The Heart as emperor lives well protected at the center of the nation.
No injury must come to the heart and as long as the heart’s function is intact, there is always hope of healing.
~~ Nei Jing Su Wen
The Great Yang season of Summer is upon us. Yang energy is bright, fiery and hot like the midday sun. Yang is the counterbalance to Yin, which is expressed in the cooling, calming, night time energies of life. Together, Yin & Yang, like night & day, represent the dynamic balance between the opposing, but complementary forces that make up all of existence as they ceaselessly intermingle in the sacred dance of all life cycles. The evolving seasons are a perfect demonstration of this balance in motion, and as we turn the corner into summer, we reach a pinnacle in the cycle, the summer solstice. Summer is known as the “Great Yang” season because of this peak in the yang energy: the sun (ultimate yang energy) is closest to the earth and the day (yang time) is the longest at this time of year.
In the season of Summer and Great Yang, the Heart, representing Fire, is the governing organ according to the Five Phases. Classical Chinese medicine informs us that the Heart, known as the “benevolent, enlightened emperor,” is the sovereign ruler over the kingdom of 12 meridians and connected organ systems, including the physical, emotional, mental and subtle energetics. The Heart is the regulator of the entire human being, housing the Shen/spirit, and the Shen’s presence shines from a person’s eyes and face. While all emotions are processed through the Heart, it is the emotion of Joy that is closely identified with the Heart. A life lived in accordance with the destiny of the innermost Heart results in Joy, and connectedness to all aspects of Self.
The tongue is known as “the sprout of the Heart” and in most spiritual traditions, as well as in Classical Chinese medicine, speech is regarded as a power force and we are encouraged to speak the truth from our Heart space. The ancient Chinese also believed that the Heart was the center of perception itself, and current researchers in neuroscience have referred to the heart as the “little brain.” Some fascinating research in the realm of heart transplant surgery shows that recipients often report experiencing the memories of the donor’s heart. (The Heart’s Code, by Dr. Paul P. Pearsall). This phenomena correlates with the ancient Chinese observation of how the Heart plays a distinct role in clarity of mind as well as good memory.
The Heart controls the blood, the blood vessels and is in charge of circulating the blood through the vessels, nourishing the interior organs to support the entire body. Chinese medicine theory appoints specific times of day to the 24 hour cycle of energies within our body, and 11:00 am to 1:00 pm is the time of the Heart. Lunch time, when the energy is strongest in the Heart meridian, is also a time when our digestive fire is strong, so enjoy a mid-day meal! Blood tonifying foods like dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli rabe, black beans, brussel sprouts, celery, cinnamon and cucumbers all support Heart health. Foods that are red or dark in color are beneficial as well. Consider persimmons, pomegranates, berries, tomatoes, red beets, red/leafy greens, salmon, red lentils and lean red meat, all known to protect cell membranes, maintain vessel elasticity, healthy blood flow and are chock-full of antioxidants. All of these foods support the fire element and ensure a blood-rich safe haven for the mind to rest, as well as an adequate supply of blood to carry that energy of consciousness throughout the body.
While we are aware of the integral role the Heart plays in supporting and maintaining the physical body, it is the Chinese medicine concept of Shen residing in the Heart that deserves more attention and consideration. Carl Sagan (1934-1996), the Brooklyn NY native, astrophysicist and planetary astronomer said, “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” What he described is akin to how Chinese medicine practitioners view the body, and the person in the body, so perhaps allow your Self to suspend disbelief and shift the paradigm you’ve been in to allow this expansive view of your magnificent Being. And for added measure, read this article, “Are we made of stardust?”, to learn a bit more about how our Universe and the human race came into form. You can also watch this 3 minute video, “We’re All Made of Stardust. Here’s How.”
The separation of body and mind in the conventional medical system is at odds with the Chinese model of interconnectedness of the human body-mind-spirit. As a result, many dis-eases of the body and mind are treated separately and without regard for how one influences the other. A modern Chinese term for psychosomatic medicine is “xingshen bingxue” which translates into the science of how physical form and spirit relate in the disease forming process, reinforcing the belief that the body influences the mind and vice-versa. Clinicians who work with trauma know first hand that much disharmony results from emotions that were unexpressed, or overly expressed, and physical manifestations range from anxiety to addictions, insomnia, mania, depression, palpitations, high blood pressure, varicose veins, digestive issues, musculoskeletal pain and more.
Because the mind is linked directly to the Heart, what goes on in your mind plays a role in the health of your Heart. Maintaining a positive mindset and choosing optimism can greatly impact the health of the Heart system. Common suggestions to ease the pressure on the Heart include regular meditation, gentle exercise, journaling, seeking out like-minded community, spending time in nature, practicing forgiveness and learning to be present with loved ones. It’s also important to hold yourself with compassion and gratitude, actively seeking to fill your life with positive influences, one day at a time.
What role does the enlightened benevolent emperor play in your life? And how are you tending to the precious ruler of your earthly house?
If you have experienced any of the physical or emotional symptoms related to the Heart organ system, give us a call to schedule an assessment, treatment plan/protocol and Acupuncture session. Treatments help decrease stress, reduce systemic inflammation, improve circulation throughout the body, stimulate oxygen and lymph flow, calm the nervous system and balance digestion, sleep, hormones and cortisol levels, everything your Heart desires!
“If the spirit is at peace, the Heart is in harmony; when the Heart is in harmony, the body is whole; if the spirit becomes aggravated the Heart wavers, and when the Heart wavers the body becomes injured; if one seeks to heal the physical body, therefore, one needs to regulate the spirit first.”
~~ Liu Zhou, 6th Century philosopher