Winter

Winter is the time of the Water element, reflected in Traditional Chinese Medicine in the body as Kidney and Bladder energy.

In nature energy tends to pull back in to itself and conserve itself. – Plants are dormant, animals hibernate. It is cold and the darkness gives a much more Yin energy – qualities such as cold, dark, deep, resting, stillness

If we protect our Kidney energy during this time it can set us up well for the cycle of energy in the year to come

Tips for the Winter to care for and benefit your Kidney energy

1. Keeping on top of your warmth. If your body is working hard regulating it’s temperature you are more vulnerable to letting in ailments. Enough layers, hats gloves, scarf when out. Even indoors if you need to layer up to keep from feeling shivery you will help protect your self, so the body does not have to work at keeping warm

2. Keep the kidney area warm – the mid to lower back area. Make sure it is not exposed to the cold or wind. You can go a step further and buy a Hara warmer – a belt that protects this area

3. If possible support your own Kidney Yin. Try and relax. Water is the element of the kidney and has very relaxing properties – warm baths, drinking water, relaxing walks by a river or seaside

4. If you like ginger it is useful to warm Kidney Yang energy. You can use it in cooking or even a slice in a herb tea like chamomile is very warming and beneficial

5. In the spirit of hibernation and replenishing your energy try and get as much sleep as possible if you can, Try and get to bed a little earlier to build up your Kidney energy reserves to support your health for the year ahead

6. Our fight or flight stimulus causes the kidneys to release adrenalin. Under stress it can be difficult to relax again and we can almost forget what relaxation feels like when the body is stuck in this pattern. Things like gentle exercise – yoga, swimming, or a shiatsu is a good way to relax this sympathetic nervous system response and allow the nervous system to relax and stand down

7. Emotionally, fear is the response of the kidneys. If after you have tried to destress any adrenaline, kindness is one of the best antidotes for fear. Being kind to ourselves, kind to our fears and the kindest way through stressful situations to alleviate the stess

8. Stimulants particularly in excess can deplete Kidney energy. Cutting out or just cutting back alcohol, cigarettes, coffee etc can allow the adrenals and kidney energy to relax and replenish

9. Chi gung exercise. Just standing in classic chi gung neutral position – relaxed, feet shoulder feet apart, knees slightly bent , tail bone relaxing down and head slightly suspended with chin tucked. You can imagine water flowing down through the body down into the ground,, feeling soothing and helping you relax with a downward flow of energy. This can help relax and heal you and you can feel much calmer.

10. If you practice any standing chi gung postures as in 8, Winter is a good time to practice. It can help calm the nervous system and relax and build kidney energy to help boot up your system for the year to come so you stand a better chance of good health

Shiatsu and the 5 elements – 8 ways to benefit your metal element in the Autumn

Shiatsu shares an understanding of Five Element theory with traditional Chinese Medicine. The natural elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water are taken as a basis of understanding of life forces in the world and the human body. Based on observations and contemplations of the world around us and how we are a part of it, we can balance our own energy as it is affected by the energy of the seasons and benefit from it.

Autumn is the season associated with the metal element. When we consider autumn, we see plants dying back. Growth slows, leaves wither and fall. Trees let go of their leaves and their energy starts drawing in for the winter.

In the body the metal element is associated with the Lungs and Large intestine meridian. The lungs draw new breath and let go, the large intestine lets go of the waste we do not need. What qualities spring to mind when you think of metal? Shining, value, hardness, conductivity, preciousness, value buried in the earth, other qualities…

So with this in mind, during Autumn we can support our own metal element in various ways

1.  It is a great time to let go of what we don’t need, clear out and declutter as much as possible let go of all old unwanted items that are clogging up our lives, leaving space for fresh energy in your life

2.  Mindful breathing exercises. You can either set 5 minutes daily aside or when you find yourself with a quiet moment. You can simply become the observer and just be mindful of your breath, becoming aware of it and following it as you breathe in and out. If you notice you are holding as you breathe, just become aware of it, notice and allow yourself to let it go

Or you can consciously allow the breath to deepen drawing it down to the belly and centre yourself in the peace of your belly, as you breathe out relax and allow sensation to flow smoothly down your body

Regular attention to the breath can let you start getting in touch and allow the emotions associated with the lungs to express, sensitivity, sadness, a stronger sense of self value and identity. Lack of sensation usually indicates a blockage so any increased sensation or emotional expression means your energy is moving more freely.

3.  The pungent flavour is associated with the metal element. Eating plenty of garlic and onions can boost us against the colds and bugs as the weather changes.

4.  Let go of any negative self beliefs and thoughts. It is useful to be aware of letting of negative thoughts first before adding in positive thoughts. Thinking positive thoughts over negative is like putting nice decorations on top of old clutter. Far better to clear your negative thoughts first, weed them out, before instilling new positive self beliefs. What we think we become and we can become aware of our negative thoughts, stop them and replace them with positive self beliefs This can be complex work but we are all unique, deserving of love, complete being in ourselves. Any thoughts that take anything away from ourselves are simply not true

5.  Once you’ve had a bit of a clear out, physically, emotionally or mental, you’ve made space for something new. Try a new experience that draws you, take a deep breath and give it a go!

6.  Depending on your life, your Large Intestine may be affected by either loneliness or not enough time alone. If you feel isolated, lonely feelings can affect the LI and by reaching out and talking and communicating with someone you can talk honestly with you can benefit your LI. Or conversely if you are so busy you feel lost in all the roles you play in your life, time spent alone can allow you allow you the space to process your own true feelings.

7.  Define your boundaries and clearly state how you feel about matters, letting people know what you do or do not find acceptable . This clearly defines where your boundaries are to other people and values your own feelings before matters escalate out of hand

8.  If you visit a zen Shiatsu practitioner your diagnosis will show up an energy channel that is out of balance. The treatment would tonify the energy in that channel and you might the feel more like you had the energy to address any issues you are affected by which help you feel healthier and happier

So for me this autumn, my intentions are

Physical: clear out the shed and outside cupboards before the winter, deep cleaning

Food: eat lots of hearty soups with garlic and onions.

Practice: my focus will be on my breathing, deepening it and bringing my awareness back to it for the lungs. For the Large Intestine to do regular swing chi gung exercises.

Mental: I continue to work with my belief system, clearing out negative self talk.

Emotional: spend time with close friends. Start writing blog

Connecting: And I’d like to start a Chi gung class for basic health building exercises so intend to start to look for a venue.

My intention in writing this blog

To offer ways to incorporate healthful practice into a busy every day life.

To share ideas and practices from Shiatsu and meditation work.

To share personal insights and understandings I have found beneficial.

To use common sense language to bring down to earth what may sound like far fetched concepts.

I claim not to be a guru or expert, but share insights from 20 years of inner work in case it is useful to anyone else’s meditation journey.

Shiatsu works with the energy of the organs as seen from a Chinese Medicine theory perspective The energy in our organs resonate out through our lives. By supporting an organ we support it’s function in our lives.

These ideas are by way of a toolbox to use in everyday life. I fit these in round a normal everyday life, generally to be happier!

I share experiences and ideas as honestly as I can. All efforts undertaken as a result are taken at the reader’s own risk and responsibility.