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Your water element

by Stacey Kaplan LAc, LMT

I am currently reviewing in depth the five elements in Chinese medicine and would love to share with you some ways to incorporate these theories into your daily lives.

The five elements are water, wood, fire, earth and metal. These elements house each of the meridian systems, along which are the acupuncture points, and correspond to all of our internal functions and interactions with the outside world. I'll talk briefly today and during subsequent entries about some of the attributes that correspond to each element so we can recognize when they are in dysfunction. Then, I will offer tips on what we can do to get back on track.

These are huge, complex topics but I will try to simplify the major concepts to convey the gist of each elemental function to help you incorporate them into your life right now. I'm always happy to discuss any of these topics in greater depth during our sessions.

We'll begin with the water element because we are currently in the season associated with it: Winter.

In the Winter, living things need to live off the resources they have stored up through the year. We need to conserve our energy so that we can reemerge and start growing and producing again in the Spring.

The systems related to water are kidney and bladder.
Kidneys control what we do with our resources and give us the potency to be in the world and be ourselves.
Bladder controls the storage of water. It is the body's energetic savings account. It controls how we use our resources.

Our water element is our connection to our origin and our path. It allows us to define our existence and connect to where we come from and where we are going. It roots us in knowing who we are.

One way to gauge how our water element is doing is to take a look at how we use our resources. Ask ourselves questions like:
Am I spending more than I make?
Am I saving more than I need to live comfortably?
Do I overwork myself because I am afraid I might not have enough, or it may not last?
Am I expending my resources by pushing myself too hard physically?

If you're spending more than you have, or saving too much out of fear, then your water element may need to be addressed.

A nice way to nourish your water element is to develop a plan for you financial present and future, a plan that is in alignment with keeping healthy and happy. 
Check in with your pace at work and make sure that pace is in alignment with your goals and overall health.

Winter is a great time to take stock of how we are doing in all aspects of our lives and determine ways to best use our energy and resources. Eat warm, hearty soups and stews, whole grains, dried foods, small dark beans, seaweeds and steamed winter greens are a great way to fortify the kidneys in the Winter.
Activity and exercise should also be geared toward conserving our resources. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, meditation are great year round, but especially important in Winter. 
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine will help support you through any imbalances that come up through the year. We can discuss one on one about exactly what is going on for you and develop a plan to equalize the body's systems to get you on track to feeling your best.

Stay tuned for the next newsletter where we'll discuss the wood element, the element associated with Spring. It's just around the corner, polar vortex or not! 

And, as always;

Whatever your injury, Chinese medicine advocates immediate treatment. Treat minor problems promptly and they are much less likely to develop into larger, chronic conditions.