Historically, the western perspective has preferred to discuss the mind and body as if they were separate things. This is not strange as one could easily spend a lifetime on the study of each and still just barely scratch the surface. That said, disciplines that deal with the overlap of the mind/body connection are gaining more and more traction within the mainstream, and Chinese Medicine is one of them.
We have all likely had the experience of how a good night's rest can help to quiet emotions like anger, or how the ability of a brisk walk can aid in gaining clarity on a mentally tough decision. Chinese Medicine, a tradition whose origins date back more than 2000 years, has seen a connection between the body and its various emotional states from the beginning.
In TCM, each emotion is associated with a specific organ system. Grief effects the lungs. Worry effects the digestive system. Stress, anger or irritability effect the liver. Fear shocks the kidneys. And the emotion of over-excitement is even included, which effects the heart.
If we take just a moment to consider these correlations, it is easy to see common manifestations of them.
When we are sad, often there is an aching in the chest, or our breathing may become more shallow (Lungs). With worry, some lose their appetite, or maybe turn to food for comfort (Spleen/Stomach). Both the Lung and the Spleen systems (in TCM) are where we get our daily energies from, so it is not surprising that with the associated emotions of sadness and worry, energy levels might dip.
Stress, which in TCM is said to stagnate Liver Qi, gets relieved when we move our bodies, circulating our qi and blood. Ever find yourself sighing a lot? It's a sign that your Liver Qi is congested. With over-excitement (or anxiousness), we might get a racing heart or a sensation of tightness in our chest.
Acupuncture, like other modalities such as reiki, meditation, massage, yoga or somatic psychotherapy, is a tool that can help us to get in touch with how we hold on to emotional states within our bodies. It can help us move through them when we don't always have the words to describe or access what we are feeling on a conscious level. And it is important to access these emotions, for if we don't have a way to release them, they can turn into deeper health issues down the road.
Have you been feeling out-of-sorts lately and you are not sure why? Maybe an acupuncture treatment can help you feel right again.
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