The Kidney and Bladder meridians make up the Land of Chih in Chinese Medicine. Chih is the aspect of the psyche responsible for strength of character, power of personality, vitality, enthusiasm, and sexual energy." It is the seat of resolution. It is the psychic force which give us the energy to move through and around obstacles to our growth, to being our real Self." The image is WATER, a universal symbol for the unconscious. The Kidneys and Bladder literally have a water function, as they regulate water metabolism. When the Kidney meridian is deficient, our energy levels plummet and we are liable to feel fearful, timid, inadequate, and inferior. We may experience fatigue, hypersensitivity to cold, ear problems or tinnitus, dizziness upon standing, hair loss, knee problems, menopausal hot flashes, night sweats, low back pain, brittleness of bones, and decreased sexual desire.
The extreme emotions that rule the Kidneys have to do with fear, apprehension, inadequacy, phobias, mistrust, paranoia, and superiority or inversely, inferiority. The synergic state is resolution and will power and an abundant supply of reserve energy. The Kidneys store the Essence or Jing (translated as 'Kidney essence' or 'inherited Qi'), the substance that underlies life and is the foundation of all vital processes. The Essence or "Ching-Ch'i" represents our reserve energy, which can be released to any organ or body part as needed.
This is the fourth blog in The Five Element Theory Series. Please check out the first three to understand the basic premise of Five Element Theory, plus they may just relate to you!
The Kidney Meridian
The Kidney Meridian is the "strengthening officer" and the Controller of Water. It influences the bones, marrow, and brain, and as such, strengthens the posture and gives vigor and stamina to the entire bodymind system. "It is important for growth, for the maintenance of vitality, and to prevent premature aging." All life processes are influenced by the Kidney energy. While all meridians transport energy, the Kidney meridian has the "special function of governing the energy reserves which allow adaptation to life's continuous changes."
The Kidney meridian also influences the adrenal and parathyroid glands, and it expresses itself through the ears and head hair. Signs of weak Kidney energy include impaired hearing or high-pitched ringing in the ears, and the growth and condition of the head hair depends on the strength of the Kidney Jing (Essence). The Kidneys rule the Bones and Marrow. The Marrow is formed from Jing, and Jing nourishes the bones, so Jing controls the growth and healing of the bones. "Insufficient Jing can manifest in deterioration of bones, stiffness of the spine, weakness of the feet, or chronic tooth problems."
Signs of deficient Kidney energy include forgetfulness, insomnia, dizziness (especially upon standing). Also, Kidney deficiency affects any other Zang (Yin meridian). "For example, night sweats are a sign that the Kidney energy is deficient, with the Lungs also being influenced. In insomnia or fearfulness, the Heart is likely to be influenced by the Kidney deficiency. When the Spleen is influenced, there may be indigestion and early morning diarrhea, because the Yuan (source or original) Qi is not able to help convert the food in the Stomach. When the Liver is influenced, there may be headaches and dizziness."
Traditional Kidney Meridian Associations
Deficient symptoms include cold extremities, decreased sexual desire, fearfulness and timidity, hypertension, menopausal hot flashes, night sweats, nosebleeds, shivering or trembling, hot palm and soles of feet. Excessive symptoms include excess sexual desire and extreme anxiety.
Extreme Emotions of Chih
Fear becomes destructive when there is no resolution of the fear and when its energy is not used constructively. It becomes non-adaptive when it's habitual, and habitual fear may arise from our own tormenting thoughts. It becomes so habitual that we believe the fearful thoughts are our actual reality. Fear initiates a natural stress response, whether it be a low-level fear or anxiety about the future or a "fear of fear"--the fear that threatening things may happen and it will be out of our control. "The emotion of fear can rage from apprehension and agitation to alarm, dread, or terror. Sudden fear may be followed by a pounding heart and we may break out into a cold sweat."
"Chronic fearfulness, on the other hand, is draining. This constant anticipatory state leads to weakness and exhaustion, for it's like running the bodymind motor too fast and too long. The continual hyperactivity puts pressure on the whole bodymind system, and depletes the adaptive energy."
-Iona Teeguarden, The Joy of Feeling
Fear releases the reserve energy, or "ching ch'i", to energize the system for necessary emergency reactions. "Fear also releases adrenalin, which is like a messenger for liberating the energy reserves and putting the body on "red alert." The Kidney functions correspond with the adrenal glands, which cover the upper surface of the kidneys and secrete hormones influencing almost all of our body systems.
Fear and anger are both related emergency responses or "fight or flight" responses. Fear can give rise to anger, and anger can be a way of either releasing the energy stimulated by fear or covering up our fear. "If we can neither flee nor express anger, then both options of the "fight or flight" response are blocked are we are defenseless. Lack of self-trust or the threat of pain from a seemingly superior force can reduce us to this state of helplessness."
We can strengthen the Kidney meridian by building up energy reserves, which depends on the well-being of the whole bodymind system. Since the reserve energy of the Kidneys is tapped whenever there is a need for energy in any part of our bodymind system, it's important to learn how to take in more energy and take care of physical and psychological problems that are draining that energy.
Will and Resolution
To transform fearfulness into resolution, it is necessary to face that which is feared. The healthy resolution of fearfulness is not the lack of fear, but rather an appropriate use of the energy created by the fear. Developing a sense of personal power allows us the self-confidence and inner strength to face our fears. Will and resolution are controlled by the Kidney energy. This is the energy and motivation to will something-- to have a strong and fixed purpose, firmness of resolve, and the energy to carry it out. Resolution awakens an inner power, a "willpower." Fear, in itself, "can unleash the energy and resolution needed to resolve difficulties and survive dangers." An unhealthy or imbalanced state, however, would be characterized by chronic fearful thoughts or apprehension.
The instinctive response to fear is to escape; will is the force that enables such an escape. Will, however, does not diminish fear. It enables a person to face their fears and stand on their own ground. This means getting in touch with an inner power and strength to resolve difficulties. "Chih is the aspect of the psyche related to this inner strength, which allows us to move forward towards being all of our changing Selves, in each changing moment."
Hara Breathing is also an excellent method to rejuvenate and revitalize Kidney energy. The "hara" is an energy center located about two inches beneath the navel. It is in the Hara that the source Qi gathers and forms an energy reservoir.
How to Do Hara Breathing
You can practice Hara breathing anywhere and anytime, however, it may be best to reduce stress and anxiety if you can find a quiet, peaceful place. You can sit on a chair or on the floor or lie down on your back with your knees bent. First, tune into your body and breathe naturally. Allow your shoulders and jaws to drop, relaxing your neck and forehead. Then, while placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth, inhale slowly through your nose for a count of five seconds. Release your tongue and gently exhale through your mouth for a count of five seconds.
As you inhale, focus your attention on the hara a couple inches beneath the navel. Allow your abdomen to expand as your diaphragm moves down in a full, gentle breath, then let your abdomen relax as you exhale completely. It is suggested to keep the breath consistent, without a break between your inhale and exhale.
Teeguarden, Iona Marsaa. The Joy of Feeling. Tokyo and New York: Japan Publications, INC., 1987. Print.
Teeguarden, Iona Marsaa. (2009). Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® Intermediate Handbook (2). Idyllwild, CA: Iona Marsaa Trust.
Teeguarden, Iona Marsaa. (2009). Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® Advanced Supplement. Idyllwild, CA: Iona Marsaa Trust.
Specializing in Trauma-Informed Somatic Touch, Jin Shin Do® Acupressure, & Thai Yoga Bodywork