At the core of Chinese Medicine is the principle that nature is governed by Yin/Yang and the five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each season is associated with a different element and with the energy system of different organs. Each element has a different colour, sound, emotion, odour, time of day, season, and type of weather, taste and seasonal power.
Previously in my autumn blog, I talked about the Metal element, a time of harvesting our energies. A time of reflection, letting go and preparing for winter – the season of the Water element. At this time of the year, we all witness how nature slows down and rests quietly. Animals take cover and sleep, water can freeze, plant seeds wait below the surface ready to emerge with new life in the next season.
A quote from the classic text Nei Jing (approx. -200) Su Wen chapter 2 states:-
“In winter all is hidden, this is the season of retirement into the depth, because it is cold outside. It is necessary at the moment not to disturb or disperse the yang energy, thus complying with the energy of the winter.” (Anonymous, 1979, p.3)
Our will, drive and motivation are all associated with the Water element. Imagine the force of a wave, or waterfall, the power of the vast ocean, or the serenity and stillness of a deep lake. We all have these different forms within us. Oceans, rivers, ponds, and reservoirs are all expressions of the Water element. A mountain stream can overflow and become murky from excess rainfall, or blocked by leaves or fallen branches, or run dry with a drought. Our Blood circulation, our lymphatic system, the fluid nature of tears, saliva, lactation, perspiration, urine and sexual secretions are all affected by the Water element. Our skeletal framework, brain and marrow are also governed by this element giving us our shape, movement, protection and nourishment.
In Chinese Medicine the energetic systems of the Kidney (Yin) and Bladder (Yang) are associated with the Water element. The Kidneys store our vital essence, and are the root of yin and yang for the whole body.
The emotion connected with this element is Fear. When Water is out of balance, a person can feel very fearful and over cautious, looking ahead and imagining threats that may happen in life and fearing the worst. On the other hand, a person may not feel appropriate fear in life or suppress any feelings of fear.
A person with strong Kidney energy will have a healthy drive in life and feel glad to be alive. People with depleted Kidney energy may struggle to have any will or drive, or go into overdrive and push themselves too hard in life, causing more Kidney energy depletion. This depletion can manifest in different ways such as an achy lower back or cold lower back and feeling the cold, tinnitus, fertility issues, frequency or infrequency of urine, brittle bones, mental restlessness, being overwhelmed by fear, phobias, night sweats, dry mouth and throat at night, chronic asthma, high libido, low sperm count.
Ways to support and strengthen your Kidney energy
Blue/black foods correspond to the colour of the Water Element so kidney beans, aduki beans, black beans, black sesame seeds, blueberries, blackberries, dark grapes and wild rice are all beneficial.
Eggs, miso broth or chicken broth are all very nourishing. Enjoy warming soups and stews, steamed winter greens, squash, and small amounts of salty foods.
Try to drink filtered water and particularly during winter, drink warm water such as herbal teas.
Keep warm, particularly around your lower back and Kidney area. This is where the acupuncture point Ming Men is located, which translates as the ‘Gate of Life’ or ‘Destiny.’
Take time to rest and restore your energy as this will support your Qi and overall immune system. Try to go to bed a bit earlier if needed and slow down when you can. Balance satisfying activity and challenge with rest and quietness.
Come and have, or continue to have acupuncture treatment, as this will strengthen your Kidney energy which in turn can support your will, drive and motivation and promote emotional balance if life feels very fearful. Acupuncture is a dynamic from of medicine which harmonizes and supports your overall energy base as well as addressing particular element imbalances within your body which could be manifesting on a physical and/or emotional level.
Some examples of acupuncture point names on the Kidney/Bladder channels illustrate the essence of the Water Element perfectly such as: Yong Quan (Bubbling Spring), Tai Xi (Greater Mountain Stream), Zhao Hai (Shining Sea), Zhu Bin (Building up the River Bank), Tian Zhu (Heavenly Pillar).