by Chris Hammond M.Ac.,L.Ac.
Emotional health is a very important component of overall health. Out of balance emotions are a significant cause of disease according to Chinese Medicine. This is especially so given modern day stress. Emotion is a term meaning energy in motion, wherever our minds go, energy follows. Emotions are a part of life. We should strive to cultivate positive emotions because they keep our body and mind in harmony. However, it is the negative emotions which are problematic over time. What we generate in our minds become embodied.
The Chinese texts state that anger injures the liver, too much excitement injures the heart, worry injures the spleen, grief injures the lungs, and fear injures the kidneys. Lack of emotion is problematic too, indicating chi deficiency or blockage of the meridians. What we should practice is a balanced emotional life.
Optimally we have equal access to all 5 emotions. They flow through us without getting stuck. Problems arise when we become habituated to one form of emotional expression over others and tend to live from that place. It’s like the needle on a record player that gets stuck in a groove preventing the music from playing on. One indication of this is when someone expresses emotions that are not appropriate to the situation. For instance, someone goes into a rage about bearing a slight inconvenience or someone shows a lack of assertiveness when being taken advantage of. These examples point to a habitual way of being which indicate how the body is functioning or malfunctioning as well.
For most of us these habitual ways of reacting go back to our early life. Over time, layers upon layers of reaction have created the neural circuitry of our bodies. On the body level acupuncture is great at breaking through this body level programming, and mindful awareness is great at reconditioning the mind to respond to the world in a more healthy way.
Emotions are a form of chi. Chi is the immaterial energy of the body and is colored by the emotional lens. This is why acupuncture is so powerful with working with the emotions because it’s working at this causal level. Anger originates from the liver, joy from the heart, worry from the spleen, grief from the lungs, and fear from the kidneys. Acupuncture points along the respective meridians release or reduce excess emotion and supplement deficient emotions. They are powerfully effective at getting you out of the emotional whirl pool and cutting through it. This is why acupuncture is a great compliment or alternative to talk therapy; because it gets down to the energy behind everything. When we are out of the emotionally reactive place then we can approach our life from a fresh place and choose to respond in a more mindful way.