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Winter: The Season of Water

By studying the seasonal changes over many years of living in Jacksonville, Florida, I observe the Autumn season giving way to Winter sometime in early December each year. As a Five Element acupuncture physician, I am keenly aware of how this energetic shift in the seasons marks an energetic shift in myself and my patients.

Some patients are aware of these subtle changes, and some people report a pattern of improvement or worsening of their symptoms in certain seasons of the year. I am not just referring to seasonal diseases like allergies, but how the seasons affect our overall physical health, and even our mental outlook. When I practiced acupuncture in England, during winter I saw many patients with worsening arthritis. I saw many with Seasonal Affective Disorder, due to the cold weather and lack of sunshine. In Chinese medicine, the Water Element relates to cold climate, and Fire Element’s climate is heat. In the cold and dark English winters, I observed the Water Element extinguishing those patients’ Fire.

Whether you know it or not, we are all affected by seasonal changes. Your energy patterns ebb and flow with the seasons, much like the tidal changes of the oceans. The distinct energy of each season resonates differently within you, just as it creates distinct changes in our natural world.

Each season is governed by a different Element, according to Five Element acupuncture. Autumn relates to the Metal Element, while Winter relates to the Water Element. The Water Element is reflected in all of its varied manifestations in Nature – vast seas and oceans, wide rivers and narrow streams, great lakes and little ponds, and reservoirs large and small.

It is no coincidence that our planet Earth is more than 60% water, just as our human bodies are composed of over 60% water. Let’s explore some key properties and qualities of water in Nature, which inform us of how the Water Element manifests in people.

Water is about flow, its enduring movement, and its life-giving essence to our plant and animal worlds. All living things depend on water for life itself. We can live without food for days, even weeks, but without water, we cannot survive for long. Having abundant stores of water, like when \ area reservoirs are full, provides us with a great deal of reassurance. Drought causes a great deal of worry, and can lead to scary consequences. Many of you may remember when our city endured a summer of fires in the nearby Okeefenokee swamp, and other random fires sprung up around Jacksonville.

Water vaporizes into the atmosphere, then rains down from the sky to hydrate the earth and refill our waterways. Rain water flows from the mountain tops through rivers and streams to lakes and eventually to the sea. Its movement is unceasing and unstoppable, from a babbling brook to the ocean’s currents.

Another property of water is its ability to takes the shape of whatever contains it – as liquid it is adaptable. Still another aspect of water is its depths, especially in vast seas and oceans. Water can provide clarity and serenity, like a clear still pond, where you can see your reflection. Or water can generate tremendous fear, like being at sea during a raging storm.

As the Water Element expresses itself in Nature, so it expresses itself in people. In you, Water is about your reserves and your endurance – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Willpower comes from this Element, and provides your drive to keep on keeping on. Your ability to go with the flow comes from Water, and to adapt to your surroundings. Your ability to reach the depths of thought and spiritual awareness also comes from this Element. When you feel a deep sense of peace and tranquility, it is by virtue of the calmness of your Water Element.

What happens when your Water Element gets imbalanced? If you lack the stamina or energy to keep going, or feel tired in body mind or spirit, that is a sign that your Water Element is depleted If you lack fluidity and flexibility to adapt to what life presents to you, your Water Element is showing you it is stagnant or stuck. If you experience repeated episodes of fear or anxiety, your Water Element is out of balance on the emotional level. And if you feel a sense of resignation, or a depth of depression, your Water Element needs balancing on a mental or spiritual level.

In Five Element acupuncture, the two organs and associated energy meridians of the Water Element are the Kidneys and Bladder. There are acupuncture points on these two meridians that balance you physically, and there are other points that balance you emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Since winter is the season of the Water Element, the best time of year to balance your Water is winter time. You gain a little extra energy from Water treatments during winter than at any other time of year. If after reading this article you sense your Water Element may be lacking energy, or out of balance, give yourself the best holiday gift of all – the gift of better health. Get your Water Element recharged by calling us this month for an appointment at (904) 296-9545.

By Michael Kowalski A.P., Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)
Acupuncture Physician @ Acupuncture & Holistic Health Center, Jacksonville, FL
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