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The Bladder's sister organ is the Kidney.  Because they are so closely connected many of the issues listed above can also occur with the Kidney.  In addition, the Kidney's job is to take the clean reservoir of water in our body and distribute it to all the other organ systems.  If the Kidney isn't doing its job properly you might find that above the waist you look and feel great but from your hips down you are swollen and stiff with edema, that you get a urinary tract infection, or you need dialysis.  This is simply water not being organized in the proper fashion by the Kidney.  

The Kidney houses our "Jing," the energy that is passed to us through our ancestors.  The Chinese believe the Kidney is the storehouse for this energy, it's the energy of life that is passed from one generation to the next.  This energy that we've been given in our lifetime is housed in the Kidney. This energy is not just physical.  Any time we have a mental, emotional, or spiritual level struggle we are using this Kidney energy.  Studying and taking exams, resolving relationship issues, taking care of an elderly parent.  Anything we do within our day where we are literally drawing on our reserves uses the Kidney power.  The Kidney is our stamina, our will-power, the ability to keep pushing through even when we are exhausted.

When we go about our day eating nutritious food, sleeping well, breathing clean air, and exercising, we build more energy (Qi).  This energy powers all the organ systems in our body and if there's enough left, powers us externally. If we burn through this energy in a day, then our Kidney switches on.  Think of it as your personal generator.  Our Jing is limited.  The more we overuse our daily supply of energy and revert to our generator, we are using up our Jing.  No Jing, no life.  

This is why it's vitally important to feed your body the right food to optimize your energy stores, to learn how to live more in harmony with the seasons, and to remember  and incorporate into your life what feeds your soul.

What can you do now?  Recognize the moments where your spirit is care-free.  What do you do daily where you feel safe and secure?  What do you do daily that you forget about all your worries and fears?  Are you taking in the proper nourishment on all levels to build your energy reserves? The more you recognize these moments the more they will grow inside of you and begin to spread into hours and days of time where you sink into this wondrous life you've been given and trust that you are in the flow; being exactly where you need to be at exactly the right timThe organs that correspond to the Water element (Winter season) are the Bladder & the Kidney.  In Five Element Acupuncture the Bladder is considered the organ that is in charge of the Storage of Water. The Kidney Controls the Waterways.

When I think about all the elements and the corresponding organ systems they resemble a kingdom being ruled by a King or a Queen.  Within that kingdom there are jobs to be done to make sure that everyone's needs are met and the kingdom remains vital and functioning.  In this particular example, the Bladder & the Kidney are in charge of the movement and storage of water in that kingdom.  Think for  a minute about the flow of water in our community.  What if we didn't have gutters, storm drains, wells, and water tanks available?  Imagine how our water would flow, or not, and how far we would need to travel to get clean water for ourselves.  The Bladder & the Kidney are providing this function within our body on a daily basis.  We take for granted that we urinate out our extra water rather than swelling with edema.  That our Kidney's filter out toxins and give our body back clean fluid.

The majority of our body (50-60%) is made up of water.  Just like our environment needs water to live, our bodies need the proper intake and movement of water to nourish our bodies all the way to the cellular level.  Yes folks, drinking water (and I'm not talking about beverages with water in them!) supports our brain functioning, our joints and muscles, our blood and cells.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to drink  water daily! And the appropriate movement of water thru the Bladder and the Kidney brings good movement and flow to our inner kingdom.

The next step is to go back to your image of Winter and that season's resonance within yourself.  Imagine what our world looks like if we don't have a snowy winter.  For us in the Adirondacks it means looking at dried up streams and bogs, trickles of water thru a river, a low lake level.  Animals then have to come further down from habitats to reach water, crops can't grow and flourish in the Spring, water restrictions are put into place by town offices by Summer, the harvest in the Fall is limited.  Storage of water and proper movement effects the entire elemental system. Without water, nothing in nature can move, flow and be nourished.  Without water our pilot light goes out and we die.

As I've mentioned before, these elements and the corresponding organ systems support us not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.

The Bladder meridian is the longest on the body.  It starts on the inside area of your eye by your nose, travels over your head multiple times, down your back & buttocks in two different lines, down the back of your thighs and calves and then wraps around to the outside of your foot and ends at the tip of your pinky toe.  

On a physical level, the Bladder is responsible for the balance of water within us.  If we drink more water, we will urinate more.  If we do a hard workout and work up a good sweat, we will crave more water.  The Bladder watches how much water comes into our system and how much goes out; constantly balancing the two in order to keep our inner kingdom appropriately hydrated.  It also holds onto clean water while excreting toxins and impurities.

As we talked about above, water is fundamental to every element and every part of our body including on the cellular level.  When the Bladder isn't doing its job properly, those toxins and impurities can  gradually poison the body.   Those of you who have had a bladder infection, edema, incontinence, urinary retention, or struggle with interstitial cystitis know what it feels like when this organ is not at ease!

Because the Bladder channel covers so much of the body other physical symptoms can arise when this organ becomes imbalanced such as problems with vision, headaches, sciatica, low energy, and low back pain.

On an equally important level is the feeling of a healthy & balanced Bladder official on an emotional and spiritual level.  Water provides fluidity and the Bladder directly effects our ability to be fluid with our thoughts and ideas. When we can be more fluid in general, we respond to external stressors in a healthier way.  When there is proper irrigation in our kingdom all the other organ systems who are trying to complete their necessary jobs can rest assured that there is enough water, safety and security for them.  The fear of survival quells and everyone in the kingdom can focus on life and vitality rather than fear of death.

This is actually a critical paragraph and one I want to elaborate more on.  The Bladder when running well gives us a sense of reserves.  Imagine living in a world where you have a pantry full of food and a garden full of fresh vegetables, a bank account with a healthy amount of "rainy day money," energy that bubbles out of you every afternoon and you desire to walk, hike, kayak, rock climb, run around with your children, sweep your lover away for a date night.  Night time sleep that is deep and restful; the overwhelming feeling that "I have enough, I can relax into life."  How often have you felt this way in the last week?  Month? Year?  As we tap into seasonal eating, knowledge about the elements, and creating a firm foundation for ourselves thru self-care and proper nutrition, we will help balance the energy of our Bladder official.