Winter and the Water Element

Shiatsu is based upon traditional Chinese medicine and the Tao.  These philosophies describe life according to the five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each of these elements represents certain characteristics as well as changes in the seasons.

Now Christmas has passed we have a few months of long nights and short days. The last leaves have gone from the trees and the frosty morning have arrived.

When you walk in nature at this time of year notice its stillness.  In Chinese and Taoist philosophies winter corresponds to the element Water. This is the element of philosophy, contemplation and reflection.  Water is also the element that holds our reserve stores of energy or Chi. Its important to rest during the winter months so these stores are ready for new activity and growth when the sun returns and spring arrives.

In our modern life we tend to continue rushing around even as the seasons change. Yet, at this time of year many animals and most plant life has gone into hibernation taking these colder months as a time to rest and preserve energy for the coming spring.

Whilst we may not be able or want to hibernate there are many small ways we can support ourselves and embrace the positive aspect of this time of year.

1.    If possible allow yourself some extra time in bed. Its normal for us to sleep more at this time of year, even twenty minutes extra each night will make a big difference.

2.    Allow yourself to slow down and reflect on what you’ve achieved during the last year and what you might like to do in the next.  We can have a tendency to see such activities as ‘wasted time’ but its an important process in making sure we achieve our goals effectively.

3.    Adapt your diet to the changing seasons. In Chinese food oven roast food is seen as the most warming. Simple casseroles and roast vegetables can be easy to prepare for those mid week meals, not forgetting the super easy baked potatoes. In contrast, most salads and cold foods are harder for the body to digest so we don’t receive the nourishment we need.

4.    As ever its always important to drink plenty of water, but make sure it not straight from the fridge.  Have room temperature cold water or mild herbal teas. One of my favourites is hot water with a few slices of ginger.

5.    Finally wrap up warm.  Whilst its fashionable to have low cut jeans and trousers keeping your lower back warm and particularly the kidney area. This will help reduce lower back pain and fatigue.

6.    But above all enjoy the beauty of the stillness in nature at this time beautiful and contemplative time of year.

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