Chinese Medicine Advice for Working with Fear in Wintertime
In my last post, we talked about the Bladder Official, one of the organ systems associated with wintertime. Today, we will turn to the function of the Kidney. (We say the singular “Kidney” in Chinese Medicine, rather than “Kidneys,” because this system doesn’t particularly care that there are technically two Kidney organs! They view the two as one, working in harmony.)
The Kidney is a magical official. (I’m saying “official” as in “officer” here, instead of saying “organ” because Chinese Medicine is most concerned with function/action rather than physicality/structure.) While the Bladder Official was originally represented in written form as a column with two hands squeezing it, thus signifying connection and ascent, the original seal script version of the character for the Kidney is a bird, mostly like an owl.
Owls have the capacity to see in the dark, and to see in an almost 360 degree rotation (around 270 degrees to be exact). Owls have sweeping and penetrating vision that allows them to seek out shapes and patterns even in the darkest portion of the night.
The time of day associated with the Kidney is 5-7pm, the time of dusk and sunset. This is the time of day that might seem most desolate, as the light dies out, but taking a lesson from wintertime, maybe this is also a time of day that we can learn to work with and maybe even love.
The Kidney is known as “the official that makes us surrender.” As the light of another day fades, we turn inwards and learn to rest, to turn our attention to what’s inside of us rather than that which is external. If we were living even a few hundred years ago, we would know how to either surrender our day;’s labors, or how to work within the dark by moonlight or by candle.
The Kidney, like the Bladder, is part of the water phase of the five element cycle. Water is associated with winter, with death, and with the conclusion of each cycle of one single day.
The invitation of the Kidney Official is for us to turn inward and to rest. We have an amazing opportunity, if we go with the energy of winter, to get to know ourselves at the deepest level: to journal, to reflect, to pause, to learn to live a little more comfortably in the unknown and the dark.
The dark and the unknown can be scary. But we can learn to breathe, to shut our eyes, to listen (the Kidney is associated with the ears), to meditate, you can begin to identify what you really want and how you want to live.
It’s ok to be afraid of the dark, of the unknown. But we also have to learn how to live within our depths if we want to live a meaningful life.
The invitation of the Kidney, “the officer that makes us surrender,” is to be humble, to be curious, to be willing to learn how to live within your your experience, within both the comfortable and also within that which tends towards terrifying.
If you’re feeling too activated to explore your own inner knowing on your own, consider finding a therapist, or even a trusted friend, to help you connect to your own depths.
Fear is the emotion associated with wintertime. It’s totally normal to feel some sense of scarcity and even terror as we are biologically wired during this time of year to hunker down and stay safe as we ration out our food. A manageable level of fear is helpful, even necessary so that we can maintain our well-being.
If you are feeling frozen, stuck, or your fear is unmanageable, acupuncture can help you recover the stability of your nervous system so that you can learn to live more comfortably in the dark.
As we turn towards the closing of the (solar calendar) year, I’ll invite you to take the rest of wintertime to explore your own consciousness and get in touch with your heart’s desires.
Good news for those of you who are ready for spring. Lunar New Year is January 22nd this year and we are entering the year of the water rabbit. Here are some Chinese Zodiac predictions for each astrological sign.
Happy Winter. May you find peace.