Winter is upon us. (Well, at least most of us). Technically we still have a couple weeks to go but I know my body has moved energetically into the water element, the element of Winter.
As you may know, each season has an associated element and with each element we are given powerful lessons and medicine to improve our health and awaken our spirit.
Our health is beyond just what we eat and the exercise that we do. It is also our emotional landscape and the beliefs that we hold.
Each season we are allowed the opportunity to gain a new perspective and understanding of ourselves. Like peeling away layers of an onion, we get closer and closer to Truth...to Source...to True Selves.
In Chinese medicine, we believe that all imbalances and disease are in most cases rooted primarily in an imbalance of energy and emotion. This will eventually manifest into the physical.
The “negative” emotions of the Water element are fear and anxiety. When you feel anxious and your fears rule you, you begin a cycle of fear, tension, and pain that can wreak havoc on the body. This stagnates the natural flow in the body.
Peaceful introspection turns to phobic fears; calmness becomes pathological detachment and dissociation; resilience turns to constant low-level fatigue or exhaustion; integrity turns to rigid belief patterns.
If the energetic imbalance in the Water element continues, it begins to block physical functioning as well, and symptoms such as lower back pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, vertigo, dizziness, high blood pressure, occipital headaches, infertility, lack of excitement, vaginal dryness, premature ejaculation, hearing problems, tooth loss and problems with urinary retention begin to occur.
The medicine for an imbalance in the Water element is trust, faith and surrender.
Allowing ourselves to simply be still and quiet, containing our energy within ourselves, is to stand in the energy of the Water element. Living in a society of continual striving and exertion, we expect instant results and immediate answers. But nature has another idea: everything to its season. Within nature are already all the answers, we just have to be quiet enough to listen and be empty enough to be filled.
When we follow this natural rhythm of life, we are given all that we need. We will have all the energy we need for Spring and the creation of goals. We are also given the health we desire because Winter truly is a time to rest and repair.
Here are some practical tips on how to align yourself to Water element:
Drink enough water. Sounds easy but many people forget to drink when it’s cold outside. Room temperature or warm beverages are best. You want to avoid sodas, coffee, juice, milk and alcohol as much as possible as it requires digestion. Water purely hydrates you.
Eat blue, purple, and black foods. These foods are associated with the Water element, and, not surprisingly, modern research has shown that the anthocyanins that give them their color concentrate in the kidney and brain. These anthocyanins have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and atherosclerosis and have protective effects against age-related neuronal and behavioral declines.
Eat warming foods. Now is not the time of morning smoothies or daily salads.
Avoid added sugars. Sugars interfere with the absorption of anthocyanins. Added sugars have also been directly linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver cirrhosis and dementia, among other chronic health problems.
Get more rest. This is nature’s season for rest, repair, and regeneration—a phase important for our next cycle of growth. Try to rise and fall with the sun.
Quit your addiction to being busy and schedule in time for contemplation. The winter season is an especially good time to begin the practice of meditation.