The winter solstice is usually around June 21st each year in the southern hemisphere. This is the shortest day of the year after which the days once again grow slowly longer.

Arriving at the solstice can be like coming to the dark night of the soul where we reach our darkest point and from there we can awaken into new meanings in our lives, a creative process that underlies all things and comes from our centre, our still point.   To reach our still point we need to slow down and the three months of winter are the perfect time to go within, to spend time in quiet contemplation and self-reflection in order to get to know ourselves better. Aristotle has been credited with saying that  “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” and wisdom is one of the virtues of the water element, the element that corresponds with winter and with the Kidney and Bladder organs in Chinese Medicine.

Winter is a great time to shore up your Kidney energy with Acupuncture and Chinese herbs as your Kidney energy is your foundational energy, a reservoir for tremendous physical power and will power. Have you ever sat at the beach when the ocean was rough and noticed just how frightening the power of the ocean can be? Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic once said.  “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” If you want to harness that power then it is important for you to look after your kidney energy, especially as you age, and regular acupuncture treatments are a great way to do that.

The water element corresponds also with the emotion of fear and as many physical conditions tend to have an emotional component to them then fear is the emotion that will affect aspects of our health that relate to the kidney energy.

Do you know people who get kidney stones regularly who also tend to be stuck in their fears? Cystitis used to be called honeymooners disease at a time when people got married after only a short courtship when there was probably a fair bit of insecurity within the relationship. Have you noticed people with chronic lower back problems that tend to worry constantly about money? As these, and other kidney-related conditions, are treated fears will often subside and as we address our fears any kidney conditions will improve.    “The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance“ – N Branden (psychotherapist).

The water element is about moving forward in life, going with the flow (change, ageing) and the flow stops when we are feeling afraid or insecure. Fear, however, stops you not to immobilize you but to give you the time you need to gather yourself and your resources. Fear makes energy descend which is why it can be hard to think clearly when there is no energy in your head and you feel as though your very foundation has been rocked. If, however, you can allow the energy of ‘fear’ to flow freely you may find that you become more focused and are better able to tune into your instincts and intuition, ask yourself what action should be taken next, and hear the answer.

If you are feeling confused then try to see confusion as a messenger rather than a problem as it is only a mask for fear. It arises to trip you up when your behaviour or your motivations aren’t compatible with your life purpose. This is the perfect time to ask yourself  – what is my intention? – as intention can end ambiguity and allow you to take action.

Worry and anxiety arise when your fear has become trapped. There are two types of worry and anxiety the first is that constant sense of nervousness that arises when we are clogged with rejected and dishonoured fears, the second is our response to fears of the unknown. To work with these fears it is important to ground yourself so this is the perfect time make contact with nature, with the earth. Give yourself rest, nutrition and practice your deep belly breathing and calming exercises as these will help you switch off your fight and flight adrenal mode which will then give your Kidney energy a chance to rest and recuperate. Your Kidney energy actually plays a role in breathing, in receiving the qi, this is why you find it hard to breathe when your adrenals are overloaded.

The Kidneys also rule the ears so try this listening exercise:

Get into a quiet space

Take a deep breath and drop your shoulders out of your ears as you breathe out

Relax your jaw to create more space around your ears

Lean forward a little and try to hear the quietest sound in your area, really tune in and try to locate it

Can you feel the sound?

Observe how focused you are at this time.   Healthy free flowing fear is simply your instincts, intuition and focus. Winter is the time for gestation, the quiet growth beneath the surface, before the birth of spring. So this is the best time to make space to be able to hear your inner voice and increase your ability to respond appropriately to new and changing situations rather than simply react to them.

If you are having difficulties dealing with your fears or any other stresses then make an appointment with your local Chinese medicine practitioner today.

Your feedback and questions are always welcome so please leave a comment below.

For further information on Chinese Medicine  contact  Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Wholefood counselling).    Tania is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine  (AHPRA  registered) in  Kingsford