The Water Element
Chinese Medicine & The Five Elements
Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear. Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself. ~ Lao Tzu
Water is yielding yet all-conquering, all-knowing yet often unforgiving, dense and hard or flowing and formless. Dark and cold like the winter which brings rise to its energy, Water’s nature is introspective. The Water element encourages hibernation into the deep abyss, where we can germinate the seeds of Spring for the Wood element that proceed it. Water is considered the most Yin of all the elements and can be seen in contrast to the Yang of Fire.
The paired organs of Water element the Kidneys & Bladder
The paired Yin and Yang organs associated with Water are the Kidneys and the Bladder. Responsible for storing Jing, our essence gifted to us at birth by our parents, in their reservoir. The Kidneys store the deep potential that guides us forward through the path of time. Essence is a slow-moving omnipresent force that is not inexhaustible in our lifetime. We can help to conserve jing by living a balanced life with a nutritious diet with optimal amounts of sleep, exercise, activity and rest. Or we can deplete our supply of essence prematurely through careless unconscious living.
The Kidneys are named ‘the root of life’ and are deeply connected to the cycle of life: from reproduction to birth, to maturation through to old age and then death. The nature of the Kidneys can be characterised as cold and damp. They rule the organs of the lower body such as the lower back, hips, reproductive organs, lower abdomen and legs.
The Kidneys store the Will where virtue and wisdom are formed. The Will in its Yang like manifestation is connected to our assertiveness and commitments to our particular life path. Whilst its Yin aspect is more elusive and harder to describe as it drives us forward through a path, which we only know to have always been our destiny when we look back with hindsight. Like a fast-flowing river that drives knowingly forward carving out its path, to eventually come and settle in the lake or sea where it was always destined to be. A weakened Will can lead to the onset of fear and incessant worry about where the flow of life may take us.
As paired organs that govern the liquids of the body; the Bladder functions to receive and excrete the urine produced in the Kidneys. And it’s through the Bladder that the Kidneys control the urethral and lower sphincters to regulate the discharge of semen, menstrual blood and the release of stool.
Characteristics of a Water-type in Chinese Medicine
A person governed predominantly by the Water element is articulate and imaginative yet sometimes emotionally distant and overly scrutinising. An enigmatic thinker over a proactive doer, Water types are prone to socially withdraw or become suspicious and blunt in their expression if they do not maintain the balance of this element. However, when softening their hard waters through openness and social contact they have the gift of lucid perception and creativity to share with the world.
To read all about the next element in the 5 elements cycle, Wood, click here.