Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) encourages us to live in harmony with the seasons. According to TCM, there are five: winter, spring, summer, late summer and autumn. Each season has several facets, which help us to adapt our habits as the seasons change so that we can create better balance between our bodies and the external environment, keeping our bodies and in particular, our immune system strong, naturally maintaining our health, with less effort. In this blog and the next one, we will be sharing some simple ideas to do just this.
According to TCM, winter is connected to the element of water and the energies of Kidney and Bladder. Kidney energy is our battery pack of life. Keeping it charged up and nourished, is key to enjoying our life to the full.
This energy is seen to be connected to the inward breath and our ability to bring in life force energy. Interestingly, Yogis believe that we each have a certain number of breathes granted to us, to last the length of our life. Yogis remind us to breath slowly and deeply, to use these breaths well and not use them up too quickly.
Kidney energy issues can be diverse, from urinary tract infections to groin pain, hair loss, teeth problems, issues of growth in teeth, hair or bones, particularly in children, even breathing problems like asthma. Bladder energy issues are commonly sciatica and lower back related problems, as you may have already guessed, if you’ve skipped ahead to the meridian line diagrams.
Some specific things we can do to connect with and support our inner selves and strengthen our kidney and bladder energy, in the cooler temperatures, is to slow down and reflect on our lifestyles with practices such as meditation, writing, and more gentle forms of movement like walking, Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
1. Nurturing ourselves inwardly with meditation and visualisations can be simple:
Take a few moments now, just to picture ideas and images of your future self and the life you intend to be living in 6 months time. Like flowers in a garden, that will bloom in spring, these seeds are planted within you and will germinate when “watered” with your attention. Taking a few minutes each day to “water” these images, allows them to grow and develop quietly and organically, getting stronger each day, through focused energy, rather than being forced or pushed.
Have you noticed that at this time of the year, there is less light, and things around us, in nature, are slowing down? Winter is the best time to reflect on life and take time to allow our bodies to assimilate all we have been doing, learning and achieving through the year. Good quality, restful sleep is one of the best ways to nurture and rejuvenate our body, is crucial for good health and is when our bodies assimilate knowledge and process change.
3. Record your feelings, thoughts and dreams:
Kidney and bladder energies are all about developing trust and belief in ourselves, growing our self awareness to the point we feel confident in expressing our feelings. Maybe not to a room full of people, but to ourselves, a close friend or support group. This confidence brings with it, a sense of inner strength, peace and harmony.
By focusing on growing in these areas, by default, we set ourselves up to overcome our fears, impatience, frustrations and any sense of shame or failure we may unknowingly be carrying.
Try keeping a journal and record your feelings, thoughts and dreams. Allow all images and messages, to come to the front of your mind. Don’t judge or analyse, just write. You can always some back later and see if there are any relevant messages or repeating themes that come up for you.
4. Pay attention to words in your world:
Pay attention to what sorts of words you hear in your world. Hearing is the sense associated with winter and the water element, and it can give us a clue to where our natural strengths & blocks may be. Notice how you talk to yourself: which words hit you most strongly in a conversation, on reflection or, in a heated conversation (if you have the presence of mind).
5. Brush the kidney and bladder meridians:
Sometimes we may not get a clear sense of which emotion is holding us hostage and keeping us stuck. At these times, physically clearing our bodies, with a simple body hand brush, can make an enormous difference. The element of water, which is associated with the season of winter, is carried through our bodies through 2 channels of energy, meridian lines: kidney and bladder. Brushing our hands along either the kidney or the bladder meridians, can give an amazing sense of release and peace.
The Kidney Meridian runs from the pad of our big toe on the underside of our feet, up the inside of our legs, into the groin and up along the centre of our chest, to our collar bone, as per the diagram.
The bladder meridian, runs from the inside corner of each eye, up the forehead and around the top of the scalp, about 1cm from the centre line, down the back of the neck, about 1cm either side of the spine, beside the shoulder blades, as far down as you can reach. Begin again, reaching up your back, as far as you can, with your whole hand, coming down beside the spine, diagonally across the buttocks, to just above the crease where the leg meets the buttocks, and straight down the back of the leg, to the heal and finally along the edge of each foot, to the outside tip of the little toes.
The good news is that winter can be enjoyed by everyone if we nurture and nourish ourselves according to the natural elements of the season and listen to our body, noticing how it responds. Tune into our next blog, for more ideas on how to nurture and nourish your body with movement and simple good nutrition ideas, and enjoy this winter!