Phase Element Water

Water is one of the five phases of the five-element doctrine (Wu Xing), which describes the laws of natural phenomena. This theory is applied in practice, for example in acupuncture.

Phase Element Water | Functional Circuits | Pulse Quality

Well, in man the phase element water corresponds to plant seeds in nature, which rest in the soil during winter until new growth in spring, preserving the year’s essence, the most valuable of any previous existence. It’s like our own collective existence which we owe to our roots, our basis for new growth. As long as we still have a connection to our past, as long as we are aware of our roots, we can draw life power from them. It [the phase element water] is a force that keeps the sudden, explosive energy of [the phase element] wood grounded and protects us from excessive activity. That way the focus remains on the essence of this transformation: not activity but the acquisition of new resources.
Lorenzen 2000, 45

Water is the essence of structivity, it is calmness, a deliberate use of energy and quiet activity through letting go of: Wu Wei.
Lorenzen 2000, 199

Functional Circuits and Pulse Quality

Two functional circuits are associated with phase element water: Kidney (KI) and Bladder (BL), whereby Kidney is particularly relevant for our investigations. In the following some quotations.

Functional Circuit Kidney (Meridian)

On a mental-emotional level this is man’s ability to establish an inner connection with the environment. It is about being aware of the boundaries of our own field. The kidney allows this awareness to penetrate deeply inside. It gives us an inner reference, a personal concern through feeling. It creates depth which may lead to an understanding of a comprehensive cosmic truth[. …]
and gives us strength for the continuation of life. Lorenzen 2000, 254

The ears open towards the outside – but they allow impulses to touch our very souls[. …] The ability to hear and our sense of balance […] give us orientation in space. Lorenzen 2000, 257

The kidney – and with it the phase element water – conserve the basic, the essential, that what transcends generations, beyond our individual existence. Wisdom, the summary of life and decades of experience and will power, rest within it. It initiates action emanating from personal strength. Lorenzen 2002, 227

The kidneys […] store our ancestral energy. They hold the essence that gives both the egg and the sperm the potential to create new life. Here also are our deepest reserves that we can call on at times of greatest need. Out of this vital inherited energy comes will, purpose, vitality and strength. […] The kidneys contain a rich and concentrated  energy source that gives tremendous reserves. […] It is within the kidneys that our spiritual inheritance lies. Kaatz 2005, 515

Pulse Quality Water

The pulse quality that is associated with phase element water is Chen Mai, the pulse that is deep; Chen Mai  is also described as stony, rocky pulse, in the sense of low-lying, gentle, sliding.
Chen means to sink, to drown, sinking, deep; the Chinese character contains the water radical Shui, next to it a person who retires and leaves a room.

A pulse that can not be felt until strong pressure is exercised on the wrist’s tendon and bone, is called decreasing or low pulse. Lorenzen 2000, 166

Similarly, with Chen Mai the pulse wave sinks into the depths and seems to leave the ordinary pulse area. Only with firm pressure beneath the flesh but above the bone, we can feel its presence again. Lorenzen 2000, 166

It feels like a cotton ball on sand, soft on the surface, but strong and firm on the ground. You can only feel it when you look for it, it is like a stone in the water. It is deep and weighed down, like water that naturally sinks to the bottom. Li Shizhen, Bin Hu Mai Xue

Kaatz, Debra. 2005. Characters of Wisdom: Taoist Tales of the Acupuncture Points. The Petite Bergerie Press.
Lorenzen, Udo. 2002. Die Wandlungsphasen Der Traditionellen Chinesischen Medizin: Holz. 1 Holz. München: Müller und Steinicke.
Lorenzen, Udo. 2000. Die Wandlungsphasen Der Traditionellen Chinesischen Medizin: Wasser. 5 Wasser. München: Müller & Steinicke.