the energy, reflect and help you keep your back straight through to the end of the workday.

If you are feeling this time of day is a slog, sugar cravings kick in, feelings of frustration and a lack of purpose with what we are doing? Much of this comes from living in opposition to our design – maybe we didn’t eat a good breakfast and tackle our hardest tasks before noon? Maybe we pushed ourselves through lunch, ate a quick meal and didn’t rest? Answer: Follow the Chinese clock from the 5am-7am for 3 months and feel the difference yourself. Everyday is a new opportunity.

5pm-7pm • Switch Off • Reflect On The day • Share A Laugh

Key Thought:  Switching off

Action:  Acknowledge Strength & Skill, Share a Laugh

Element:  Water

Body Part:  Kidney

12 Animal Zodiac:  Rooster

Mnemonic: This is the time when Chickens begin to go back to their coops

Now, at 5pm-7pm, Qi fills the Kidney system. The Kidneys in Chinese medicine are the root of Yin and Yang, the source of all Qi in the body. We should connect with this root and gently nourish it, but not expend it. If we keep working through this time, we risk draining our deepest reserves. This can lead to insomnia that night and exhaustion the next day. Hence, in the mnemonic – the chickens return to the coops.

We want to consciously switch from the productive yang activities of the daytime to the receptive and relaxing Yin activities of the evening. Have a light dinner and go for a walk or do gentle meditative exercises. Similar to how we used Stomach time to eat and ground ourselves at the start of the day, Kidney time is perfect for grounding ourselves at the end of the day.

7pm-9pm • Socialize • Seek Pleasure

Key Thought:  Pleasure & Leisure

Action:  Coming Home & Socializing

Element:  Fire

Body Part:  Pericardium

12 Animal Zodiac:  Dog

Mnemonic:  This is the time when Dogs begin to carry out their duty of guarding the houses

In the last section, we saw the transition between day and night. It was a time to slow down. Now, during the Pericardium time, we really unwind, have a little fun, and prepare for bed.

From 7pm-9pm, we pursue creative outlets, socialize with friends and family, and release sexual energy. In Chinese, the Pericardium is called the “Heart Protector”. Throughout the day, this outer layer of the Heart organ takes on the brunt of mental and emotional stress. As we unwind now, we use creativity and sexuality to shed that stress.

Releasing emotional tension at the end of the day is not only crucial for falling into a deep sleep later, but also for connecting with our loved ones and reconnecting with our inner selves.

9pm-11pm • Ride The Wave • Go To Sleep

Key Thought:  Passage

Action:  Falling Asleep, Ride The Wave

Element:  Fire

Body Part:  Triple Burner — Body Cavities/Fluid Circulation

12 Animal Zodiac:  Pig

Mnemonic:  This is the time when Pigs are sleeping most sweetly

The most important thing during this time is to fall asleep. There is a natural wave that hits around 9pm telling us it’s time for bed. If we ignore it, we get a second wind and it will be difficult to fall asleep until that wave comes around again at midnight or 1am.

A pre-bed ritual is one of the most effective ways to maintain healthy sleep rhythm. If we do the same thing every day, our bodies will begin to anticipate it. So as soon as we brush our teeth or change into pajamas or sit for an evening mediation or take a footbath, it is a cue to our bodies that we caught the wave and are riding it to sleep.

11pm-1am • Sleep on it • The Right Time To Decide

Key Thought:  Courage & Regenerate

Action:  Sleeping & Unconscious Deciding

Element:  Wood

Body Part:  Gallbladder

12 Animal Zodiac:  Mouse

Mnemonic:  This is the time when Rats are most active in seeking food. Rat also have a different number of digits on front and hind legs, thus earning Rat the symbol of “turn over” or “new start”

The mouse lives an opposite rhythm to humans, mice come out when the whole house is asleep.

The mouse and Gallbladder are called the “Small Yang”. Imagine it as the flickering flame of a matchstick that will eventually grow into the blazing fire that is the Heart at midday. But if we are still awake at midnight, we burn out, and the next morning becomes a challenge. We need complete yin to allow yang to grow. We should be asleep at the most yin part of the night so that our bodies can recover and rebuild.

In Chinese medical psychology, the Gallbladder system governs the decision-making process. For most of us, we prefer to approach decisions deliberately and analytically. The Dao and Zen philosophies, however, are about semi-mystical positions of self, oneness, absolute subjectivity, highlighting personal feeling, and extreme opposition to logic and intellectualization. By sleeping through the Gallbladder time, we mystically sort through big decisions that have been weighing on us and we can wake up with a more profound answer staring us in the face.

1am-3am • Deep Sleep • Dreaming & Restoring

Key Thought:  Recovery

Action:  Deep Resting and Dreaming

Element:  Wood

Body Part:  Liver

12 Animal Zodiac:  Ox

Mnemonic:  This is the time when Oxen begin to chew the cud slowly and comfortably

From 1am-3am, the Liver tackles a big job. In Chinese medicine, the Liver stores and regulates Blood. At night, if we stopped eating 3 hours before bed, the Blood returns to the Liver to be cleaned and revitalized. This is one of the most important ways that we detoxify not only our bodies but also our emotions. Deep, restorative sleep at this time is the main way we maintain the balance of ‘Zheng Qi’ (upright good Qi) and ‘Xie Qi’ (bad Qi) in our physical and emotional worlds.

When the Blood returns to the Liver, we dream, described as the wandering of the Hun, the Ethereal Soul. During the day, the Hun is like the general providing determination and persistence for our big plans and dreams. When living a balanced life, Blood is stored safely in the Liver at this time, we dream because the Hun is free to explore beyond its physical confines. The quality, quantity and ‘softness’ of this Blood all affect the quality, quantity and how connected we are to our dreams.

Dreams are the most important expression of our inner world. are our most valuable counselor. Dreaming, both at night and in the daytime are a key element in a healthy, fulfilling life. Deep sleep from 1am-3am is crucial.

3am-5am • The Spirit Returns • The Body Prepares To Wake

Key Thought:  Embodiment

Action:  Early Stirring & Gentle Breathing

Element:  Metal

Body Part:  Lung

12 Animal Zodiac:  Tiger

Mnemonic:  This is the time when Tigers hurt their prey more and show their ferocity

While the Liver is connected to the Hun, the heavenly-spiritual part of ourselves, the Lungs are connected to the Po, the earthly-animal-body, symbolized by the ferocity of a tiger. This time is primarily in charge of preparing the physical body for a new day – regulation of activities like respiration and peristalsis. Through the steady rhythm of breathing, the Lungs are responsible for moving Qi throughout the body. Imagine the Lungs gathering the subconscious decisions and dreams of the past 4 hours and carrying them to every cell in the body.

Be careful in assuming that the Hun, the heavenly spiritual part of ourselves is more important than the Po, the earthly-animal-body. Like Yin-Yang, they are inter-dependent, inter-related and inter-promoting. The Po is also a key player in manifesting our dreams in this lifetime.