The Five Elements show us how the structures and systems in our bodies are connected to each other; how we are connected to our environment and the natural world; how our world is part of the greater universe. Many people today have lost this deep connection to nature and no longer are able to feel this truth resonate in their being.

Winter is the energy of the element Water, a time of rest and hibernation when nature retreats to build up its reserves for its next cycle of seasons. This is a quieter, more reflective time of year, a time when it is easy to sleep in, stay at home, and let ourselves rest.

Water is about our ability to flow and to overcome obstacles. Water is related to a cold climate, the North, the color Black, the Kidneys, the emotion Fear. These are things that share a deep, sometimes invisible, connection to each other.

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.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Kidney (Yin organ) is the powerhouse of the body, supplying reserve energy to any organ running low on Qi. Its partner organ is the Bladder (Yang organ). The Kidney stores reserve energy called “prenatal Qi” inherited from your parents. When another organ is low on energy, the Kidney sends it an extra Qi boost from this inheritance.

In Western medicine, we know that the kidneys regulate water metabolism and stabilize the heart and blood pressure. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Kidney energy is also said to be responsible for healthy teeth, bones, and bone marrow along with other attributes. It is wise to keep your Kidneys healthy, drink plenty of water. Here in the north, the air is dry and our bodies need the extra hydration. A nice cup of tea this afternoon would be wonderful!

Take time for winter contemplation, practice your meditation, breathing, tai chi and qigong routines and forms. Winter is about taking care of yourself so you can move easily into Spring!