In Traditional Chinese Medicine, health is achieved by living in balance with nature and the seasons. Winter, the season of the Water Element, is the season for slowing down, reflecting, and conserving our resources. We all feel this tendency, but we don’t always listen to our bodies. In Western culture, being active is rewarded and expected. We feel compelled to keep up the hectic pace that is typical in our daily lives.
This season is associated with the kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands and the time of year when these organs are most active, accessible, and even vulnerable. They are more receptive to being restored, nurtured, and energized. At the same time, it is also when they can become easily depleted.
According to Chinese medicine, our kidneys receive a specific amount of energy at the time of our conception that will carry each of us through our lives, called Jing Qi. Imagine for a minute that our kidneys are like batteries. Batteries that have come from the shop with a limited amount of charge. These unfortunately are not the rechargeable types of batteries. Jing Qi is the energy stored in our kidney batteries. Our body and mind pull from this reserve in times of change, healing, and stress. Every action we take draws on this power supply.
Some people can easily deplete their Jing Qi due to poor lifestyle choices and extreme stress. Others preserve it by nurturing it with the right foods and behaviors. Jing Qi is finite. The more we use it, the less we will have for necessary body functioning. Every day our kidneys filter blood and other body fluids, remove toxins from the liver, and our bladder collects, processes and excretes these liquids through the urine.
There are ways we can preserve our Jing Qi. In addition to Jing Qi, we operate on renewable sources of energy. The spleen makes Qi (vital life force) for us out of the food we eat, and the lungs bring us Qi from the air. We will have less need to draw on our Jing Qi and be healthier and more energetic as we eat, rest and breathe better and do Qi Gong to replenish our renewable sources of energy.
Keep in mind, stimulants such as caffeine deplete the kidneys, and rob us of our ability to know how we really feel. If our body is in need of rest and sleep, caffeine consumption will make us unaware of this fact, thus causing us to ignore our body’s needs. This can then contribute to the unnecessary depletion of our Jing Qi.
In order to maintain and cultivate health, it is important to nurture and nourish our kidney energy. Now is the perfect time to recharge your internal kidney batteries. Acupuncture, yoga, Tai Chi, quiet reflection, meditation, simple walks, and herbs are wonderful ways to recharge and energize!
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.