Don't Miss a Beat: Chinese Medicine & the Heart
It’s February, so you guessed it - we’re talking about the HEART….
In Chinese Medicine, the Heart is said to house the Mind, meaning that there is a direct correlation between a healthy heart and a sound mind. In fact, the belief is that there is no separate “mind” - but rather a Heart Mind, such that the two are not separate but inextricably connected.
There are many stories (even research articles) about people who’ve received heart transplants and acquired both the personality and even certain memories from the donor!
Sooooo beyond fascinating to me!!
We see here a deep-seated connection between our body [the physical] and our spirit [the intangible].
That is the symbolism of the heart, the unification of paradoxes. Mind and body, yin and yang, art and science, work and play.
We are WHOLE when our spirituality and basic material desires come together, when we find the necessary balance of fast and slow, hustle and self-care, a night of socializing and an afternoon of meditation.
A healthy and open Heart Mind helps us maintain the connection between our consciousness and the material world. Moving beyond the ethereal, these attributes
When the Chinese Medicine Heart is in health:
Our Blood Circulates & Flows (limbs are warm, blood pressure is normal, no tingling, no cramping of muscles)
The Tissues & Organs are Nourished
The Heart Beats Steadily
The Body Regulates Temperature Well
Our Pulse is Strong
We Feel Full of Life, Qi, & Energy
Our Sleep is Solid
Our Mood is Stable
Some signs that the Heart MAY be out of balance:
Spontaneous Sweating (or NO sweating)
High Blood Pressure
Bitter Taste in the Mouth
Anxiety, Depression, Anger
These are not biomedical cardiovascular recommendations - you can definitely google those too - but rather suggestions for helping the Heart Mind. When you impact one [the Heart or Mind], you affect the other.
EAT BITTER: In Chinese Medicine, bitter flavor balances the heart in addition to clearing heat and drying dampness in the body. This equates to the reduction of inflammation, aiding digestion and reducing bloating, improving energy & sluggishness, and clearing a foggy mind, . Studies also show it has positive effects on the nervous and circulatory systems.
Bitter foods: bitter greens like dandelion greens (or dandelion tea), mustard leaf, arugula, radicchio, green tea, citrus peel, endive, bitter melon, turnips, asparagus. You’ll like this last one - COFFEE!
CONNECTION: The Heart is the organ of laughter & joy. It benefits from time spent with those we love, from rejoicing in the presence of those who feed our soul.
Looking someone in the eye is seeing into and connecting with the heart, as the eyes are window to the Shen or Spirit.
Holding hands is also very powerful as there is a powerful Pericardium (this organ protects our Heart) point on the hand.
Hugging the same can be said for hugging, as there is a powerful point for Heart health in the center of the chest. It can also help release anxiety & fear, and is even useful for acid reflux (see Acupressure of CV 17 below).
LOVE: There is nothing safer for the heart than for it to be open, thus we often feel safest when in loving relationship. Healthy love relationships present great potential for heart opening, and can be used as a tool for spiritual love and cultivation and a healthy Heart Mind.
CULTIVATION through SPIRITUALITY: Spiritual yearning is the nature of the heart in Chinese medicine. The spirit realm is the responsibility of the heart, and true happiness can only come from engaging this realm. Try deep breathing or meditating, journaling your thoughts, gratitude practices,
KINDNESS, starting with the SELF: Place one hand below you navel & one on the center of your chest, close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly. No say something kind to yourself, maybe even 2 or 3 kind things to yourself. Remember to be compassionate with yourself. You are with yourself 24/7, you matter most. Putting yourself at the top of the list will only help you in your relationship with others. Allow your Heart to soften & open. This way it can hold space for love & connection, and inevitably expand your compassion towards others.
Loving yourself isn't vanity. It's SANITY.
In the meantime, try some ACUPRESSURE: Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs are powerful tools for opening the Heart. In the meantime, try these two acupressure points (gently place a finger and rub in circles for a couple of minutes) if you’re struggling with any of the symptoms listed up above.
Heart 7 - on the inside of the wrist, on the pinky side, right next to the bone and along the wrist crease. Right BELOW the bone (closer to your body, not towards your fingertips) - place your finger on the bony prominence, and drop down into the crease.
Conception Vessel 17 - on the sternum (bone in the middle of the chest), generally at the nipple level.
MOVE YOUR BODY: Exercise, walking, rebounding, dancing - we’re moving the BLOOD and stimulating our endogenous feel-good chemicals.
That there's your Valentine's themed post!
For the month of February (and possibly longer - we'll see how this goes), we have a new offering: