Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Year of the Snake

Uploaded by cyLtt taka, forwarded to us by Sharif Bapu, UK

Hyun K. Lee explains the significance of the snake year:

The New Year is celebrated by most cultures around the world, although the dates and rituals vary.

A new year is always a time for celebration and renewal. In the Western world, reflection on the past year and resolutions for the coming year are a central focus, but in Asia, there is also a much greater emphasis on wishing for good health.

According to folklore, in the Korean and Chinese New Year, there are general indications of what to expect, good or bad, based on which zodiac animal governs the year. Whether or not we believe in these signs, there are still good lessons here for all of us: To take stock of our general health and well being, both mental and physical, and to make a commitment to putting our health in prime focus for the coming year.

In Asia, this year is the year of the snake. Contrary to Western thinking, the snake is considered to be very smart and auspicious, and a snake year is thought to bring good things for all.

On the health front, those born in the year of the snake are thought to need to focus on maintaining their inner calmness, good health and well being, since stress is considered to be very bad for their general health, and particularly their brain and nervous system. This directive is not just for snakes, its also good for all of us.

Since the brain controls not just our thoughts but also our entire body, maintaining good brain health should be a priority for everyone, young and old.

Our brain, nervous system and organs are all interdependent. So, in order for these systems to function at their best, we must begin by focusing attention on our diet and lifestyle. Our brain cells are constantly being replaced throughout our lifetime, but in order to maintain a healthy brain as we age, we need to begin watching our diet when we are young.

To maintain optimum cellular health, the brain needs nourishing food, not junk food. The food choices we make when we are young will affect not just our brain cells, but our whole body as we age. Continued bad diet and lifestyle choices will have a cumulative negative effect, and could lead to debilitating mental function in old age.

We all know about these negative effects on our health, but many of us still just choose to ignore the warnings. We tend to take our good health for granted, until one day we are shocked into paying attention by a wake-up call, such as a heart attack, stroke, or sudden memory loss.

But we don't need to wait for these events to occur. We can choose to take better care of our brain and our general health right now. It can be our new year resolution.

Obviously, choosing to eat more healthy foods is a good place to start, and adding gentle daily exercise, such as walking, swimming, or Tai Chi, is even better. Paying attention to what you clean your house with, what you bring into your home, what it is made of, what you sleep on, and what you wear, are also important things to focus on too, since chemical out-gassing from cleaning fluids, furnishings and clothing is not good for brain health either.

So, as we start a new Snake Year, let us resolve to make it a year of mindfulness and special focus on our health. I hope that you will all choose to be smart like the snake, and choose to pay special attention to your brain health. After all, where would you be without it?

I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year.

Dr. Hyun K. Lee is a Korean-American with an acupuncture practice in Solvang, Redondo Beach and Beverly Hills. He can be reached at 693-5162 or at

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