The water element is associated with the season of Winter. It’s the time of year when things are slowing down, getting quiet and going inward within themselves. Winter is all about survival, gathering nourishment for the birth ahead. It is the most predominantly yin time of year, as the days get shorter, darker and slower. The climate associated with the water element is cold and the direction is north. During the winter, energy is held in reserve, just the essentials remain, “the bare bones of nature”. Everything comes down to the level of the essence - the Emperor’s Garden will look just the same as the Peasant’s Garden. In nature, we see the energy returning to the roots of trees and plants, being conserved and nourished to burst forth in the spring ahead. The power of the water element is emphasis, everything we are left with is essential.
The body part associated with the water element is the bones. They are the most predominantly yin part of us due to their density. Water keeps us fluid and flexible. Our joints need the lubrication and cleansing that water offers. In the winter, traditionally, animals and humans alike stay inside more, turning inward within themselves, reflecting and posing questions such as, “What do I want for myself in the future?”. The water element has its essence built into its physical qualities, as we can see our reflection when we look into the water. Our modern world leads us to fighting against the winter season a bit, we still have to go out to work, participate in a variety of activities and be interactive with others. Unfortunately, when we fight against nature and the season of winter, we can’t build up our reserves to prepare for that birth in spring. It is important to consider building a little winter in our lives, perhaps not going out in the midst of storms, being a bit less social and getting a bit more sleep.
JR describes the water element as the most elusive and impenetrable. Some of the attributes associated with the water element are trust, will and determination. We have the knowledge that spring will come and new growth will follow. We then gather and conserve our energy and our reserves in the winter time, by going inward, with the strength to move forward, knowing life will go on. Fear is the emotion associated with the water element. Fear comes in many guises including fear of not having enough or fear that we will be drowned or fear that one cannot meet life’s challenges. Water has many qualities: solid, liquid or gas. It has no container of its own, no shape of its own. It flows and fills whatever is there for it to flow through and fill. Overtime, water even shapes the earth. Water has three aspects that can be likened physically and energetically within the being: reserves, flow and cleansing. Water is life giving and life taking. It can be a trickling stream or a tsunami. It holds the qualities of being awe inspiring and terrifyingly powerful. Water has a way of cleansing and washing away physically and energetically. Water is necessary for all of the earth and its creatures to survive. Humans are made of huge amounts of water, especially our brains. We die very quickly without water in our system.
When the water element is out of balance within us, we can appear frozen, terrified of life, wide-eyed, covering our fear with laughter or smiling, phobias, without boundaries - flooding everything in one’s path, low reserves, fearlessness, and overwhelming energy. The water element out of balance can appear as though one is constantly seeking reassurance. Balance of the water element is key fear can be crippling, but fearlessness can be deathly. We must remember that we are not meant to live off adrenaline, this leads to us being a super person and eventually burning out. Physically, we can experience arthritis or stiffness in our limbs, especially on the yang side of the body. Gout as well as kidney and gallbladder stones are indicative of the body being unable to cleanse itself to leave behind what we no longer need, in order to move forward and prepare of the new year. Living seasonally allows us to come into ourselves in winter, reflect upon our path and restore our essence before the demands of spring.
The sound associated with the water element is groaning, the sound of glaciers moving, the sound of exhaustion, monotone with no energy reserves to rise up in the voice. The color of the water element is blue, but it should be noted that water has no color of its own, it remains colorless, but takes on the reflection of the sky. It can vary from light and twinkly to dark and dull. The water on our planet is linked to the moon, the moon controls the cycles of the tides. When we think about qualities of the ocean and the water element, it is an obvious correlation that the taste associated is salty. Within our own beings, water has many cycles as well. The water needs to be in flow. When water is stagnant, dysfunction can occur, hence the associated smell of putrid.
The Officials associated with the water element are the Bladder and Kidneys. The Bladder, the yang organ, is in charge if Storage of Water and has a descending energy. The Kidneys are the yin organ, the Official of Waterways, controlling the reserves of water. The energy of the kidneys is ascending. Every part of our bodies needs water. The Bladder meridian is by far the longest in the body and carries the energy of water throughout the whole being. Water gives us the capacity to go with the flow of life, taking different turns and different directions. The water element is present with us when we are born as we are born out of water. The water element is also associated with our Jing Qi or ancestral qi or Essence, which is stored in the kidneys.
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