Are You a Water Person?

"Under heaven, nothing is more soft and yielding than water. Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better. It has no equal." ~ Tao te Ching

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Continuing onto a recent topic about the Water element in Chinese medicine... one in which I left you dangling with suspense, I'm sure, with promises of a post about the psychological/emotional associations.

Water is about flow, purity, depth and power. In our bodies, it's about how well fluid is circulated throughout, how efficiently our internal cooling system is functioning, and about genetic heritage (think flow..).

The tendency of movement for water is to always sink to the lowest point possible. From this comes the capacity to store, providing a reservoir of replenishment, and to root and steady us. But in an imbalanced situation, this downward tendency can be experienced as depression.

The emotional association with Water is fear. Combine with this with its spiritual capacity of Will, and you have the element that gives us the will to live. Being that the meridians and organs governed by Water are the Kidneys and the Bladder, (and in TCM the adrenal glands which sit atop the kidneys are included), we can see that the 'fight or flight' mechanism that kicks in when one's survival is threatened is the healthier expression of this fear. 

From a Zen shiatsu perspective, in which the placement of the meridians on the body describe their function, the Water meridians (especially the Bladder which traverses the entire length of the back of the body) provides impetus (think: "prepare to run") ... as in a force that pushes us forward, like rushing water. A weakened water element may be expressed as a lack of will, while one imbalanced to the other extreme can lead to busy-ness for the sake of busy-ness but without forward movement. 

The book, "Shiatsu: Theory and Practice", says the Bladder meridian governs the back.. the spine, and the physical structure. The Bladder points along the spine communicate most directly with the nervous system, providing an almost instant relaxation response when pressed.

Psychologically, the Bladder meridian gives us determination... our "backbone". But the back also embodies many aspects of ourselves that we repress or put behind us, while presenting a 'false front' to the world. Fear, jealousy, guilt, repression of sexual longings (and in other schools of thought: concerns about money, basic security and survival) all can manifest as back pain and other issues. This baggage can interfere with the forward flow of impetus, as well as lead to the sinking nature of depression and fatigue.

You may be a Water Person if you:

  • indulge your imagination
  • are introspective
  • can be honest and blunt, though not necessarily tactful
  • prefer solitude or privacy over intimacy or socializing
  • consider yourself self-sufficient in or out of a relationship
  • can rely on deep reserves of energy when needed to plug through a project
  • find yourself always with endless tasks to perform and deadlines to meet

You may have a Water Element Imbalance if you:

  • tend toward issues with hormones, bones, hair, teeth, hearing, fatigue, bladder or kidney function
  • have fears and phobias that feel life-threatening
  • work past the point of exhaustion, relying on will and even stimulants to keep going
  • or conversely, feel fatigue or exhaustion at the slightest efforts, draining you of will to complete even simple tasks
  • tendency toward feeling cold, especially accompanied by low back pain
  • crave a salty taste
  • have dark circles under the eyes

For a more complete psycho/physio assessment of your element, download this!