After autumn, the season when trees shed their leaves, covering the grass to protect it from frosting, they retract their reserves, their sap away from their branches into their core, and comes Winter. Energy has moved inwards and is now going downwards, back into their roots and seeking water from the underground reserves, as this water will bring them minerals from the soil and the nourishment they will need to grow new buds for Spring. It comes as no surprise that water is the dominant element of winter and salty (minerals) it’s main flavour. Our kidneys, the winter organ, partnered with the bladder, act as our life resource in TCM, they enclose our Jing reserves (life essence, longevity), both inherited at birth, like a battery charge or a trust fund and cultivated through a wholesome diet, lifestyle, and effective stress management. As kidneys are our source of life essence they are also linked to our reproductive organs and TCM practitioners will often aim to support kidney yin yang balance to remedy cases of infertility. The kidneys are therefore aligned to our sacral chakra (Center of creativity) and our root chakra (center of safety, groundedness, birth of primal fear and reactions, fight or flight mode). Other signs of kidney imbalance are dark under eyes, thinning hair, premature greying. The positive emotion that comes from our kidneys is courage, and the negative emotion is fear. So the mental health conditions that are linked to the kidney organ would be the expression of an over fearful behaviour, panic attacks, anxiety. Instead of a moving water we are faced with stagnant dark waters. Winter is a time of darkness, cold temperatures, damp from the snow. A time to slow down, spend more time indoors, sleep more and nourish our kidneys, the keepers of our life essence. Kidney supporting foods & herbs will be dark in colour: black beans, black sesame seeds, Chia seeds, aubergines, jujube dates, rhemannia, goji berries, blueberries, blackberries, seaweeds, black rice. Dishes will be slow cooked like stews and richer, heavier, more nourishing. It is a time to reduce or remove all sources of stress, adapt your lifestyle and routine to more yin practices. It is a time to look inwards and face the shadows that arise to the surface, to connect to your lineage and your ancestors, it is likely our shadows are the result of trauma from this life, or past life’s or even inherited intra generational trauma. Overall, it is still the time to go outside when the elements allow it and to spend time in nature, for our bodies to still take in some light, some vitamin D and to connect with the changes happening around us.