At the launch of my books at Ngeringa in the Adelaide Hills last week, I talked about ways that we can use the winter to support our Water Element. For those who couldn’t make that talk, and as a reminder for those who did, here are some ways to strengthen your Water this winter.
Winter is the time of the Great Yin. Qualities of the yin polarity include darkness, depth, moistness, cold, receptivity and stillness. Our modern, productivity-oriented world tends not to value such qualities, rather driving us to year-round yang behaviour. While this posture is supported in the yang half of the year (spring and summer), if we do not adapt to the yin energy of winter, we need a lot of effort to keep going at full speed. Failure to heed nature’s rhythms is one of the reasons that there is so much sickness in the winter.
Unless you live at the equator, winter nights are always longer than those in summer. Where I live there are almost 5 hours more darkness at the winter solstice compared to the summer solstice. More time to sleep! Going to bed earlier will save on your energy bills and also allow you to generate more personal energy. An extra hour of sleep in the winter nights will deeply support your Water. Then, when the spring comes, you’ll have much more petrol in your tank to fuel new plans and projects.
If you’re spending more time in bed, you’ll need to take one or two things off your To Do list. Otherwise you’ll be cramming more into less space. Whether it’s turning down the invitation to a party or turning off the computer and TV earlier, do less and turn into bed.
The Kidneys are the yin organs of the Water Element. When external cold penetrates the body it injures the Kidneys, so it is really important to avoid cold invasion. Wearing a hat and a scarf are good. Also, make sure your lower back and abdomen are well rugged up. Keep your shirt tucked in and wear extra layers where necessary. The Japanese have a garment called a haramaki or belly warmer designed to warm the abdomen and lower back. You can also warm yourself by putting a hot water bottle or heating pack on your tummy just below the navel.
The movement of the Water Element is inward, and indeed the long winter nights invite introspection. Sit by a fire looking into the flames, or if you don’t have a fire, look into candle flames. Fire gazing is a deeply relaxing activity and allows us to contact the less conscious parts of ourselves. Belly breathing meditation is also a great way to go inside. What’s more, by breathing into the belly centre (also known as the hara or lower dan tien) you can accumulate Qi which is then stored in the Kidneys. You warm yourself at the same time as filling your personal petrol tank.
Two acupoints that are very supportive of Kidney and the Water are the source point (Kidney 3) and shu point (Bladder 23) of Kidney. Here are links to those points from previous winter blogposts.
Next time I will share a meditation that deeply supports the Kidneys, the Water Element and the Central Channel. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the winter season.