Winter is the season when roots hide underground in preparation for Spring, because mother nature knows that to do anything other than rest would be foolish. So if the thought of getting up off your couch for another Christmas party really doesn’t appeal, don’t worry, this is normal!

During Winter you should store and conserve your energy, don’t be wasteful with it. This is a time to rest, replenish, and reflect. To turn inward.

Winter is about warming and nourishing your body, so:

  • Include lots of ‘warming’ foods in your diet such as root vegetables, whole grains, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, soups, and broths. A small amount of red meat is also beneficial.
  • Stay away from ‘cooling’ foods such as salads, especially cucumbers, raw tomatoes, and watermelons.
  • Rest more.
  • Exercise to keep your body warm and your energy moving.

Chinese medicine associates Winter with the water phase of the 5 element cycle, and the Kidneys and Bladder are the ‘Water’ organs. Unhelpfully, the organs we know in Chinese medicine, were translated into the names of Western medical organs (Liver, Spleen, Heart etc), so it’s important to remember that although they may share similar functions, they are different, and have a broader range of functions.

The Kidneys, as well as regulating water in the body (as they do in Western medicine), are also responsible for reproduction, growth, and development, as well as storing our ‘essence’ or ‘vital life force’. They do not like the cold, so it’s vital that we protect them. This can be done easily by keeping your lower back warm and protected from the elements, and by not wearing ballerina slippers!! The Kidney meridian starts on the sole of the foot, so do yourself a favour and keep your feet nice and toasty to prevent cold from invading.

Water has a rhythm and a flow that is governed by the gravitational pull of the moon, and as the planet’s oceans expand and contract, so do our internal oceans. The water in our bodies can flow freely or stagnate, flood or cause a drought, and this is reflected in our emotions.

A new season brings stress and change, and as the emotion linked to the Kidneys is fear, when Winter arrives, we can find ourselves lacking in courage and willpower. It’s a hard time of year to start a new project, so try to save your new projects for the Spring, when nature’s new shoots burst through the earth full of energy to propel them forward.

Illness imposes stillness, so if you do find yourself feeling poorly and retreating to your bed, use the opportunity to feel the inner changes that are occurring deep within, face your fears, and create a more reflective existence.

“The kidney is the ocean of the human body. Since oceans are situated on a lower level than the earth’s streams and rivers, they draw every one of them to form one large body of water. Oceans may appear vast and inexhaustible, yet they still drain off some of their seemingly unlimited supply. One way of drainage is called ‘going to ruins,’ meaning the water drains down into the earth from where it will not return. The other way of drainage is called ‘dwelling with the stars,’ meaning the water steams toward the sky and later rains down to earth again, where it dissipates into rivers and streams and eventually returns to the ocean. This is the water that circulates between heaven and earth, always striving to keep an equilibrium between the extreme states of drought and flooding.” -From Zhuang Yuanchen, Shujuzi: Inner Chapters (Shujuzi Neipian), Ming Dynasty.

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