How Full is Your Reservoir?

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

How Full is Your Reservoir?, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA

In California, we receive most of our rain and snow between October and May.  Because we receive very little precipitation during the summer, we rely on the melting snow to fill our reservoirs with water to see us through the dry summer months.  If the snowpack is low, there will be insufficient snowmelt to fill our reservoirs and provide water for our needs.  After the recent five years of drought, we are all well aware of the need to conserve and use water wisely; meeting our future needs depends on having a full reservoir.

We can apply this same idea to our Qi (vital energy).  Your Qi is a precious resource, just as water is during a drought.

The fall and winter months are also the time of year to build up our reserves.  This is when nature is slowing down, leaves fall from trees, growth stops, and the world becomes darker and quieter.  Winter, in Chinese culture, is associated with the Water element and the Kidneys.  It is the time of year for us to imitate nature - to turn inward, to hibernate, and to replenish ourselves - to rebuild and restore our reserves so that we have them at our disposal for the big burst of activity and growth in the spring and summer.

Kidney Qi naturally declines as people age, but lifestyle has a profound effect on how rapidly the decline takes place.  Traditionally, the two things that really depleted the Kidney Qi were too much physical labor and too much sex (particularly for men.  Women’s Kidney Qi was depleted by overwork and bearing too many children.) These days our Qi is more likely to be affected by other things such as negative emotions, too much social media, worry, anxiety, stress, overwork. Working too hard, a stressful job or home life, eating on the run, junk food, upset emotional states, overexercising, and sleep deprivation all take their toll.

Because each person’s constitution and needs are different, being aware of your energy drains is so important - they may not be the same as someone else’s.  Your body is a trustworthy guide and has amazing wisdom to share.

There are three parts to replenishing your Qi.  The first step is to notice your energy drains.  Who or what causes you to feel tired?  What makes you feel like water scattered all over the pavement?

The second step is boundaries.  Water needs a container or boundaries to be its most powerful, whether as banks of a river or pipes that water flows through.  Are your boundaries strong enough or do they have leaks?  Can you identify what and where in your life they are?  What can you do to shore up the banks to keep your energy intact?

The third step is to notice what replenishes your reserves, and then do more of it.  If you’re not sure, think about what makes you feel whole.  What fills your reserves at the deepest level?  Laughter?  Healthy food?  Sleep?  Time in nature?

In Chinese medicine, the focus is on living a long, healthy life, which is accomplished by having moderate habits. When our emotions or lifestyle habits are out of balance, we use extra Qi.

I'd love to hear what you think. How do you keep own reservoir full? Post your comments below.