“In the bleak mid winter frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone”
I find the words from this lovely Christmas Carol are applicable and relevant not only to the current season but also to our health and spiritual wellbeing. The verses, of course, celebrate the humble arrival of a great spiritual teacher Jesus: representing the birth of love and joy and the hope of peace and harmony for the world.
Whilst transitioning back into the mode of work, following the festive holiday, I can’t help but apply the aforementioned qualities to therapeutic awareness in my role as a 5-Element reflexology practitioner! Curious you might think but read on…!
Looking to the seasonal connection, Winter is nature’s metaphorical clothing for Kidney and Bladder – energies of the Water Element. A deeply yin time of year, in TCM terms, this season represents gestation, germination, maturation. It’s ok to wear black and hibernate!
Each of the 5-Elements (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal) is governed by a different set of organs and corresponding emotions. This Eastern philosophy constructs a wellbeing system of energy checks and balances to maintain physiological homeostasis. The secret for positive health perspectives lies with their functional harmonies through the remedial power of therapeutic touch, adequate sleep, diet and exercise etc. The ideology works on the avoidance of extremes and the basis that prevention of dis-ease is better than cure!
A significant example is the crucial balance between the Fire and Water Elements. Fire (Heart, Small Intestines, Pericardium, Triple Burner) represents the healing emotions of Love and Joy. (When our emotions are out of kilter you can bet there’s a Water/Fire imbalance).
Here are some further examples: Fire energy is viewed, symbolically, as the elemental flame that motivates and maintains all metabolic process for the body (very significant hormonally too). The Liver (Wood Element) importantly functions as ‘The General of the Body’. If Wood, Liver energy, is out of balance then all the other organs will be too. (This ‘domino’ effect applies across the spectrum of the 5-Elements harmonies). Going with the flow, kidney chi is not just part of an essential filtering system but a key organ associated with courage, willpower and longevity.
Charmingly, the first acu-point of the kidney meridian, on the sole of the foot, is called ‘Bubbling Spring’ implying a deep source of vibrancy. This can be a truism when health is good but because our kidney chi is, like the Winter season, deeply yin, we frequently have to mine for its reserves of energy, particularly when experiencing prolonged stress (think of our poor adrenals which sit on top of the kidneys) emotional over-load or illness.
The kidneys and bladder are the powerhouse and foundation of all energy in the body i.e. our ‘Vital Life Force’ so their health status is of paramount importance. Their function, like the gift of water itself, is to sustain, refresh and cleanse all life. Water is a most valuable substance for the entire planet and we can’t live without it. Remember with TCM we are a microcosm of the macrocosm! In part, this is literally why it is so important to drink lots of water to replenish and nourish our Kidneys in order to support their holistic functions.
When Fire energy (incidentally associated with the heat of high summer as opposed to the cold of Water’s deep winter) is out of balance, we can lose our exuberance, sociability and sense of joy. Similarly, when Water energy is out of balance we can become symbolically frozen or stagnant; fearful or introspective – the old adage that still waters run deep is an appropriate metaphor for this Element. One of the Fire Element’s associations manifests in the tongue and speech and fascinating, perhaps, is the relationship between words and water as discovered by a Japanese scientific researcher – Dr. Masaru Emoto. His long years of research-work with frozen water ice- crystals demonstrated that “from beautiful words and music, come beautiful crystals; and from mean-spirited, negative words, come malformed and misshapen crystals”
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, in the bleak mid winter, long ago”
References: “In the Bleak Midwinter” is a Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti written before 1872 in response to a request from the magazine Scribner’s Monthly for a Christmas poem. It was published posthumously in Rossetti’s Poetic Works in 1904. The poem became a Christmas carol after it appeared in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav Holst. Source: WikipediA Water & Words Reference: Dr. Masaru Emoto: “Mind Body Spirit”, Watkins publication).
Copyright Louise Exeter January 2017