Winter & the Water Element in Five Element Acupuncture

The qualities of the Water Element in the human body/mind/spirit allow us to overcome fear, heal anxiety, and survive through the most difficult life challenges.  In Five Element acupuncture, Winter embodies the qualities of the Water Element.

Winter, Water & the Will to Survive

There are many kinds of Winters. First, there is the Winter of nature’s annual cycle, when the outer world lies dormant, and life goes under ground. There is also the Winter of our lives on the physical plane, when our life energy slows down in old age and the stillness of death approaches.  And, finally, there is Winter in the world of human affairs, when catastrophe looms and we live in terror of an unknown future. Winter is a time when survival is uncertain and times are tough.

Fear & Anxiety: The Winter of Human Affairs

Times of war and despotism threaten to destroy the basic social institutions that support our lives. Hatred and discrimination undermine the respect for human dignity that binds us as a community. The Winter of human affairs engenders fear and anxiety that cut through to the core. In the darkest of times, the future becomes unimaginable. Our very existence seems threatened.

What must we do to survive the dark times? A strong will gives us the power of endurance to carry us through, physically and emotionally. Along with the will to survive, we need the ability to draw on our deepest inner reserves. Finally, we need movement and flow to keep us from stagnating in the pollution and debris surrounding us in the era of “fake news.”

The Water Element Within: Kidney and Bladder Meridians

In Five Element acupuncture, these three qualities — survival, reserves and flow – are associated with the Water Element and the Water meridians, Kidney and Bladder. Our physical bodies are largely made of water. Proper hydration and distribution of water is essential to every metabolic process.

Physiologically, the Kidney and Bladder systems have the obvious function of filtering out impurities and disposing of liquid waste. The kidney’s function is crucial to maintaining proper blood composition and fluid distribution throughout the body. If the kidneys begin to fail, the entire body becomes backed up with excess fluid (edema) and toxins. The consequences are catastrophic for the organism, and can be fatal.

Five Element acupuncture treats not just the physical organs of Kidney and Bladder, but the entire energy system associated with them.  A healthy Water Element allows us to maintain an appropriate flow, wash away debris and cleanse the mind.  Along with the Colon meridian, it helps us dispose of toxins we may have picked up during the day.  Fake news, negative political campaigns, or perhaps just a harsh word from your boss can leave imprints that need to be filtered out and let go.

The Water meridians also give us the ability to maintain reserves and draw on them when needed.  This helps us to pull us through when we are threatened, beaten down or having a bad day.

Fear, Anxiety and the Water Element

Water, of all the Five Elements, is most vital to survival. We can not live more than a few days without it. At the same time, any imbalance in water supply is dangerous. The greatest catastrophes in the natural world are created by an excess or deficiency of water. Floods, tsunamis, and storm surges result in death and destruction on a massive scale. Drought is equally disastrous, causing desertification, failed crops and starvation.

Fear is the emotion associated with the catastrophic threats of Water imbalance. Fear is an instinctive response to threat. It impels us to remove ourselves from danger. When we feel threatened, the “fight or flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system kicks in. The inner flow of Water energy in the psyche is disrupted. We may feel frozen in place, like a deer in the headlights. Or, we may bolt in a panic.

Unfortunately, an imbalance in the Water meridians may leave a person stuck in “fight or flight.”   The person may live in a constant state of alarm. One can only imagine the anxiety and distress caused by non-stop panic, much less the physiological wear-and-tear that can result from such stress. Reserves are depleted, with no way to replenish them.

Fear, Anxiety and Consumer Culture

Tragically, we are all the more assaulted by fear in modern consumer culture, further stressing the Water Element on a societal level. Fear garners attention and sells. One only need look with a discerning eye to see the many ways that news media, advertising and politicians deliberately manipulate our fears. Usually, the goal is to sell us a product or sell us a set of ideas. There is no regard for the psychic cost.   Anxiety is needlessly created in so many people for base ends. No wonder this vital aspect of the body/mind/spirit is so frequently worn down, and anxiety is such a common modern-day complaint.

The Antidote to Fear and Anxiety

No matter how healthy our lives may be, and how supportive our family and friends, we all face times in life when we feel overwhelmed. We fear for the future and wonder how we can survive. The qualities of the Water Element – survival, reserves and flow – carry us through.

Treatment with Five Element acupuncture can balance and restore the Water meridians. Acupuncture helps to pull the person out of “fight or flight,” ease the mind and bring rest and comfort to body and spirit. Strength and will are restored, empowering us to endure through dark times.

Winter does not last forever. A robust Water element gives us the will to survive and the wisdom to know that light and life always return.