The Water Element

Each element in Chinese Medicine has gifts, movements, strengths, weaknesses, and is of the utmost importance for a balanced life. Without one element the whole system falls apart. For a general overview of what the elements are check out this article. Today, I am going to talk about the water element.

Water in Nature

What can we observe from water in nature? It freezes, it evaporates, it forms rivers and contains the majority of life on this planet. One thing about water is that it is rarely not moving. It will always push forward. Water is also patient and consistent. Canyons are slowly formed over thousands of years from exposure to water. In humans, water can be associated with willpower.

Humans as Nature

Deep listening, courage, fear, and our deepest reserves for life exist in the Water Element of humans. Water is our core knowing and pools of wisdom. It is the seed under the ground, lying dormant, gathering energy and essential life force. In the seasonal cycle, water is the same frequency as winter. We need awareness, reserves, and the ability to sit with the unknowing in order to survive through winter. This concept was particularly true in ancient society! Through the water element, we know vigilance and courage. The idea is we cannot take action and live fully in our lives if we don’t take the time to be in a place of receptivity and presence.

How Water May Show up in People

In this medicine, everything is a frequency. When we talk about elements, we are talking about a specific frequency in people that matches a frequency in nature (such as a season). Everyone has their own personal way of manifesting and projecting these elements. Some people may have a particularly high or low frequency of water for example, and that is what acupuncturists are looking at. As part of a diagnosis, acupuncturists are trained to examine different qualities and traits of patients, and assess how all of the elements are manifesting. When a person whose main frequency is water shows up out of balance, here is what it can look like:

Water in excess – Unable to be reassured, phobic, pessimistic, hyper-vigilant, excessive anticipation, withdrawn. When a person allows the future and unknown variables to control their life, fear becomes the norm. Water is all about preparedness and resources right? So if a person feels their life is threatened, they go into the water to find their survival kit. But out of balance, an individual may feel they need that survival kit every single day. If you go camping with an excessive water element, you will have three of everything you didn’t even know you needed.

Water as deficient – Reckless, bravado, excessively daring, hypo-vigilant, unmeasured. On the flipside of too much fear and over preparedness comes the daring and the unencumbered. Deficient water can look like excessive gambling or throwing away precious resources. Where a fearful water can often freeze and be resistant to change, this type of water person is like a rapid and constantly in flux, unable to remain still. This can translate to wasting precious resources in the body as well.

This is just a snapshot of qualities acupuncturists see of this element. One could write a whole book about each element and all of its frequencies and attributes. Stay tuned for the next article as we explore the frequency of spring time and the wood element.