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The Emotional Aspects of The Heart According to Chinese Medicine

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“A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13

In almost every culture there is a thought process that the heart holds emotion or the mind. Hence sayings like “follow your heart.” The Chinese culture is no different.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Heart houses the mind and controls the shen

Think of the shen as the affect. The shen reflects the overall healthiness of the mind. Have you ever looked into the eyes of someone suffering from depression, or even something as severe as schizophrenia? You can tell when someone is not their healthiest emotionally or psychologically just by peering into their eyes. Perhaps you have noticed that while looking into someone’s eyes they were shifting from side to side, or maybe they just seemed cloudy and dull. Almost as if they were not fully present in the moment. Perhaps they seemed dazed and confused. This person does not have a healthy shen. An emotionally healthy person has a certain bright clarity that shines from within.

It is the Heart’s job to maintain appropriate timing in life

For example, if a person wore a Batman costume to a Halloween Party, his heart is doing its job. However, if this person wore a Batman costume to a business meeting and screamed “I am Batman” it meant that his Heart was not allowing him to make the right choice for the circumstance.

The Heart is all about maintaining appropriate behavior for specific situations. In cases of mental illness, you might notice certain behavior patterns: inappropriate speech or tone of voice, making unsafe decisions, misjudging situations and social cues.

The Heart is not innately about moderation

A TCM practitioner’s favorite thing to say is “everything in moderation.” However, the Heart is an organ of extremes. It can go from wild joy to crushing lows. These extremes are not sustainable, and a person can burn out quickly. Think of someone with bi-polar: manic highs, followed by extreme depression. Basically, your Heart system can be like crashing after too much Red Bull.

Bi-polar, anxiety, depression, and ADHD are all considered to be the result of a Heart imbalance; the hyperactivity is a result of the Heart not properly regulating the mind.

About the author

Teri Calandra

Teri Calandra Dipl.Acu, MSTOM, L.Ac., LMT, RMT

Teri began her studies in energy medicine as part of her own personal development journey, and continues to to learn and integrate that knowledge into her practice. Teri is the founding practitioner of Calandra Center for Health & Wellness in Schaumburg, Illinois. She is licensed by the State of Illinois in acupuncture (L.Ac.), and board certified through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

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