- Summer: A season for rewards, celebration and fulfillment.
- Autumn: A season for survival, mistakes and problems.
- Winter: A season for reflection, hibernation and planning.
- Spring: A season for learning, opportunity and dynamic thinking.
Winter teaches us that the only way to fully enjoy the powers of the season is to surrender to it, let go and learn from what it has to offer us. In winter the earth lies fallow; nature appears frozen and dead. In this deep stillness of nature, winter calls us to look into our depths, to reconnect to our inner being/our inner child, to befriend the darkness/shadows within us and around us. In winter—like the seeds that are beginning their metamorphosis and starting to manifest their destiny in the deep recesses of the earth—all of our energies are being called to be at rest, and through transformation and change replenish themselves like it happens in all of nature’s cycles.
“In winter all is hidden. Winter is the season of retirement into depth, because of the cold outside. At this time you must not disturb or disperse the yang (Fire, active) energy so that you can allow the yin reserves to be re-established within you.” (Quote of the Yellow Emperor)
This depth—our core—is the place where we are afraid to journey; so in this season of darkness we try to fill it with what appears to be light. We celebrate the holidays, eat and drink heartily, socialize frequently, and try to distract us from the aloneness* that winter calls us to. We do not realize that the entry to our inner world is most accessible during this time of the year and if we would like to find out more about who we are and how we can find purpose and meaning, we should follow the invitation to step into and explore the unknown places within us.
*Aloneness is presence, fullness, aliveness, joy of being, overflowing love. You are complete. Nobody is needed, you are enough.
Water contains the most Yin of all the five elements. The organ systems associated with Water are the Kidneys and Bladder, which rule water metabolism and maintain homeostasis, a dynamic continual re-balancing system.
Water has no shape, taking the form given to it by its container. It is mutable and can become solid as ice or manifest only as vapor. The most yielding of all the elements, it will break down even the hardest rock over time and find the path of least resistance to move around any obstacle.
Throughout Winter you will tend to experience a mix of pessimistic and optimistic emotions that naturally tend to trigger a state of procrastination: Guilt – Fear – Relief – Grief – Hope
In Traditional Chinese Medicine “Fear” is the emotion associated with the Water Element. In a healthy way, fear is an emotion that moves and directs us to remain alert and attentive to our surroundings and situation. When confronted with danger, constructive fear can guide us with a message of caution and restraint and fill us with a sense of readiness and courage to face whatever situation might present itself.
Unbalanced fear however becomes an obstacle to the energy flow. It might manifest as chronic anxiety or as an intense phobia, but in either case it often signifies a deficiency in the Water energy and a corresponding lack of grounding, causing the energy to be trapped.
Symptoms Associated With Imbalances in Water
- Lower back pain—chronic or acute
- Knee pain and weakness
- Problems with urinary retention
- Fatigue and shortness of breath
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Sexual problems
- Anxiety and Phobias
- High blood pressure and/or occipital headaches
- Inflexibility and resistance to change
How to Keep Yourself Healthy and Joyful During Winter
• Practice Self-acceptance, love, forgiveness and gratitude: Fears can freeze us so that we feel stuck and hopeless. We need to learn the gentle art of “witnessing” to ourselves without judging ourselves. Rather than attempting to overcome our fears, we can learn to recognize and accept them. Self-awareness and self-acceptance help us move on in a healthful way. Show gratitude for everything you already have in your life. Practice ho’oponopono, the forgiveness-prayer.
• Take time to listen inwardly and recharge: Listen to your body, and take time to replenish your reserves. Winter is a time to recharge; so learn to listen to your heart speaking to you. This is a time of receiving, not doing. Keep a journal and record your feelings, thoughts, and dreams: donʼt interpret, just record. Allow images to unfold and see if the images convey an inner message to you.
• Nurture your soul and nourish your body: Imagine that the ideas and images that have been planted and are germinating within you, as in a garden, will begin to sprout in the spring. Nurture these images of hope, but allow them to grow and develop within you quietly and naturally, just as plants grow. It is also very important to hydrate by drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of fresh water daily. Eat warming foods such as root vegetables, whole grains, and small amounts of meat or fish protein.
• Keep warm and dress in layers: Prepare for the weather, and dress accordingly. Chinese medicine says that the neck and shoulder areas contain the “Wind” points through which pathogens can enter, so keep these areas protected; wear a scarf and keep your neck covered.