We are subject to a wide range of emotions, good and bad. As someone who has allowed myself to become emotionally hijacked, on many an embarrassing occasion, it comes as quite a shock to those who view me as a fairly level headed person. I am often left wondering 'who was that person' after all is said and done. Getting a hold on my emotions was one of the big draws towards mindfulness and alternative health practices including yoga and reiki. Bringing awareness to the present moment allows me time to really sense what is going on within my body when emotions are running high. As I went on to study Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture I gained a deeper understanding of how and where in the body our emotions take hold.
TCM dates back thousands of years and is a system based on careful observation of nature and mans' place within it. The body is viewed as a microcosm within the macrocosm of the universe, and as such is subject to the laws of nature. TCM embodies characteristics of the 'Five Elements', Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. Each element represents the internal organs Heart, Spleen (Stomach), Lung, Kidney, Liver and each organ is ruled by the emotions of joy, pensiveness, grief, fear and anger respectively. TCM recognizes that the emotions have a profound effect on our overall health and while emotions are an integral part of our being, when they arise quickly and with intensity, or are allowed to linger without resolution, they begin to create imbalance within the complex energetic system of the body.
When emotions are balanced they allow a free flow of energy throughout the body; joy brings a sense of contentment, pensiveness provides inspiration and solutions, grief becomes a means to let go of what has been lost, fear protects us from real danger and anger is used to bring about effective change. When emotions are out of balance joy becomes over excitability and anxiousness, overthinking becomes brooding and obsessive thinking, grief weakens the spirit, fear shuts down and anger lashes out in inappropriate ways. Over time instead of acting as a compass, directing our spirit in the right direction, our emotions begin to take over in unproductive ways. Suddenly one becomes aware of an uneasy beating of the heart in the form of palpitations when anxious, digestion is off, tension begins to build in the shoulders and neck leading to a headache or maybe there is physical exhaustion stemming from a sense of fear or sadness. These are all signs that the emotions are having a physical effect and creating a blockage of energy within the body. If emotions are left unchecked for prolonged periods they become ingrained in the physical body and a habitual way of existing that becomes difficult to break free from. This is where it becomes important to be mindful of the emotional landscape of not only the spirit (mind) but also the body. It is very easy in our modern world of distractions to push the mental awareness of emotions to the side, but when we become attuned with where the emotions are residing physically and the symptoms they create it provides an undeniable sign that something is out of alignment.
To maintain a healthy energy emotionally, spiritually and physically it is imperative that we bring awareness to our bodies when our emotions are out of balance. This can be achieved through a simple practice of stepping away from a situation to settle the mind and body with some deep breaths and observe the emotion without judgement or attachment. While breathing ‘scan’ the body from head to toe to feel where the physical sensation is manifesting. Taking time to practice mindfulness during times of stress to experience where emotions are being felt within the body connects us to a greater understanding of their influence on our health.
Up next we will explore the emotion of joy and it’s affect on the body and Heart energy.
Jeanette is a Registered Acupuncturist and Reiki Master at Trinity Registered Massage Therapy located at Huron Crossing and Sage Naturopathic Clinic in Kitchener.