Sometimes it can feel as though we have no control over our emotions. Instead, they control us. When we lose our control and emotions fall out of balance, it can lead to physical pain.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, believes that the emotions we experience relate directly to the health of our organs. It understands how intense emotions can take a physical toll on our body. More than that, they can affect how well the organs actually function. TCM also believes in the concept of Qi. Qi refers to our life force, and extreme emotion can damage our Qi. Learning the connection between our emotions and organs helps us to take care of them both.
The Heart and Joy/Over excitement
Rushes of emotion seem to pump through the heart like blood. When we see someone we love, our heart starts beating in double time. Big bursts of happiness seem to be expressed by our heart beat booming. And when our heart starts to flutter, isn’t that from that painful mixture of excitement and apprehension?
It comes as no surprise that joy is linked to the heart. After all, the heart is the organ we most associate with love. However, with joy comes finding balance. Too much joy becomes over excitement, and too little is depression.
When the balance falls off, the symptoms can be seen as restlessness, insomnia, palpitations, nightmares, and mania. The heart functions to regulate the blood circulation, and give us a steady, strong, and even pulse. We understand the heart health in our tongue, our complexion, and our arteries.
We should strive for calm to keep our heart healthy. When an emotion like joy falls out of balance, it comes in the extremes. Maintaining calm allows us to experience joy, while facing life with a steady approach.
The Lungs and Sadness/Grief
Grief can seem like a weight inside the body that drains you. People living with sadness feel as though their body is being depleted of its natural resources. This is because sadness is linked to the lungs, and the lungs play a vital part in maintaining the body. The lungs are said to distribute the Qi throughout the body. When they’re blocked and weak, our life force can’t spread. Instead, the Qi dissipates, leaving us low and lifeless.
If the lungs are weighed down with sadness, the body can encounter many problems. Energy becomes low, and the nervous system is weakened. The chest gets tight, breath gets short, and some even experience asthma. TCM believes the lungs are connected to the skin and the pores. When we feel sadness, this outer layer becomes dull and weakened, lacking moisture.
Lungs take in new air and breath out the old. With that, we can bring new emotions into our lives. The lungs help us to let go, to refresh the system. Deep breathing, and making an effort to throw out the old thoughts, helps us to clear the body of grief.
The Liver and Anger
We can feel the presence of anger as it builds up inside us, like a physical force the body can’t quite contain. Resentment.grows, and mutates into anger.
In TCM, anger relates to frustration, irritability, and jealousy. The extreme expression of anger is outbursts of rage, which tend to come when anger has been allowed to fester.
This festering is an important term to consider. When something festers, it starts to rot. It loses any goodness, and becomes tainted. This is what happens with anger. Irritability sits in the liver and festers, growing harmful and turning to sour rage. The liver controls how our Qi moves through our blood stream, and anger stops the even distribution of life force. It builds up into heat, which warms the body, and increases irritability.
The physical expression of this can be painful, particularly headaches and menstrual cramps. Other symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, red eyes, and high blood pressure. When anger grows strong, it can lead to violence.
That doesn’t mean we should start shouting every time we get annoyed. The healthy way to express anger is through controlled expression. The irritations can fall away, and the Qi continues to travel through our body.
The Kidneys/Adrenal Glands and Fear
Fear can consume us, eating away at the body and energy. While some level of fear can be normal, over time it becomes excessive. Fear is an emotion that drains, and the whole body can be brought low by an abundance of fear.
Fear, anxiety, insecurity – all are linked in TCM. This emotion is found in the kidneys and adrenal glands, which are considered the same. Kidneys hold Qi, but they can’t serve this function correctly when struggling with fear. This leads to a lowered metabolism, and we feel cold and exhausted.
An excess of fear can have serious effects on the body. The kidney acts as the batteries for the system. When they don’t work, we can struggle with lower back pain, urinary incontinence, ringing in the ears, and osteoporosis. Kidneys blocked with fear cause us to be low on energy, and run down. General wellness is depleted.
Fear relates to stress, and it’s often a signal that we need to take a break. When the kidneys are holding on to fear, there’s no space for energy. Fear needs to be worked through, and dealt with before it completely depletes our life force.
The Spleen and Worry/Stress
When worry grows inside us, we can feel it in our spleen and stomach. It twists us up, sitting uncomfortably in the body. The energy becomes knotted, and our appetites get tangled alongside, causing us to lose our appetite. When we do eat, the nutrients from the food can’t be absorbed properly.
The spleen manages the blood, filtering it and removing impurities. It also helps with digesting food, absorbing nutrients, and creating energy. When the energy in the spleen is blocked, the body can really struggle. Bloating, fatigue, and a loss of appetite are all common side effects. Worrying causes the spleen to become weakened, negatively affecting all the important functions.
Worry, stress, and overthinking are sadly all too common in everyday life. It’s hard to fight through them, because it seems as though they keep on building up.
To deal with worry, a good first step is focusing on nourishment. Food nourishes the body, which nourishes energy. Taking time to sit and appreciate the food helps us to metabolize and absorb nutrients. It also provides us with vital time to relax. Clearing negative energy happens best when we are vitalized.
Listening to our body helps us to understand our emotions. We may all try to be aware of our emotions, but negative feelings grow by quietly feeding off our energy. We don’t realize until they’ve become too powerful, and are causing us to feel ill.
Nourishing our bodies and emotions helps us to stay healthy and happy. Daily meditation gives us an opportunity to connect and work through what we’re feeling. Acupuncture can target specific areas and release built up turmoil. Setting time aside for reflection keeps us connected to our bodies and the emotions they contain.