Creating Order from Chaos
Solar Term 14 | August 22 – Sept 6
Making sense of things is one reason why I started paying attention to the way Nature shows up in ourselves. Life can be very disorienting at times and I was looking for a place to orient in order to create a sense of order in the chaos.
This is a time of year when chaos starts to show up as a theme in my clinic. Almost every conversation has been about how people are feeling scattered, overwhelmed, and overtrained. They aren’t sleeping well. Their heart rates are high. They are dehydrated, constipated, and tired of juggling so many things at once. These are signs and symptoms of an imbalance of the Water system.
Water is about your reserves, boundaries, and mental clarity
I also like to contemplate nature and how it shows up in our bodies because it is more relatable and understandable about who we are and how we function than it is in terms like peptides, neurotransmitters, and such. This time of year is about the Water system. Eastern medicine is full of metaphor. Rather than using the terms “nervous system” or “bio-electricity” we use the term Water, with the capital “W” indicating that we are using it as a metaphor for a body system.
The Water system of your body cycles mimics the water system of nature. It cycles through different states, at different times, within different systems. There’s an ebb and flow, a sharing of resources, and a delicate balance that needs to be maintained for the body to function optimally.
Similar to hydroelectric dams which generate energy for the electrical grid, the Water system generates energy as well. It is in the form of “bio-electricity” found in the nervous system. It rises to nourish your mind. It provides mental clarity, calmness, and a natural flow to your thinking. It is the energy for personal evolution and enlightenment. It also operates as a reservoir, a kind of battery, that can be tapped into when needed to push yourself beyond your usual capacity, recover from illness, or a stressful event.
Trouble with Water
Trouble begins when Water is not contained or is without boundaries because it scatters and flows everywhere, randomly and uncontrolled. We might not notice this in our bodies for some time. Instead, it shows up in our mind as being scattered to the point of “freaking out” and “losing it.” What we have actually lost is the stability and peace of our mind. The scattering of our thoughts and hyper-vigilance of our nervous system is exhausting to our will, determination, and reserves. Suddenly, the slightest thing sets us off because we no longer have the reserves to handle our life.
The overflow of the mind and the chaotic quality of your thinking can be slight and in the background, like a faucet dripping or the toilet running. It can also be completely loud, chaotic, and out of control like a roiling river in Kentucky after receiving a foot of rain. The chaos created when Water is out of balance can be hard to rectify.
The subtle aspect of Water can make it insidious and destructive before you even know it’s there. We experience this like a glass of water filled to the brim by everything happening in your life. Each new thought, feeling, and emotion adds just a bit more until the surface tension becomes unbearable. The anticipation of not knowing how much more can you take or how will it look when it finally breaks is unbearable to the point of being unable to act, leaving you devoid of will and frozen.
This chart is another way to visualize the information:
What kind of disease can be created from this kind of disharmony?
Water is such a precious resource and can be reused in so many ways that we want to share water and distribute it throughout the system as much as possible.
This brings us to a concept that we use during acupuncture of making connections between the systems so they can work together and share resources. If the mind is like the hydroelectric dam spinning from the flowing water then there needs to be a place to direct all that energy. This often translates into movement which is healthy and good if you have the capacity to move your body to the level of your mind.
But, if you are pushing yourself beyond your capacity because of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, then it becomes pathological.
Clinically, I frequently see this playing a role in the following conditions:
- Feet: Plantar fasciitis, neuromas, fat pad loss, swelling, stress fractures, non-healing fractures
- Achilles tendonitis/tendinosis/rupture, shin splints
- Knees/hips/elbows/shoulders: Bursitis, chronic tendonitis
- IBS, constipation
- Infertility with irregular BBT, PCOS
- Low back weakness and pain
- Heart failure
- Thyroid disorders
- Tongue issues: Irritated, sore
- Headaches: Tension, cluster, migraines
- Insomnia with difficulty falling asleep
- Brain fog
- Fear states, anxiety, depression, ADHD
Bringing order to chaos: Calm the mind to restore
In Eastern medicine, this chaos can show up as scattered components of ourselves, especially in our thoughts and feelings. We bring order to chaos through peace and harmony of the mind, by creating boundaries around the use of our energy, and flowing effortlessly like water.
The perfect time to check in with yourself about the state of your mind is when you are interacting with water, such as when washing your hands, brushing your teeth, or taking a shower.
- Feel the water against your skin and use the sensation to calm your scattered mind.
- Check in to see if your mind can effortlessly flow like the water. Does this help you achieve a state of balance?
- What are the boundaries you need to fortify to balance your energy output?
- When are you underworking, and when are you pushing too hard?
Harness the power of Water
Water is powerful. Even the smallest amount of unconfined water can create chaos. In nature water needs boundaries to stay functional. In order to stay in a state of balance, we need to have boundaries around our use of energy. They allow you to harness the power of Water which recharges your whole system, calms your mind, and brings order to chaos.
I look forward to sharing the next Solar Term with you. If this helps you, please share it with someone that you think will also enjoy this journey around the sun.