Water The Element of Power and Patience

January 9, 2015 Updated: January 9, 2015

In the philosophy of Chinese Medicine, there are five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. These five elements are not simply the materials associated with each of the names, but rather they are metaphors for describing how things interact and relate to each other. Each of the Five Elements represents an aspect of a dynamic process and phases of change.

Water is the element of winter; therefore this is a good month to discuss it. Water is one of the most powerful elements. In nature, we have seen water’s dangerous wrath, remember the tsunami in Southeast Asia? Yet water is also patient and slow. We see how water can slowly smooth the surface of a rock by years of continual gentle persistence. From these examples, we understand that Water represents fluidity, or the ability to “go with the flow.” I really appreciate this aspect – water is quiet, still, and patient, yet unyielding, determined, and unstoppable. Water has the ability to adapt, to go with the flow when necessary, to exercise determination when needed and to be a source of growth and nourishment.

The Tao symbol is often compared to water: clear, colorless, and able to form itself as both a wave and a little trickle.(Shutterstock*)

For my logo, I use the Chinese symbol that signifies The Tao. Tao Te Ching, better known as The Tao is a book written by Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher. Literally translated, The Tao means “the way”. It is the source of great wisdom and some famous Chinese sayings such as, “Even a 1,000 mile journey starts with a single step”.

The Tao symbol is often compared to water: clear, colorless, and able to form itself as both a wave and a little trickle. All beings depend on water for life and even the hardest stone cannot stand in its way forever. I love the symbolism of water in TCM because water represents the epitome of adaptability and strength all at once.

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at www.tcm007.com.

 *Images of “water” and “man” via Shutterstock