Water Element in Chinese Medicine
Water is one of the Five Elements of Chinese Medicine
The Water Element is associated with Winter.
Each of the Five Elements is associated with a season:
- Water Element- Winter
- Wood Element – Spring
- Fire Element- Summer
- Earth Element – Late Summer
- Metal Element – Fall
When first learning about the elements of Chinese medicine, I found it was better to contemplate the season associated with each element, rather than memorizing a list of associations. Chinese medicine, and its theory of the Five Elements, was created thousands of years ago through careful observation of Nature.
To learn about the Water Element today, let’s think about winter:
- It’s cold
- The days are short, the nights are long
- It’s pretty still outside
- Things are not growing
- Seeds are hibernating deep below the surface
- Many animals are hibernating
- There is ice and snow
- There is stillness and quiet in comparison to being outside, active and more social in Summer (Fire)
Let’s explore the associations of the Water Element:
- Yin Organ: Kidney
- Yang Organ: Bladder
- Climatic factor: Cold
- Sense Organ: Ears
- Body Tissue: Bones
- Mind-Emotion: Fear, Peace, Creation, Will
Putting theory into practice
Chinese medicine integrates body-mind-spirit-emotion. Understanding the associations of each Element gives us the basis for practicing body-mind-spirit-emotion healing. For example, symptoms related to the bones, such as chronic, degenerative osteoarthritis, point us toward the Water Element. Symptoms related to fear, a lack of creativity, fertility issues, and an inability to be quiet, still and “in the moment” also point toward the Water Element.
Harmonize with seasons to stay healthy
As a nature-based medicine, Chinese medicine tells us that harmonizing with the seasons is a key to staying healthy. When we harmonize with the seasons, we harmonize with the Five Elements.
Adjust to winter to harmonize with the Water Element
- Sleep a little longer (the nights are longer).
- Bundle up to protect against the Cold – especially keep the lower back (kidney area) warm.
- Appreciate the incubation stage of creativity – it seems as if “nothing” is happening, yet the seeds of spring are held within the ground.
- Practice “being in the moment.” There is not so much “to do” in winter. Take time for going inward, contemplating, being quiet and inwardly thoughtful.
Observe the Water Element
Winter is the season of the Water Element. Observe what is different in the light of winter versus the light of summer. What are the birds, bugs, animals, people doing that is unique to this season? What do you feel pulled to do, or not do? The more you observe and wonder yourself, the quicker and deeper your understanding of the Water Element will be.
Wishing you plenty of quiet time to wonder and just be this winter.