In Chinese Medicine the vocabulary of winter is stillness, depth, silence, contraction, inertia. Nature returns inwards, stilling itself; although it might look lifeless this is actually a potent time of storage, nurture and preparation for the bursting forth of spring. There is an obvious comparison between the hibernation in nature and the isolation that has been enforced on us by lockdown. Enforced lockdown is obviously not a natural state but, since we are prisoner to both the season and Government restrictions, we may find some consolation in the fact that our lack of movement over the next few weeks resonates deeply with nature. If there is one word that, for me, evokes the season of winter in Chinese Medicine, it is ‘surrender’.

The element associated with winter is Water. The most yin of the elements, the nature of water is to flow, to take the form of whatever contains it but also to either flow around or break down over time what lies in its path. Within us, the Water element is experienced both as a will, an ability to flow, to move through life with courage, purpose and the ability to remove obstacles from our path, but also an appropriate level of fear which makes us able to proceed cautiously, having assessed risks

The Kidneys and the Bladder are the organs which belong with the Water element. They play a role in fluid regulation in Chinese Medicine in a physical sense but these channels might be used by an acupuncturist in order to ‘fill up the reserves’ of the person in a more spiritual or emotional way. The Kidneys have a special role in Chinese Medicine in that they are believed to store our
‘Jing’, our vital essence, which controls our constitution, birth, growth and development and provides us with the driving force, will and courage, to move through life.

When our water element is out of balance and we are draining our Kidney and Bladder – collectively our Water reserves, an acupuncturist will see symptoms such as lower back and/or knee pain, frequent urination, menstrual issues, tiredness, anxiety, insomnia, lack of drive and low mood.