In the Adelaide Hills where I live, the winter rains have come at last, plucking the final leaves from the deciduous trees. There are still warm days, but it is clear we are enjoying the last of them. Winter is waiting in the wings, ready to spread out across the landscape like spilt water.
For some this can be a difficult transition if it brings with it a foreboding of the chilly days and long cold nights to come, and an unwillingness to let go of the bright days of autumn. For others the transition to winter is welcome, a time to hunker down at home in front of a warm fire with a good book and an early bed, shutting out the world and retreating indoors.
During this transition between autumn and winter, the Metal and Water Elements dance with each other as cold days intersperse themselves in the last of the autumn warmth. We cannot ignore the sun as it dips lower and lower towards the horizon, heading for its rendezvous with the winter solstice. We reach for scarves, vests, extra layers and think of splitting wood for fires.
Before I began working with the Elements, I hated winter with a passion. I dreaded the cold and the dark and the faint depression that descended. But gradually I have come to see the rightness of the season, learned to accept nature’s invitation to go inside. The more we can rest and rejuvenate in this time, the more our internal batteries will be charged in readiness for the next round.
Take up nature’s invitation and use this transition period to prepare for turning within. Secure the house against the cold winter winds; pare back your schedule to allow for early nights; stock up on books, movies, jigsaws, knitting or whatever keeps you comfortable indoors. Emulate the trees and drop the extraneous from your life. Prepare for the descent.
Sea of Qi – Conception Vessel 6
This point is located two fingers width below the navel. It lies in the area known variously as the hara, the dan tien, the k’ath and the belly centre. As the name Sea of Qi suggests, it provides access to a reservoir of Qi.
Here is a practice that will serve you well during the winter months, a practice that gathers Qi from the breath and stores it in the kidneys. Place one palm over CV 6 and then place the other palm over it. As you breathe in, imagine you are gathering the Heavenly Qi with your breath and drawing it down into the area under your palms. As you breathe out, retain the gathered Qi. Continue breathing mindfully, adding to your store of Qi with each breath. This practice warms and energises the body yet can be deeply relaxing. It is a great aid for going to sleep. At the deepest level, the practice will strengthen the Kidney Qi and support you through the winter.
Next time we will begin exploring acupoints of the Bladder and Kidney meridians, the channels of the Water Element whose season is winter.