Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yellow is the New Green

I had the opportunity to use a composting toilet last week. Apparently, when urine and solid waste are separated, bacteria can break them down much faster than when they are mixed, and the results can be used safely as excellent compost for your gardening and farming needs.

This NY Times piece discusses one of the main problems with the toilet:

Then there’s the sitting problem: in most urine-diversion toilets, a man must empty his bladder sitting down. This wouldn’t be a problem in some countries — Germany recently introduced a toilet-seat alarm that admonishes standers to sit — but it has been in others. Professor Jenssen was flummoxed by one participant at a training workshop in Cuba who said firmly, “If a man sits, he is homosexual.”

I wasn't crazy about sitting down to pee, either. I turned to sit down, but just couldn't make myself do it. Something about it seems... not right. So I compromised by turning as if I was going to sit down, but without actually letting my thighs touch the seat.

This seems like an almost laughably easy problem to fix. What is a urinal? Just a funnel with a tube on the end. I could make one out of half an old milk bottle and some rubber hosing. Just point the hosing where you need the urine to end up, and now you've got both a urinal for the men and a toilet for both sexes. This wonder-toilet will never be hugely popular - there's no need to make things harder by trying to break deeply seated psychological conditioning.

The standing urination position may be about more than just psychology. The Kidney channel (foot shaoyin) runs from the bottom of the foot to the inner ankle and up the inside of the calf, to the crotch and the genitals, where it dives into the body and runs its internal course, linking with the urinary bladder and the kidney, before emerging near the pubic bone and rising up the front of the body to just under the clavicle.

In TCM, the Kidneys are the root of life. In addition to filtering toxins and purifying urine, the Kidneys store sexual energy and 精 Jing. Consequently, preserving Jing can improve your sexual health and lengthen your life.

A friend of mine from Taiwan says that if you gently rise up on the ball of your foot while urinating and lift your 会阴 Huiyin point, you can preserve some Kidney energy that would be otherwise lost. Thus it can be important for a man to stand up while urinating.

There are many theories on how to preserve Kidney energy. I don't think lifting your heels is a widely accepted part of TCM therapy, but it's food for thought.

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