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Winter, the Season of Water and Kidneys
By Master Philip Lai and Edit Mate

December is here and we are reaching the end of the year. We can remind ourselves that by cultivating our qi we can increase our inner light during the cold, dark winter days. We would like to give you some suggestions on how to protect your body and improve your health during the winter season.

According to the Chinese medicine, the water element corresponds with winter and the kidneys. The duties of the kidneys include storing different types of qi, as well as the kidney essence, called jing—the energy essence that transforms to create qi and blood. Fear can damage the kidneys as well as the adrenal glands and reproductive organs. Fear causes qi to sink to the lower abdomen and leave the surface of the body. Qi becomes excess and stagnant in the centre of the body and depleted in the extremities such as hands and feet. Cold hands and feet, lower back pain and excess urination are common symptoms of kidney problems caused by fear.

Fear also affects the adrenal glands that release adrenaline and hydrocortisone. This is a healthy response to a sudden threat but can lead to major problems if prolonged. Chronic fear and stress burns out the stores of energy in the body, shuts down repair and growth processes and damages the immune system. The stress hormones can also damage the areas in the brain responsible for memory and learning.

The following exercise is called the Emotional Healing of the Kidneys: Concentrate on your kidneys and inhale the feeling of wisdom into them. Exhale and expel the feeling of fear. You can repeat this exercise several times.

Protect your kidneys and your whole body from the cold by wearing warm clothes. The kidney meridian point (Ki-1—Yong Quan) is on your soles. Massage them regularly and wear warm boots. When your feet are cold and you cannot rub them directly, direct your qi mentally to your feet. Qi always follows your thoughts.

Breathe through your nose, which can warm and cleanse the air before it gets into your lungs. When the air is too cold to inhale protect your mouth and nose with a soft scarf and breathe through it. When you feel cold rub your palms and place them on your kidneys or any other part of your body that feels cold.

Calm your mind, smile at your organs, and try to absorb as much qi as possible. Go for a walk and clean your lungs with fresh qi from the air. Breathe deeply and enjoy the present moment. Imagine that the sun is a huge qi ball. Grab it, bring it close to your body and inhale it. Qi always follows your mind so whatever you imagine or visualize becomes your reality. See the light of the sun spread inside your body filling up your organs, tissues and cells. When you exhale, visualize that your energy field expands and you become stronger and healthier.

Create a qi ball and fill it up with joy, love, perfect health, patience—or any other quality you need—and place it in your food, drink or the air you inhale. Play with qi and celebrate every moment of your life!