In previous posts I’ve written about how the winter months are the time of Water – the element that is associated with the Kidneys and thus related to our deepest reserves and resources and energetically, the ability to flow even when things appear murky by connecting with our deepest will.
And although the weather may be getting warmer outside, the Water element is still the prevalent energy in our lives.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Water is the essence of life. Water makes it possible for all of the other elements to function properly and is the first place to check when your body is chronically out of balance.
These are precisely the words many of my patients are choosing to describe how they are feeling at the moment – a little (or a lot) out of balance. One of my friends said to me the other day: I don’t want to get out of bed.. can’t someone else do my life today?
And relating these feelings back to the Water element, the emotions most commonly associated with an imbalance of Water are dread, fear and anxiety. When we feel anxious and our fears rule us, we begin a cycle of fear, tension, and sometimes physical pain. We may become absent minded, even isolated and detached and no matter how exhausted we feel, often these feelings transfer into the night, preventing us from having a restful night’s sleep.
Furthermore in recent months we’ve witnessed Mother Nature wreaking havoc with fires, earthquakes and mudslides. There’s been a foreboding fear of war in the world. And in this country we’re experiencing a time of great uncertainty.
The world is feeling unsettled. Many of us are feeling ungrounded and living each day in ‘fight or flight’ mode and if the energetic imbalance in the Water element continues, it can cause physical symptoms such as lower back pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, vertigo, dizziness, and high blood pressure.
In Chinese Medicine we don’t separate the mind and the body. By treating the Kidney energy, we correct emotional imbalances associated with the Water Element and by addressing emotional issues associated with the Water Element, we enhance the Kidney energy.
On a physical level, there are many foods that nourish the Kidney energy such as beans, as they are seeds and have new life potential. The colors blue and black correspond to the Kidney element, so blueberries and blackberries are recommended. Purple, blue and black 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.
Also pumpkin seeds, black sesame seeds, walnuts, eggs, millet and green leafy vegetables. Since salty is the flavor that correlates with the Water element, foods such as sea salt, miso and tamari are also beneficial for the Kidneys.
The primary function of the Kidney is to store and regulate our essence – the foundation of Blood and Qi, which is the energy we have available to us in our day to day activities. Also Kidney Yin and Yang emanates from the Kidneys, energies that nourish our body fluids, lubricate our joints, and provide warmth and movement in our bodies.
Emotionally the Kidneys are the seat of our “Will” and some would say our spiritual destiny. When the Kidneys are out of balance fear will arise and we often leave our bodies energetically and find shelter in our minds. Here we feel anxious, disconnected and seek solutions to these states, rather than reconnecting to our bodies.
Deep breathing, yoga, therapies such as cranio sacral therapy and reiki, acupuncture, herbs, nature walks, ocean walks, journaling, healthy sleep patterns – all these practices can help us calm our minds and reset our nervous systems so we can feel ourselves more fully again.
I’ve been hearing many patients say “but I can’t relax with all that’s going on the world”. I would like to propose the notion that it’s the story the mind creates about what’s happening in the world that is so hard to accept. When we reconnect with our deepest selves within our bodies (the seat of our Will in our Kidneys) we don’t feel so swayed by the world – quite the opposite, we feel excited to be contributing that which is most precious within us: bringing into the world our own unique contribution and creativity!