Winter is a season that definitely affects us and while it’s now coming to an end, we’re still very much in a period where many women are feeling physically and emotionally out of balance. What can assist with this and help you to come out of the winter rut feeling alive and vibrant?
As a little background information regarding the very basics of TCM, the Chinese revolve their lives around 5 seasons: Summer, Late Summer, autumn, Winter and Spring. These are respectively represented by the 5 elements; fire, earth, metal, water and wood. Each element has a corresponding yin organ (vital) and a yang organ. Each element is represented by a colour, taste, sound, emotion, muscle and food.
Winter is a time when nature appears to be dormant. Everything is dark and resting. All appears to be frozen and still. It’s a time where humans traditionally retire indoors and, by nature, are forced to turn their attention inwards. For some this can create fear. Winter is represented by the water element in TCM as the depth and darkness of the ocean encourages us to explore the depths and darkness of our internal being.
In Chinese medicine the water element is responsible for the kidneys and bladder meridians. TCM define meridians an energy pathway where the body’s vital energy or Qi flows. Any blockages in these energy pathways can lead to physical, emotional and biochemical dis-ease.
The Kidney Meridian is considered the “Root of Life” because it houses our life force which was given to us from our parents at conception. It is responsible for our vital energy and hence from a Chinese medicine perspective, is crucial to maintain their health. Although this meridian is named after kidneys, it is also responsible for our adrenal glands (which physically sit on top of the kidneys). The kidney system also includes what the Chinese call the ‘external kidneys’; the testicles in men and the ovaries in women, therefore is very important in sexual vitality. It also controls the growth and development of bone and marrow, which the Chinese consider to also include the brain and the spinal cord.
The Urinary Bladder Meridian is considered the “Minister of the Reservoir” because of its ability to excrete waste products. This meridian is associated with the autonomic nervous system as well. Stress and tension play a key part when bladder chi out of balance
What does the water element have to offer us?
The Chinese honour the water element as it is a shape shifter for its ability to adapt to the hardness of life by yielding. It does this by its ability to flow around obstacles and by not being hard and rigid. The power of water gives us the flexibility and fluidity for movement. It helps us to adapt to life and whatever life throws at us without a need to control or manipulate outcomes.
Water element is characterised by:
Odour – putrid
Sound – Groan
Colour – BLUE
Senses – ears
Tissues – Bones
Emotion – Fear/anxiety (imbalance – lowest expression)
Climate – cold
Virtue or highest expression when in balance is Wisdom and Will – the wisdom which comes from trusting our innate knowing and our will – our powerhouse or our potential to get us through life. It’s our will, courage and instincts that help determine our life’s purpose.
What creates imbalances in the water element particularly in winter?
As the Chinese live in accordance with the seasons, they believe that in winter, like nature, we need to retreat and rest. Therefore the water element encourages us to adopt a resting lifestyle in these months. However, the modern busy lifestyle of our western society, sees us continuing the high energy that we adopt in the summer/autumn months. The inability to rest leaves women in particular quite out of balance as they push through, without the needed rest, in these months. This failure to rest, as nature does, results in many women feeling tired, exhausted, emotionally and nutritionally deficient (Vitamin D in particular) and just generally out of sorts.This is why it’s so important in winter to conserve the energy that we have harvested from the busy summer and autumn months.
Symptoms we may experience as a result of an imbalanced water element include:
Lower back pain
Problems with urinary retention/Urinary tract infections
Sexual dysfunction – impotency, lack of excitement, premature ejaculation, vaginal dryness
Anxiety and fear
High blood pressure/headaches in the occiput
How can I support winter element and kidneys and bladder meridian during winter?
The following tips can help to ensure that we support the Kidney and Bladder meridians and maintain a health balanced water element in the winter months.
- Eating warming foods – cooked foods not raw.
- Keeping warm is essential to retain our vital force – Chinese love to keep kidneys warm.
- Sitting in morning or afternoon sun without sunglasses to ensure we restore our Vitamin D.
- No cold drinks – maintain thermal warmth of our internal organs.
- Rising with the sun and resting and retiring early at night.
- Warm baths – immersing in the water element.
- Performing softer Yin gentle activities like yoga and walks in the sun or meditating.
- Spending time resting not being too busy.
- Essential oils – Geranium, juniper, and ginger can be extremely warming either massaged on the body or in a bath or through an essential oil burner or vaporiser.
Geranium[i] – It may also help with healing distrust. Due to its cooling property, may also assist with hot flushes or feeling hot at night.
Juniper berry – promotes warmth and kidney yang energy. It is also a diuretic and thus supports bladder meridian. Juniper Berry benefits chronic tiredness, cold hands/feet lower, back ache and oedema. It also has a fortifying potential and is linked to strengthen the kidney’s will.
Ginger – has tonifying effect on kidney yang energy so it is helpful for backache especially associated with muscle pain. It can also act as a sexual tonic and may support impotence or sexual frigidity. Ginger also effects the will enhancing the vital fire we need to get through life.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above or if you are feeling generally afraid and anxious, a kinesiology session will help to restore balance in your overall life and see you approach the upcoming vibrant months with energy, optimism and ready to tackle anything life has to offer.
[i] Aromatherapy for Healing The Spirit, Gabriel Mojay