Winter is a time for slowing down. Like the seed underground, we also need time for storing up and conserving energy. We have moved from the Fall, of leaves falling and the season of release and letting go, to receiving the time of Winter, the most Yin time of year, a time of rest, stillness, and replenishment of our deepest resources. It is the time for the roots to grow deeper underground, to support growth for the coming Spring.
In Chinese Medicine the Winter Season is the phase of the Water Element.
Water is about our ability to flow and to overcome obstacles. To understand the attributes of water in ourselves think of the many ways water presents itself in Nature. Our Water energy can resemble a mighty river or a trickling stream, the waves of the ocean, a frozen lake, a gentle rain.
Water is a transformative substance. When we take the time to be quiet and internal, and ‘be’ in our Water energy, we allow a transformative process to occur.
The body/physical gift of Water Element is rest, solitude, to re-balance and replenish our reserves. When we have enough reserves, we have strength, drive and ambition to reach our fullest potential. We can manage our physical energy in a balanced way, not overdoing or being fearful of taking risks and trying new things.
The mind/emotional gift of Water is trust, faith, courage, and the renewal of our self-essence and blueprint for our lives. What if we are out of balance? We can feel fear, anxiety, and stress from not being able to live our fullest lives.
The spirit gift of Water is the will, to persevere and adapt, to nurture our intuition, and tap into our creative, internal energy to manifest who we are. The Water Element grants us the capacity to more deeply discover the essence of our self, and to grow ‘roots’ that anchor ourselves in who we are.
Keys to staying balanced in the Winter season.
Allow yourself to be quiet and listen to your deepest self-essence.
Stay warm, reduce outward activity to conserve your energy in the colder, darker months.
Take a quiet walk outside in the fresh air, listen to relaxing music, read books or listen to books on tape. Take care of yourself, take a soothing bath or a hot foot soak. If you can, get a massage or an Acupuncture treatment to stay balanced.
Discover more about yourself through reflection, being more aware of your senses, paying attention to your dreams. The winter season is an especially good time to begin the practice of meditation.
Do more moderate exercise like Chi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates.
Daily vitamins can help to keep your immune system strong: try taking multi- vitamins and multi-minerals, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D.
Drink lots of warm herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger tea, and Bengal Spice. Eat warm foods, like soups, plenty of steamed vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Try dishes made with whole grains, squashes, beans, peas, and dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, and bok choy.
Avoid too many cold foods and drinks. Although it is hard this time of year, try to have less sugar and dairy, as they will deplete your immune system.
Drink plenty of good quality water.
Stay warm, cover the back of your neck to not let the cold wind enter your body, as this is what can cause colds and flus. Cover your low back area, to protect your kidneys, and your reserves of energy.
We are especially reminded during this COVID-19 pandemic to practice preventative health measures to maintain our strength and resilience, and to keep our immune system strong.
This is the wisdom of Water: the effortless response to its environment, adapting to change, yielding yet persevering, the courage to stay the course, staying rooted to one’s essence.
Spring always follows Winter. We don’t know what that will look like, yet if we have followed Nature’s way and allowed ourselves to be immersed in Winter’s gift of rest and replenishment, we will emerge in Spring with restored, vibrant energy, a clear vision, and a more rooted sense of purpose in our life.