In Chinese Medicine, the Heart is considered the Supreme Controller. The Human Being is not a democracy, but is ruled by the Heart as Emperor.
“Does this serve the Heart?” is the important question to ask about all choices. If we stray from service to the Heart, we become out of balance, we lose the harmony of physical, emotional, and spiritual health. This truth is reflected in society as a whole, as well as in individuals.
Each element and organ system, each aspect of our self, has a function on the physical level and also on the level of spirit, mind and emotion. In the Chinese system, the organs are part of the governance of the body, each with a ministerial role. In government, all parts are meant to support the founding principles and to function as part of a larger system. If one aspect becomes too strong or powerful or too weak or lax, the government as a whole suffers.
The Wood Element, the Liver, serves as the spirit of the Planner or General, driving the individual forward with purpose and determination. The upward growth of life in spring is a reflection of the upward surging qi of the Liver which moves past all obstacles in its quest to realize its vision and express its nature. This is the energy of activism. The pathological expression of its nature is found in anger or frustration – when the determination to express oneself meets the limits that life imposes. One common challenge is when the function of the Liver is overdeveloped and it neglects its mandate to serve the Heart. We choose to be right instead of happy, we fight for what we believe in, no matter who gets hurt, we want to do and have what we want, despite the cost. Bringing more Heart into the function of the Liver is to bring compassion and wholeness into our work in the world, without sacrificing our principles, vision, or determination. This is the transformation of anger to constructiveness.
Grief, the emotion of Metal and the Lung, can be an end in itself if we indulge in a victim mentality. “Look how hard it is for me.” We seek to justify and understand our lack of feelings of self worth by staying stuck in an image of struggle. If we use the capacity of Metal to serve the Heart, we can transform grief into nostalgia and appreciation. The Fire of the Heart can warm and soften the edge of Metal so that we can accept loss and change and shine loving compassion on ourselves to nurture our own resourcefulness and ability to find inspiration. We can grow out of needing special attention, blaming, resenting, and whatever coping methods we use to dampen the feelings of worthlessness. The warmth of the Heart can help us understand that we are meant to move towards a connection to spirit. We do not have to focus on how far we are from divinity in this human state, a common Metal pathology.
The Kidneys and the Water element are associated with fear. Fear can be a driving force as we deal with survival issues, it can cause us to be greedy and grasping. Stress can deplete the adrenals and cause damage to the kidneys if we allow fear to run us, using stress as a motivator. Healthy Heart Qi descends and warms the Kidneys and the water of the Kidneys ascends and cools and moistens the Heart. A balance between the Heart and the Kidneys is essential or we can have restlessness, insomnia, headaches, even mania. We have to cultivate our Heart’s ability to trust as a balance to the stress, concerns and fears of life so that we can take compassionate action and stay rooted in the present time, not burning ourselves out or driving ourselves to exhaustion.
The Heart knows without words, the Heart is acceptance, compassion, warmth, and love. The knowing of the Spleen is about the mind and thought. Sometimes our thinking is circular and we worry and over-think something without any solution. In Chinese Medicine any thought that is not productive is pathological. Worry is indigestion of the mind. Opening the flow of qi from the Spleen to the Heart can sometimes bring calm knowing into a worrisome situation. Often a solution comes from a compassionate Heart space open to insight and forgiveness, not from thought.
If our Heart is open, we can connect to others at a satisfying level. Through the Heart, we can connect deeply to the spirit that is alive in us and in others. A group heart is created when people are connected by heart energy. This will not be as evident if we stay stuck in our heads, harden our heart against hurt, or look to manipulate or control. We can expand our personal limits by connecting to the group heart, feeling the compassion and love generated by a circle of care. You can help heal another by opening your own heart to spirit, allowing your heart to fill and overflow, and sending them heart energy, through the connection of the group heart. This helps them connect their own heart to spirit, to their divine self, the source of healing.
Acupuncture, acupressure, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and other modalities are tools that can help us to balance our energies and bring them back into service of the Heart. Working with meridians and organ systems can effectively harmonize the flow of qi and strengthen those areas that need more energy, and release stagnation and congestion from areas that are “stuck.” Certain acupuncture protocols can help the Heart regain its rightful place as Emperor.
Imagine the world if we all as individuals functioned in a balanced way, so that we understood about happiness and compassion, and were no longer motivated by fear, anger, greed, blame, resentment, etc. Imagine if our organizations reflected our values and served compassionately with a bottom line of happiness, fairness, justice, and right action. Imagine if we connected to others through our heart, and always felt connected to the group heart of mankind. Just imagining makes my heart soar!