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Happy Holidays! On Winter and the Water Element

Happy Holidays! On Winter and the Water Element

by Grace Ganel

I hope the holidays are treating you well - this time of year is full of joy and excitement for people of all backgrounds and faiths. And now as we’re starting to see some snow and very cold weather in the Baltimore-Washington area, there’s no denying that it’s truly winter. I’ve heard from several people lately that they’re struggling to get into the “holiday spirit,” so I would like to address the nature of the Water element and the Winter, as the “holiday spirit” is, in reality, quite opposite to the overall energetic of Winter.

Remember my previous post on Yin and Yang - Winter is the most Yin time of year. It is a time for looking inward, consolidating one’s energy, resting, and preparing for the coming year of growth and development. Within the conversation of Yin and Yang, as Yang increases (in the summer), it eventually turns and becomes the Yin (from Fall into Winter). Each year, this cycle occurs again. So now, in our most Yin time of year, we must embrace the Yin nature of Winter and allow ourselves to be restful and pensive.

And, we can view the holidays as the Yang within the Yin, for they are never separate, and one will never see Yin without Yang and vice-versa. So long as we do engage in the lessons of the Winter time, it can be natural to engage in a little Yang, a little celebration and excitement. It is when we fail to embrace what the natural world is doing that we become ill. When we are all Yang - work and play and excitement - and we try to add on top of that the frenzy of the holidays, we overextend ourselves and exhaust the Yin in our bodies. Yin and Yang are mutually consuming - when one increases, the other decreases, because they fuel one another.

Within the philosophies of Chinese medicine and cosmology (remember, Chinese medicine is applied Chinese philosophy), humans are one with nature, humans are nature. The same models can be seen again and again on different scales, the same laws applied on every level, because the laws of nature dictate all forms. I invite you to embrace the Yin this holiday season, and let the festivities of your choosing be the speck of Yang within the sea of Yin.

May your holidays be filled with love, peace, joy, and rest.

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