After a mild autumn, winter hit with a bang. This winter has been full of frosty mornings and rainy days. Chinese medicine associates winter with the Water element, Kidney Qi, the colour blue and the emotion of fear.
Kidney Qi is heightened during the winter months and is primarily responsible for the conservation of Jing-Essence or vitality, the energetic resource necessary for growth, development and reproduction.
While functionally the Kidney is responsible for assisting in the transformation of fluids its energetic responsibility is much more profound. In Chinese medicine the inherent purpose of the Kidney is to store or contain. It is the place we pull from when we feel we have nothing left. It’s where we find our intuition, our genius, our persistence and our resolve.
The Kidney energetic is said to house the Zhi or “will”
This is what encourages us to be true to ourselves and gives us the strength to stand up for what we believe in. It has been described by some as “the pilot light that ignites the fire of life”, connecting us to our unlimited potential and returning us to our original nature.
Fear is the emotion associated with winter and the Water element. When our Kidney Qi is balanced within us fear is a healthy emotion, keeping us alert to our surrounding, prompting us to take action and keeping us safe. When we are imbalanced fear can manifest in a variety of ways.
At one end of the spectrum fear manifests as being overly cautious, constantly looking for danger, and planning for negative outcomes. This state of being constantly “switched on” is exhausting and can end in a state of paralysing anxiety and eventually paranoia.
Fearlessness and risky behaviour lies at the other end of the spectrum. This manifests as a drive to succeed to the detriment of all others, bullying, and an over inflated view of one’s ability to succeed. “Fear is the underlying motive of all the defensive manoeuvres of the ego”- A H Almass, Philospher
Trust is the opposing force to fear. There is conditional trust, a trust we give when we have assessed that a situation has nothing to fear, and there is basic trust. This is the trust we see in very small children before they have learnt to fear, the trust there is goodness in the world and that whatever the outcome we will ultimately be alright. Choosing to trust takes courage. With many unbalanced people in the world it is wise to use caution. However not trusting anyone perpetuates fear. By trusting others it encourages them act with honesty and integrity. Looking after the Kidney Qi it will make it easier to live from trust and transform fear into wisdom.
The modern way of life has a tendency to create an imbalance in the Kidney Qi. We often overwork and find it hard to disconnect . We have been taught to fear the unknown and trust needs to be earnt. This can add additional stress to our already stressful lives. To survive in this environment, it helps to be mindful. A simple meditation can help to calm a busy mind. Or if the idea of formal meditation is too much, simply gazing into a fire (if you have one!) or a lit candle, or even just lying down and breathing deeply into the belly can help achieve a state of relaxation and contemplation.
Other ways of supporting the Kidney Qi during the winter months include doing gentle exercise such as yoga and going to bed early. Keeping the feet and lower back well covered helps to protect the Kidney externally while staying hydrated and incorporating things like bone broth into your diet will help to nourish the Kidney internally.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have many excellent ways to nourish the Kidney Qi. If you are feeling tired and run down now is the time seek treatment or at the very least pop in and pick up some of our Winter Warmer or Spirit Nourishing stock packs. Give your Kidneys some love this winter.