The winter season is affiliated with the Water Element in Chinese Medicine - a very auspicious and deeply soul-searching energy. This element connects us to our foundation for health on emotional, energetic, and physical levels by housing our true essence (jing) and paving the way for creative expression in alignment with our highest potential.
Physiology of Kidney Energy
The Water Element pertains to the body through the Kidney and Urinary Bladder systems, two key factors in regulating reproductive and metabolic health (think: fertility, thyroid and adrenals). As women, our stress response and fertile health are crucial foundations for the health of other systems (not to mention intricately intertwined with one another).
Fertility, as it relates to the Kidney Energy may very well pertain to conceiving a baby. But fertility can also be understood as a connection to our creative source - and the amount of relative energy we have on that deep level to bring forth our creative endeavor into fruition. Yogic tradition likens this to the second chakra: an energy center below the navel that represents the uterus as not only a cultivator of life but also creativity.
Do you have the resources to conceive, gestate, birth and nourish your creative expression - be it a baby or other form? On physical, energetic and emotional levels?
This is the important question the Water Element asks of us, and winter is a perfect time for introspection so we can move ahead with appropriate nourishment to bring our creative life force into the world - all while staying in alignment with our own authenticity and truth.
The Water Element takes us to the depths of ourselves - to the bedrock from which our entire being is built so that we may reconnect, regroup and re-emerge in the springtime tethered by a deep connection to our sense of self and solid foundation of nourishment.
In order to accomplish this, we must get still and go inward - two aspects that naturally align with the chilly winter season. By committing to regular and deep sleep, relaxation and meditation practices this time of year, we are ripe for accessing and developing this grounding aspect to ourselves.
The kidneys, or water element, are responsible for the reproductive aspect of the hormonal system by housing what is known as jing, or "life essence." Our jing is made up of two parts:
- Inheritance: referred to as "prenatal jing," given to us by our parents, aka "their jing", which can be loosely linked to "genetics," that which came when we were conceived + en utero
- Nourishment: cultivated on our own through food, drink and lifestyle - referred to as "post natal jing" that which we create after birth as separate beings from our parents)
Jing is the foundation on which all other systems of health are built. The strength of our prenatal and post natal jing directly impacts the health of our whole system. When discomfort presents, it is an important factor to consider in creating a therapeutic strategy - especially when working with fertility and pregnancy.
The state of our individual jing is important to our unborn child(ren), as this will be the blueprint for their "prenatal jing" (or, 50% of their life essence). Therefore, it plays a vital role in a woman's ability to conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy to term, in addition to the health of her child.
In fact, conception, pregnancy and breast feeding are some of the the most jing depleting tasks the body endures - making a well-nourished jing before actually having children of paramount importance to a woman's systemic health down the line.
How to Deeply Nourish
Like the winter season, often cold and cutting, we need to nourish jing with rich, nourishing and well-cooked foods. Frozen, raw and cold food items can't penetrate to the level of jing nourishment - no matter how nutrient dense a particular food might be.
We also draw on the doctrine of signatures when seeking out jing nourishing foods - incorporating plants and animal products that resemble a foundation for health. For example, organ meats, bone stocks and bone marrow are some of the number one foods for jing-nourishment - foods that make up the very foundation of a living being. Kidney beans being another one for the simple fact they are shaped like the organ striving for nourishment and balance.
Because jing-nourishing foods are largely animal-based, it's extremely important to source your products correctly. In fact, Traditional Chinese Medicine texts on food-therapy specifically outline the importance of pastured, "gamey" meat as being particularly nourishing to these deeper aspects (whereas industrialized agriculture products do not offer the same benefit).
So take the time to follow your food back to where it came: organically raised, pasture/grass-fed, and humanely treated. These markers will impact not only the nutritional content of your food but also reduce toxicity and improve the energetic resonance within the body.
Top 10 Foods for Jing Nourishment
- Bone Broth, beef or chicken (collagen peptides also work, as a supplement)
- Roasted Marrow
- Liver or Kidney Organ Meat
- Kidney Beans, ideally sprouted for proper nutrient absorption
- Black Strap Molasses
- Wolfberries (GouJi Berries)
- Well-cooked, braised or stewed collard or kale greens
- Black Sesame Seeds
- Sesame Oil
Try incorporating these foods into your regular meal routine! We like to enjoy a mug of bone broth in the morning with breakfast, snack on Gou Ji Berries and Walnuts and add a dash of molasses to soups and stews that simmer in the crock pot all day.