Water | winter
Welcome to Winter in Five Element Acupuncture! Winter correlates to the Water element, the most yin (dark) time of our energy cycle. Each element has two organ systems that function during its season. For the Water element that would be the Kidney & the Bladder. In addition, each element provides us challenges & gifts. The more we understand how the elements work, the better able we are to navigate through the seasons in the most helpful and healthy way for our body.
The challenge of Water is fear; the fear of the unknown and the fear as to whether we have enough resources to get us through. Without water nothing is able to live; water is vital to our growth.
The best way to get a sense of the elements is to connect it to the season it represents. Can you imagine being in a home where there isn't enough wood to keep you warm through the winter? Or not being able to access water because it's frozen? Being in freezing temperatures without warm clothing? These are real situations people face and you can quickly begin to tap into what it feels like to be fearful. Although we may not face all of these specific situations, we definitely have fears. How many times have you said, "What if?" in your head followed by something detrimental? Or "Do we have enough....?" Remember that Chinese medicine targets physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of ourselves. So the fear can be focused on something very physical, "Do I have enough firewood for the winter?" "Do I have enough money in the bank to pay the bills?" Or it can focus on the emotional/spiritual, "What if I can't open my heart again?" "What if I can't trust him/her?"
Our over-working, over-stressing, high adrenaline and over-busy lifestyles leach the energy from our Water element, leaving us fundamentally exhausted. We then reach for caffeine and sugar to help give us a fake sense of energy to push us through another moment, hour, and day. We try to forget how tired we are. I see these clients in my office daily. They speak of working multiple jobs, balancing careers and family needs, running from task to task all day.
The Water element is our pilot light; the basic source of energy for all the other elements. If your pilot light goes out you can't cook anything. It works the same in your physical body. If your Water element is deficient not only are you exhausted and pushing through, your organ systems don't have the warmth they need to work for you.
The Water element gifts us wisdom, introspection, quietness, willpower, and rest. It asks us to slow down in order to protect our reserves so that we have enough energy and health to enter into the growth of Spring. As everything outside in nature quiets, so this element asks us to do the same internally. We feel the need to sleep longer, take a nap, stay home more, slow down. If we follow this instinct instead of pushing against it, we will gift ourselves with an internal Winter. We will stockpile our reserves, recover from the hustle of Summer and the more recent holidays and be ready when Spring calls.
We also get willpower from the Water element. A tremendous gift at this time of year as we are faced with freezing temperatures, wind chills, snow storms, and dark days. It is the force and will of the Water element that helps get us through each Winter season.
Rest is necessary and it's rare that we do so. Winter asks us to take time for this essential nutrient. As farmers need a snowy Winter to have enough water for the Spring planting, our body needs rest & quiet to prepare for the growth that comes from the Wood element (Spring). Each season feeds the next one. Be wise about what your body needs this season and listen to your instincts.
The Kidney & the Bladder are the organs that make up the Water element. If you'd like to know more about what their specific roles are in Winter and how you can support them better check out the next tab!