Nourishing Ourselves During Winter- The Wisdom of Water.
This time of year in Shiatsu and Chinese medicine terms is linked to the element of water. It is a time to find ways to really replenish, rest and gently stimulate ourselves in nurturing ways during the colder weather. The organs associated with water are the kidney and the bladder. Kidney energy would be seen to be strongest during the winter months. The kidney is the source of both yin and yang in the body-that balance between control, stillness and going with the flow. The kidneys in Chinese medicine terms are considered the foundation for good health and vitality, essentially the root of everything. Kidneys are responsible for fluid balance, waste elimination, regulation of blood PH and mineral balance. They also play an important role in red blood cell production. Kidneys govern life force in the body- our drive and our motivation for life. Kidney energy in shiatsu terms is related to survival, reproduction and curiosity. This energy goes towards life and people who are full of life and are quite driven generally have strong kidney energy. This is a good thing as long as it is really balanced with rest so we don’t burn out. Too much stimulation of the kidneys without balance over time can lead to adrenal fatigue. We learn so much from both stillness and movement. Life is all about balance.
When kidney energy is healthy and in flow, life feels adventurous, spontaneous and we can embrace the energy of the now with curiosity and openness. If we feel anxious in some way, we will deplete our kidney energy so it is important to deal with our inner fears so we don’t block spontaneity. Face your fears to overcome them. The book ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ is worth recommending. Blocking spontaneity blocks kidney energy and embracing spontaneity and playfulness by not taking life too seriously, being lighthearted, finding things that we love and bring us joy supports our kidneys. Keeping a perspective on things keeps kidney energy healthy and flowing. There is a sense of going with the flow, which is what water does. When we have healthy energy, it’s a bit like a river flowing… we move along and embrace change. The river may have slower, stiller points or points with more movement but it always embraces change and goes towards the sea- this is the nature of our lives and a good metaphor for it. If a river becomes too stagnant or gets too stuck, that can result in a lot of stagnant, murky energy and is when illness occurs. As we age, weakened kidneys will result in reduced energy, declining hormone levels, impaired brain function, bone weakness, hearing loss, loose teeth, weakened immunity, tissue dryness and diminishing will power. It is so important to nourish our kidney energy at every stage of our lives and keep them strong. Signs of a weakened kidney energy would be diabetes, high blood pressure, obstruction of urine flow and other kidney diseases.
Things that lead to kidney problems are things like poor diet, poor exercise and exposure to certain toxins. We nurture our kidney energy by getting a good balance between rest and activity. The adventure of stimulation and movement, which is linked to our kidney yang energy, needs to be balanced with kidney yin, which is nourished through stillness, resting, being kind and loving to yourself and avoiding overstimulation. This balances kidney energy and maintains good health. Kidney energy is most expressed in our bones and in our teeth. Kidney energy is also linked to the health of our knees and our pelvis. When we have good kidney energy, our reactions are quick and our energy is abundant and free. Tuning into our kidneys throughout the day and seeing how they feel, bringing a calming breath and love to them and also placing a hot water bottle or nicely warmed hands on our kidneys and sending them lots of love and care and visualizing them as being plump and healthy is also incredibly nourishing and supportive for our kidneys.
To nourish the kidneys from a nutritional perspective we need a wide and varied diet in particular foods that come from the water element such as fish or seaweed and seeds. Salty flavored foods generally nourish the kidneys along with dark coloured foods such as black or red beans. Other foods that nourish our kidneys are Miso, cultured vegetables, millet and dark green leafy vegetables. This time of year it is important to eat warm and really nourishing foods, things like hearty, homemade soups, stews etc. are really supportive of our body during the colder months. Too much raw food when it is cold outside in Chinese medicine terms is seen to be very demanding of our body and can deplete our energy, which only makes sense. Get a good balance, warm yourself up and nurture your kidneys. You deserve to give yourself that loving care.