Seasonal Health – Winter: the Water Element
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Like all ancient cultures, the ancient Chinese lived in close relationship with nature. Their experience and understanding of the cycles of growth and decline that manifested in day and night summer and winter influenced how they thought and acted in every aspect of their lives, including medicine.
These Chinese sages tell us that a well-ordered, long life depends on living in harmony with the depth of quiet and peacefulness of Winter, the blossoming and new beginnings of Spring, the warmth and radiance of Summer, the savory fullness of Late Summer and the clear, light inspiration of Fall. They named each of these seasons after one of the 5 elements and declared that all of creation is made of Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. These seasons, or elements, are seen in nature. Each season has a particular quality and role to play in our gardens, in farmer’s fields and in our lives – they exist inside each one of us and in all of life.
The season of winter brings the stillness of the seasons and holds deeply all the possibilities of life. When living in accordance with the laws of nature winter calls us to hibernate; to go deep within ourselves and store our energy for the coming year. The season of winter is reflective of the Water Element. During the winter the water element within us is at its strongest. The water element gives us our capacity for potential, force and power. It has a rhythm, such as the tides, that ebb and flow within us when in balance. If it is not maintaining balance any aspect of the fluidity with our body, mind and spirit can go awry.
The officials of the water element are the kidneys and the bladder. Physically the primary function of the kidney and the bladder is to manage the fluids in our body. This includes the urinary fluidity, and the fluid movement of our blood. The water element manages the endocrine fluidity and the fluids represented by perspiration, saliva, tears and sexual secretions. So it is found that imbalances of the water element manifest as brittleness of our joints, dryness in the body and excessive thirst. The Chinese recognize the kidneys as housing the vital essence of whom we are meant to be in the world and the bladder is responsible for storing our essence in partnership with the kidney. When our essence is given the opportunity to restore itself in the quiet of winter our well-being will be strengthened as we enter into our next cycle of seasons.
Take time to restore and listen deeply to the possibilities of your life so come the spring a new manifestation can arise and take root.
Written by Sally Laux RN, M.Ac.