The Water Phase goes with Winter, the Time of Stillness
Water is a great healer. Think of how peaceful you feel by the oceanside, or soaking at the hot springs . . . and how restored you feel at the end of your stay.
The Water Phase of Asian Medicine represents the ability to flow through life with ease and grace. An easy, graceful, steadiness requires a tranquil nervous system and good quality rest as the ground for enabling that flow.
The WATER PHASE governs the KIDNEYS and BLADDER, as well as the hormonal and nervous systems.
The Asian medical classics say the Kidney energy (yin), which includes the adrenal glands, is that of a strong and capable minister of government who exhibits technical ability and expertise. The Bladder energy (yang) is like a local minister who works to adjust the supply and demand of water in outlying areas. In this way they work together like supervisors over all the various organs and functions.
The Water Phase of Asian medicine regulates the hormonal and nervous systems. If you are a Water-type person, when you are in balance, you are calm and even, you enjoy physical activity and are well-coordinated. You possess the energy, strength and will to persevere in your endeavors. Although you may be tired at the end of the day from working hard, you will fall deeply asleep, waking up refreshed and restored.
When you are out of balance, you may tend to overwork, and yet never finish what you start because you have a hard time finding the perseverance required to stick with it. Or, you may tend to startle easily, be timid or fearful, or exhibit excessive nervous energy. You might even be hypervigilant, over-react to things and appear to be “on your last nerve.”
The Water Phase encompasses the element of water in all its states, from steam to water to ice. The most common complaint associated with the Bladder and Kidney meridians is low back pain and stiffness. Your back “freezes up.” Headaches at the base of the skull or at the forehead are also typical. Shiatsu, or other bodywork, is an excellent remedy for such complaints. Acupuncture and chiropractic may also help. Find out what Shiatsu can do for you here.
In Asia it is common in winter to wear something warm around your belly and low back – called a hara maki – in addition to the scarf around your neck, as the low back is very vulnerable to cold.You can order then from Amazon. Check it out here.
If that does not suit you, try rubbing the area of your back around your kidneys vigorously before going out into the cold and again when you come in, just as you rub your hands together to warm them. Exercise that takes you inward and emphasizes low back health is excellent. Yoga, qigong and Alexander Technique are good choices. Or check out this YouTube instructional video on self-massage for the back.
Recommendations for the Water Phase – In winter it is best to conserve your energy by staying warm, getting good nutrition, and keeping a harmonious balance between activity and rest. And sleep is absolutely essential for maintaining health. It is common to need more sleep in the winter, so go ahead and get that nine or ten hours you’ve been needing. It’s justified!
Two types of rest are important: one is recuperative sleep, as always; the other is just as important, especially at this time of year — it is the type that does not require sleep, but quiets your whole being. It restores your soul so that you can dream the dream your spirit yearns to realize. Winter is the perfect time to read, paint, write or journal, plan your garden, etc. Any quiet creative endeavor that helps you stay “in the flow” of your true self fosters a healthy functioning Water Element. This is a good time to start or give attention to your meditation practice.
Regarding foods that are good during the Water Phase: at this time of year, you can best maintain body heat by eating a diet of mostly carbohydrates and proteins. Hearty soups and casseroles with lots of root vegetables are wonderful. Red beans, black beans, lentils and split peas are also excellent. If you use whole grains, barley and buckwheat make splendid additions that support the Water Element in this cold season. Drink lots of water and avoid too many dehydrating and stimulant drinks. Also, cold drinks (especially cold beer or soft drinks with ice) are especially harmful.
So stay cozy, rest well, eat warming food, incubate your dreams, and cultivate your true self and deep nature. Remember, snow and ice are just water in one of its forms. The thaw is coming, so don’t lose your sense of fluidity, power and freedom. You are the flower blooming through it all!