January 2006 >
Emotional Balance into Winter
Emotional Balance Into Winter
Laraine Crampton, L.Ac.
One of a series of essays on the changes of season from the TCM
Emotions are supposed to be fluid. From a TCM way of thinking, it is
healthy for us to feel a wide range of emotions - from happiness, to
various irritations, to sadness and everywhere in between – and the key
is to let feelings come and go on the 'stage' of the heart, rather than
hogging the stage or becoming stuck.
When healthy, the metal element of autumn serves as a beneficial step
towards change: it brings in the harvest of the summer crops and cuts
away the old stubble and unneeded accumulations in order for us to
simplify and prepare for the quiet of winter and the deep, cool currents
of the Water element.
However, we humans don't always 'embrace change' all that easily. We may
become mired in nostalgia or grieve for who or what has passed from our
lives, or stuck in anger or frustration over an obstacle in our path;
sometimes we become confused and hurt when our plans or expectations
work out differently than we hoped, shocked by unanticipated
developments, or find unexpressed anger or unfulfilled wishes
transforming into the stuckness of depression.
The decrease in daylight hours and temperatures may contribute to the
slowing down of emotional change and emphasize melancholy for those of
us who depend on sunshine and warmth to keep us moving briskly.
So, what can we do? We can nourish the Metal/Lung element parent, the
Earth/Spleen, with warm, well-cooked and nutritious foods so that the
parent can encourage the child. Exercise daily and incorporate qigong to
nourish the Spleen, strengthen the Lung contribution to immunity and
adaptability, and refresh and deepen the Kidney element as we move
through the season of Water and winter.
If stuck or depressed, mobilize the Liver/Wood element with purposeful
work/service and exercise in order to eliminate qi stagnation. Engage
your Heart/Fire element to be of service to others, which will help the
grandparent of Metal to better guide the grandchild through life.
Share your thoughts and feelings with others, particularly releasing
those emotions that may be stuck or repeating, and participate in
meditation to nourish and strengthen your wisdom/will in the winter
Be sure you honor Water/Winter by getting to bed early enough and
sleeping long enough through these winter nights (even in Southern
Just as the five elements are not meant to be separated and isolated,
neither are we. If you find yourself spending too much time alone, or
feeling depressed and isolated from others, take action to re-unite with
others by seeking out friends, family, mentors, teachers, and helpful
counselors or therapists, to restore balance and free flow.
The world has had a tough year in '05 with lots of disasters and losses,
but we as healers must recognize that change and moving forward,
releasing the past and embracing the day before us, will allow us to
serve ourselves and others with more balance and joy.