Life starts with the Water Element. The flow and exchange of fluids in our mother’s womb creates our life. Water forms 71% of the Earth’s surface. The human body is made up of 60% water in males and 55% in females. The brain is about 85% water. Without Water nothing could live or grow. There would be no movement and flow; no change and transformation without Water. Any of us who have been affected by drought or floods (and that’s an increasing number of us these days unfortunately) know the importance of Water. We can survive for weeks without food; we can only survive for days without water.
Cities build reservoirs to store Water for its inhabitants. A prudent farmer builds reservoirs and irrigation systems to save water when it is available. When the reserves run low or run out we begin to understand why the emotion associated with the Water element is Fear. Fear can be appropriate when it generates action within us to survive – even after the worst earthquakes and hurricanes, people find the inner stamina and endurance to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives.
Now the ancient Chinese recognised that these external dynamics in nature occur inside of us through the Water Element…
On a physical level the Water Element governs and stores all the surplus and reserves of fluids in the body – tears/ saliva/ digestive juices/ sweat/ sexual secretions/ hormones/neurological fluids etc… When the Water Element is out of balance, every single cell in the body is affected. If there is an excess we can become swollen and suffer from oedema. If there is insufficient Water our body overheats, joints seize
Our Minds can suffer similar problems when we experience an imbalance in the Water Element. We babble with nerves or become frigid and rigid in thinking. If there is no flow in thinking, dangers and an appropriate response to it become too huge to deal with. ‘Fight or Flight’ reactions start to become the norm – life becomes exhausting!
Similarly, the Water Element gives our Spirits reserves of inner power will (Zhr) and determination to get through crises. Someone in whom the element is strong, will have enough willpower ; the person in whom this element is lacking, lives in a state of having little to no reserves to fall back on. They may have little or no will to cope with life’s challenges and become prey to fear at every turn. This strength or will is said to reside in the Kidneys (one of the two officials/pathways of the Water Element – Bladder being the other); the Kidneys are the holders of our ancestral chi or Jing. Having strong Jing creates that energy reserve that enables us to do the things we need to do to live in harmony and balance. Doing TYB in our Roots and Branches practice will help restore Jing we have depleted.
Winter is the Season associated with the Water Element.
The Winter brings stillness to nature and reminds us of the importance of stillness and reflection and to build reserves by resting. Remaining in the Kidney Yin (Ward off Left) position will promote this rest inside of us. Similarly, we want to build reserves – Remaining in Kidney Yang (Ward off Right) position will help build our storehouse of Chi/Qi.
The Water Element fortifies the bones; the ancient Chinese assigned a climate and a taste to each Season – for Winter the climate is cold and the taste is salty.
If you have a major imbalance in the Water Element you may love or detest the Winter – this may be an indication that you have an imbalance in the two officials associated with the Water Element – Bladder and Kidneys – according to the ancient Chinese there are five seasons and if we are well balanced in body mind and spirit we should feel at ease in all of the seasons. A key foundation to having a balanced Water Element is to ensure we are hydrated. The US Recommended Daily Allowance is to drink 8-10 glasses of Water.
The three key aspects of the Water Element are :
– having the will and sufficient reserves to bring us through
– having a natural flow of fluids, feelings, thoughts and emotions
– having the ability to cleanse on all levels.
Enjoy these qualities of Winter and the Water Element!