Did you know Water Element? If you experience absent-mindedness, disconnection, hot flushes, stiffness in the joints, weakness in the knees, ringing in the ears or pain in the lower back, there may be an imbalance in the water element according to the 3000-year-old Traditional Chinese Medicine theory.
The water element, one of the five elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is associated with the kidney and its common organ, the urinary bladder (bladder). As we get older, dry hair, skin that loses its elasticity and joints that lose their flexibility indicate that the balance of the water element is out of balance. As we get older, we realise the importance of the water element not only physically but also mentally.
The transition from a flexible mindset to a closed and limiting mindset is one of the signs that the balance of the water element is lost. So how can we raise the water element again?
What is the water element?
The wisdom of water is to flow. Sometimes it flows with enthusiasm, sometimes with serenity, but in all cases it travels without tugging, pushing or forcing. Water moves effortlessly and takes the exact form of everything it is in because it has the most yin of all the elements. It becomes a gas, it becomes a cloud, it becomes a drop…
Water, the most flexible of all elements, will eventually break down even the hardest rock and find the path of least resistance to go around any obstacle.
What does the water element symbolise?
Each element has a spirit and an emotion. The spirit of the water element is Zhi – will power. Major changes, vital decisions are the yang side of willpower, while the virtue of wisdom, destiny, effortless endeavour, serenity are the yin side. Trying to make things happen or reacting to a situation that we do not want to happen prevents the water from flowing effortlessly.
Life is actually an intertwined state of the known and the unknown. We know that there is death, but we also know that there is the unknown. The will that endeavours to make a decision, the will that forces, should make room for the will that emerges with the virtue of serenity and wisdom, so that our enthusiasm and excitement for life can emerge.
If you have a balanced water element, you can act smoothly with strength, courage and willpower. There is a sense of flow and ease, and you harmonise with your purpose or destiny. Although it is related to flow, the water element is imbalanced by our sense of fear. An appropriate amount of fear is necessary for our survival because it allows us to navigate situations with care and caution. When imbalanced, extreme fear (phobia) can lead to a lack of courage.
The influence of the water element on us
We may have a strong will, a determined nature and a tendency to be self-sufficient and independent. We seek knowledge and understanding not only about the world around us, but also about ourselves and what makes us tick. On the other hand, we can sometimes be so introverted and focussed on our own inner world that we can suddenly withdraw from others or speak without thinking! This may be due to the pressure of fear, which is the emotion of the water element.
Which organs are governed by the water element?
The kidneys and bladder are organ systems of the water element and play an important role in fluid regulation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, the health of the kidneys is vital for all other organs and tissues of the body, especially the reproductive organs, as well as the ears and bones. Therefore, our kidneys are considered to be the foundation of our health.
In Chinese Medicine theory, the kidneys are the storehouse of our vital energy, our Jing or Essence. Jing is related to our genetics; it governs growth, reproduction and how we move through life cycles. Our bones, joints, teeth, ears, brain and marrow are affected by the kidneys.
The kidneys (the Storehouse of Vital Essence) mobilise all processes and functions within the body, mind and spirit. Our kidneys provide the Chi energy and will power needed to overcome obstacles, achieve our goals in life and live our full potential. With the energy reserves of the kidneys, we develop, live, work, produce and age.
The kidney meridian starts from the bottom of the foot and travels from the inside of the leg to the pelvis, from there to the lower abdomen and ends in the chest. If there is a shortage of energy reserves, our body will want to signal this to us in certain areas along the meridian line with symptoms such as lower back pain, weak knees, frequent urination, menstruation or fertility problems. Other symptoms of imbalance include fatigue, hot flushes, low motivation, excessive fear, anxiety and skeletal disorders.
The bladder can be likened to a reservoir where the body’s water collects. The bladder meridian is the longest meridian in the body; it runs from the eyes, over the head, down the back of the neck, along the sides of the spine to the sacrum, back of the knees, calves and ankles ending at the outside of the little toe. Physical symptoms of imbalance include back pain, bladder pain, vertigo, headaches, vision problems and incontinence. Because of the bladder’s role in “holding” urine, we can experience emotional retention, which can lead to resentment and jealousy.
How to raise the water element?
The classic texts of Traditional Chinese Medicine encourage us to follow the cycle of the seasons to stay healthy. Maintaining a proper balance between activity and rest is crucial for the health of the water element.
“In winter, just as lakes and rivers freeze and snow falls, everything in nature dries up, hides, returns home and enters a period of rest. This is a time when yin dominates yang. Therefore, one should avoid overuse of yang energy. Get up with the sunrise. Stay warm, avoid cold and keep your skin covered. Avoid sweating. The winter season is to preserve and store, that is, to reserve. If we don’t, there will be damage to the energy of the kidneys. This causes weakness, muscle contraction and cold. As a result, the body loses the ability to move in the spring.”
1. The right foods
Focus on foods that share the qualities of the water element. Dark in colour, salty in taste, moisturising and nourishing in content are good for supporting the water element. Nuts, seeds, legumes, shellfish, shellfish, saltwater fish, seaweed, dark fruits, root vegetables, whole grains, stews and soups are recommended. In addition, hot and cooked foods should have priority in the menu; cold and raw foods should be limited. Warming spices such as garlic, ginger and cardamom can be used.
2. Adaptogenic herbs
It strengthens the adrenal secretion of the kidneys, increases immunity, relieves depression, reduces anxiety and helps the body to get rid of stress. Basil, ashwaghanda, astragalus, oat straw and rhodiola are herbs that can be consumed daily. It is best to consult a health professional before adding supplements to your wellness menu.
3. Essential oils
Essential oils such as geranium, ylang ylang, jasmine and basil can be used in a diffuser to strengthen the water element. Flower oils mostly have medium or base notes and resonate with the deeper layers of our self. Flower oils nourish the yin, uplift the spirit and connect with our inner beauty and essence. Basil blends are used for fatigue, depression, focus and memory.
4. Turning inward
Meditation, yoga, journaling, dream work and breathwork can be great activities for turning inwards. The water element is not only related to winter. As our life energy spreads from our kidneys to the body, and the kidneys are also related to the water element, we can maintain its balance if we do the introspection not only in winter, but whenever we need it.
5. Protect Jing
Your primary health goal should be to take good care of your kidney organ-meridian system, as this is the only way to preserve your Jing, which can be prone to depletion as you age. This means that a healthy lifestyle with nutritious food, regular exercise and time spent in the fresh air should be high on your agenda. Make sure you drink enough water. Avoid stimulants such as coffee, cola and energy drinks.
For yoga that nourishes the water element, yin or restotarif is recommended, in which the waiting time in a small number of simple and familiar poses is slightly longer than usual, thus supporting the inward turn. Although it may seem challenging, especially for mobile people, it actually has a healing effect for them. Forward folds, shoulder pose, child’s pose (also used for the liver meridian), poses in which the spine is flexed are good for supporting the meridian of the water element. The water element can be balanced when yoga is inward, less directed and in silence.
Even if you like to be independent, avoid being too isolated. Socialising is good for your physical and mental health. It helps you feel energised and alive, especially as you get older.
8. Acupressure points
Important acupuncture points are on the feet, knees, lower back and neck. These points are used to strengthen kidney and bladder function, support immunity and treat emotional imbalances of the water element. Keeping these areas warm and closed will maintain the integrity of the channels, keeping you well physically, emotionally and spiritually.