Winter/Water, the Kidney/Bladder Element

In physiology, through TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), the Water Element represents the kidney, urinary tract, bones, and hearing and is expressed in deficiency or overabundance by dry or oily skin appearance. Our lack of energy, sexual desire, and a weakening of our bones are related to the Winter Element. Psychologically “Water” manifestations include fear, causing hardened skin, tears, or indications in any liquids that are escaping our body. These descriptions originate from 3000 years of study. They have been poeticized, fused with witchcraft abused by religion, and many vague interpretations have further swayed from a simple understanding of a rather simple ancient wisdom.

The accumulative information of TCM scriptures available today shows that the knowledge about the Water element is methodical all the same. Today we can teach a younger generation about water viscosity, density, conductivity, and its thermal properties, and pretty much every child (should) knows that water consists of three atoms; one hydrogen and two oxygen, which turns into a gas (vapor) when heated and expands when frozen – this knowledge, not as scientifically refined as we present it today, has been described in astonishing parallels in ancient times. As fluid as science admits to being today, discoveries bring us deeper into fractions of details and allow us to find subliminal connections to all essence that is life.

Kidney water / winter element in TCM is blue

Yes, all life on earth rests upon the same foundation; a four-letter genetic alphabet – spelling out a repertoire of three-letter words – that specify 20 amino acids, the components of DNA, and their molecular interpreters. From my abstract simplification, I’d like to claim that a mere fact persists with (or without) all the knowledge: All matter is connected.

Life is more than simply science. Standing on the oceanfront, your arms stretched out, inhaling the moistened air, and hearing the breaking sounds of waves crashing can evoke a sensation beyond physiological wisdom… Is such a “feeling” real too?

We tend as humans to need poetry; even a brilliant scientist will escape into a subliminal stimuli reality, accepting that what positively arouses our brain can affect our physical existence. (I’m currently living with a virologist – debating this very unscientific quandary).

We enjoy “reality-distractions” like horoscopes, theater, music, and novels, art, circus, and religion – all to entertain and expand our creative archive – Creating a cognitive mixture of real and surreal that cannot be separated from our realities; like biological facts, limited by our irreversibility of time, social politics, juggling laws, living in society and the scientific compelling (or ignored) discoveries.  We are a unique limited being, self-affirmed we all could be a genius, outliving expectations but unable to get along: It is not the science that creates our struggles on earth; it is the “reality-distractions” by which we segregate individuality because we tend to refuse to be alike. Yet, we are made of merely twenty amino acids

I enjoy poetical comparisons of science with my perception of living amongst each other: A drop of water is harmless until united. It can hurl its power in the form of hurricanes, tsunamis, and tidal waves.

In TCM, the power of winter is the power of emphasis: it emphasizes the essence of life. Water, when frozen, is hard, stagnant, and encapsulates, preserves – until spring changes the climate and liberates all movement.

kidney and urinary tract belong to the water TCM elementWater representing Winter invites us to hibernate through meditation, containment, concentration, and storing our energy. This is the season for resting and maintaining our reserves, gathering strength for the year ahead. If we don’t follow nature, we will become ill, weak, and tired. We must be less active this season, conserving our sexual energy, going to bed early, and sleeping late. Like seedlings that cannot sprout until the earth has regained sufficient strength, our ideas and physical wellbeing is jeopardized if our energy is dispersed or uninterruptedly drained.

Winter is a time of stillness, quietude, and recovery. We call it the most yin of the seasons: The sunny days are shorter, work should be limited, time should be used to bond, cuddle, be still, and eat less. The energy of winter is latent and potent: In this state of resting deep within, energy is collected and held in constraint; Abundant reserves within give us courage and strength of will.

As the days become warmer and brighter with the approach of spring, nature opens her eyes from the slumber of winter and looks to the new growth cycle that lies ahead.

If we have followed nature’s way and rested through winter, we will emerge with restored energy, clear vision, and a sense of purpose. We are prepared for Spring, the element representing Wood, Liver, strength.

TCMchef Raphael


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