The water element
Winter is the season associated with the water element. Snow and cold calms and cleanses the countryside. All things lie dormant, doors are closed.
Winter is the time to retreat to the inner depths of our being, a time rest and to reflect upon life and to replenish the seed potential for new life contained, deep within….waiting, until the season turns and once again the energy stirs, and new life emerges in the spring time.
Water is yin in nature. The ancient Chinese had a profound respect for the element of water likening its qualities as close to the Dao more than any other element
"The highest excellence is like water”. Water is yielding but all conquering “Water flows, flows down to the lowest levels and penetrates all.
Chinese medicine views the human body in the same way as a forest or garden and sees that balance between the elements brings optimum health. Water acts as a medium for transporting vital nutrients which feed and swell the plant cells, together with the warmth of the sun the relationship and balance between the fire element and the water element is shown for example in the abundance of a tropical rain forest which supports myriad life forms.
The Bladder and Kidneys are the organs governed by water. The Bladder governs the waterways within the body and controls the ability to store and maintain reserves. Excessive water retention dampens vitality and warmth and causes us to feel overwhelmed, stuck in a stagnant pool unable to move forward in life with physical symptoms such as oedema, bloating and swelling of the tissues
Conversely a person may be unable to contain reserves, perspiring excessively often exhibiting a lack of containment in their behaviour, gushing and wasting energy. The element of Earth becomes waterlogged or washed away, unable to support life.
The kidneys are the source of reproduction and relate to the sexual and reproductive organs. Life was created out of water the process of reproduction needs the life power of water and warmth to bring vitality. Problems such as impotence, low sex drive, or infertility relate to the kidneys.
In Chinese medicine the emotion associated with Water is fear. Those people with an imbalance in the water element can suffer excessive fear and a sense of imminent disaster. Fear of failure drives them to try too hard and to overwork, often resulting in back tension, difficulty sleeping, chronic thirst, or fatigue. Conversely a lack of ambition and drive, apathetic and “wishy washy” with out strong reserves they lack courage and strength to undertake projects and lack the will to carry them through to the end.
People with imbalance in water may be afraid of what is behind them. The Bladder meridian runs along the back of the body, and represents what is behind us, where we have come from and how we have formed what is the present The saying “The bigger the front, the bigger the back” refers to how often some people expend a lot of energy trying to avoid the pain of past experience, always moving forward and never reflecting on the past.
Imbalance in water may cause the bones to wither and become brittle with a tendency to break bones. Bone marrow produces haemoglobin which nourishes the blood.
The brain is said to be the ‘the sea of marrow’. The ability to make clever connections and command the flow of thought indicates a balance within a person’s water element. Stillness of the mind, free from agitation, enables us to listen and hear more clearly and also helps us to conserve our energy rather than dribbling away our reserves with pointless thoughts and idle chatter.
The ears are associated with the kidneys. It is said that large well formed ears represent strong Kidneys. The ears are shaped rather like a kidney. The fluid in the semi circular canal of the ear enables the function of hearing, balance and equilibrium.
Kidney Jing determines our constitutional strength, growth and development. Kidney Jing is the essence derived from Pre heaven essence, inherited from our parents at conception. It can be gradually depleted throughout our lifetimes unless it is conserved well.
Looking after the water element.
Drink enough fluids, drinking clear fresh water helps to cleanse and hydrate the bladder and kidneys
Wearing warm clothes that protect the lower back particularly in cold weather helps to protect the kidneys and conserves energy.
Eating warming foods, such as ginger and warming spices. Kidney beans, adzuki and black beans are good for the kidney energy as are, fish, sea weed and moderately salty foods.
Get plenty of sleep, and conserve energy by resting and allowing time for inner reflection and contemplation.
Water is cleansing, revitalising and life giving. Clear flowing streams of water are vital to life, if the flow becomes blocked water silts up and becomes muddy and stagnant
Trust in life, allow things to flow, with out fear and tension. This helps us to move and remain supple and fluid in response to the ebb and flow of life’s changes.