---Sue Noyes, HHC
Have you ever peeked at the last chapter of a book first? That is what we are doing by starting with winter --- the end of all the seasons. Winter is associated with “Water,” the element of tranquility and flow. The element of water also most significantly corresponds to the kidneys, and the accompanying adrenal glands, which represent the root energy of all the organs.
Living “Elemental”: Water
To keep your kidneys healthy, it is important to keep them warm and well hydrated. When you are outside in the cold weather, make sure you are keeping your lower back warm. Longer jackets and coats work well, along with an under-layer that tucks into your pants.
Keep well hydrated by liberally drinking warm teas, especially those with ginger or cinnamon. One way to check on your hydration level is to sip hot water throughout the day; if you are still thirsty by evening, you may have been dehydrated.
Winter is an especially good time to practice fluid exercises like Tai Chi, qigong, and yoga. These practices keep the body flexible, improve circulation, and calm the mind.
Think of a tranquil pool of water. Winter is a time to be still and reflect on your goals and desires for the year ahead. If you have been journaling, reading back through your entries gives perspective. You may realize how far you have come, and also discover your “sticking points” --- issues that still need work. This insight will help you make more targeted plans for the days ahead.
It has been said that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Taking a few minutes at the start of each day to read an inspirational book, pray, or meditate will nurture your spirit. This will bear fruit in how you approach the day ahead. Another way to get more in touch with our spiritual nature is to pay more attention to our dreams --- the flow of our unconscious thoughts. You may want to try keeping a notebook and pen by your bedside, and upon awaking, immediately write down any recollections of your dreams or first thoughts.
Your body will appreciate warm, grounding foods in the winter, such as hearty soups, stews, whole grains, and nuts. Here is a winter soup recipe to brighten your day.
Winter Warm-Up Soup
1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed well
2 quarts filtered water
1 5”piece of kombu, rinsed well
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup winter squash, cut in small chunks
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Miso to taste
Put split peas, water, and kombu in a pot. Heat until just before a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, squash, and salt. Continue to simmer until all vegetables are tender. Dilute the miso with a little stock, and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove kombu if desired. Use the soup as is, or puree in blender for smooth texture. Top with parsley before serving. Serves 8.