Procrastinating by watching another cat video? Reaching for another cookie? Stop! Understanding your Water element can help you be creative AND regulate your behavior!
As we wrote in our previous article, Five Elements theory rests on the idea that all phenomena in the universe derive from the movement and interactions of Five Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Five Elements theory drives Chinese medicine’s understanding of physiology, pathology, diagnosis, treatment, and pharmacology.
Five Elements theory was derived by observing nature and applied to ensuring longevity and a healthy life!
We begin our journey with Water. It is a great starting point because, according to the Chinese Medicine seasonal calendar, Winter begins in November, and Water is the element associated with Winter.
Quick Note: Throughout this article we will mention Jing Qi. This Qi is created for the body during conception and stored in the Kidneys throughout one’s life. It is an essential form of Qi for the body but is finite! You can never add more Jing Qi! The goal is to draw on other forms of Qi for day-to-day survival to protect your store of Jing Qi. Water is associated with Jing Qi and can draw down on its reserves, as you will read!
Water Wants to Do
To begin to understand the Chinese concept of Water, think about a flowing river. When the river flows strong with water, it powers through rock and seeps across wide valleys, going wherever it wants to go. It has its own reality, doing what it wants. Most importantly, water wants to move!
Think of Water in nature, it constantly changes, adapting and shifting with changes in the environment: snow topped mountains, delicate snow flakes, frozen icicles, cascading water falls, soft flowing rivers, destructive hurricanes, flooding monsoons, and more. Water wants to do, cracking rocks as it freezes and thaws, eroding mountain sides as a receding glacier, and melting and calving as an iceberg responding to a warming planet Earth.
In humans, deep philosophical ideas spring from water’s drive to explore and flow freely. At the same time, the most concrete of all human experiences stems from water – survival. Without Water, we die. Water relates to survival in another way according to Chinese medicine by connecting to the very essence of the beginning and end of fertility – the Jing.
Water wants to have its own way, following its whims. Have you ever procrastinated and put off important tasks because you were carried away by watching another cat video or eating two more cookies?
That’s the Water element at work. Water took you away from the mundane to keep moving in the direction it wanted you to go. Water needs to be regulated so we can do less grandiose tasks, such as paying bills, completing homework, cooking dinner, etc. It also needs to be in balance so we can care for our bodies and minds by eating healthy and resting.
General Aspects of Water
Water has the qualities of moistening and downward movement. In nature, the Chinese saw Water most associated with Cold in the environment; its season is Winter. In living things, including humans, Winter is the primary season for storing, whether storing food or body fat to keep warm. It also represents development and fertility. The color Black (or very, very Dark Blue) represents Water and stimulates the body during Winter, helping Qi and Blood flow. The Kidney and Bladder are the internal organs of Water, and hence need special care and attention during the Winter.
Next up: Growth, Longevity, & Change
In our post, Growth, Longevity, & Change we examine childhood, adolescence, middle age, and old age as affected by and connected to the Water element