Are you familiar with the expression “Too much of a good thing eventually turns into a bad thing?”
In almost all cases, if you end up actually getting too much of the good thing, it loses its allure and succumbs to the laws that guide the natural balance in the universe. These laws aren’t things that are created or destroyed; they simply exist, and all things in our current reality are subject to these laws of balance. Regardless of whether or not you acknowledge this balance, it exists as one of the most basic underlying fabrics of our universe.
This universal balance is created by a flow that moves between all the things connected by it.
When there are blockages, insufficiencies, or excesses, an imbalance is created. However, due to the natural laws that govern the balance, the imbalance is often corrected or adjusted by a shift or change in flow. The flow is always moving to restore a harmonious balance.
Speaking in concrete examples, this balance could be something as fundamental as feeling hungry and satiating the hunger by eating. If you never felt hungry, you couldn’t fully experience the feeling of being satisfied by eating. It’s the basic logic behind the idea that happiness and sadness would not exist without one another.
Traditional Chinese medicine was developed, over centuries, by applying this same idea of balance and flow to the internal organs and systems that comprise our bodies. Over the years the practitioners of Oriental Medicine were able to develop an intricate understanding of the relationship between our emotions, organs and internal systems.
In a lot of modern medical practices it’s typical to think of and treat these systems, organs, and functions as individual entities. We often neglect to look much further than the immediate ailment when seeking a cure or alleviation.
To gain a better, clearer understanding of the root causes of a current ailment or chronic condition, it’s important to develop a more holistic mindset to create a better approach to healing.
To truly begin understanding how traditional Chinese medicine improves emotional, mental and physical healing, it’s important to take a look at how our bodily systems have been categorized and paired. Based on the long history of the alternative medical approaches utilized in traditional Chinese medicine, they have paired each organ with a corresponding emotion, color, element and time of day.
The basic idea is that through careful assignment and understanding of these connections we can work towards developing our optimal harmonious balance. By learning how our emotions are tied to a particular organ we can start to uncover the true source of our physical and emotional ailments. For example, if you discover that anger, resentment, bitterness, frustration or irritability are dominating emotions in your life, then you make look to the health of your liver, as it is the organ associated with those emotions.
The health of the liver can also have a direct impact on the spleen, stomach, kidneys, lungs, and gallbladder, which would in turn, affect the emotions mostly closely associated with those organs. If you find yourself expressing or feeling the adage “I’m so angry, I can’t think straight,” it is likely due to the health of the liver affecting the health of the gallbladder. In that situation, you are basically saying that you currently have the inability to make decisions (I can’t think straight) because you’re so angry.
The gallbladder is the organ most closely associated with making decisions.
Below is a list of the organ systems and some of their corresponding emotions:
- Liver and Gallbladder: Anger, frustration, resentment, anxiety, and rage (Can also be involved in depression and is closely associated with PMS)
- Lung and Large Intestine: Grief, sadness, depression, detachment, anxiety
- Spleen and Stomach: Over thinking/overworking, cannot shut your mind off, worry, nervousness, anxiety, dwelling, excessive mental work
- Kidney and Bladder: Fear, anxiety, weak willpower, aloofness, insecurity, isolation
- Heart and Small Intestine: Overjoy, depression and despair, agitation, insomnia, restlessness, lack of enthusiasm
In order to gain an even better understanding of how these emotions are connected with and influenced by the energetic organ systems, each organ has been assigned to one of five elements.
- Liver and Gallbladder are associated with Wood.
- Heart and Small Intestine are associated with Fire.
- Spleen and Stomach are associated with Earth.
- Lung and Large Intestine are associated with Metal.
- Kidney and Bladder are associated with Water.
The basic principle is that each element controls and generates (or is a product of) the other. For example:
- Wood is used to create fire.
- Fire burns wood.
- Burnt wood (ash) returns to the earth.
- Metal is a product that comes from earth and helps create the condensation or water.
- Water is an essential component in the growth of wood.
- From there the cycle starts over.
On the flip side of that flow, is how the elements can also control one another.
- Earth can control the flow of water through routing it via streams, rivers, etc.
- Water is used to control fire.
- Fire is used to control and create metal (think of using fire to make metal bend or liquify it).
- Wood controls the perpetuation of earth (compost).
By thinking about the elements in this type of arrangement, we can see how they are connected and dependent on the flow between them to be harmonious. Since each organ is assigned to an element, it becomes much clearer how an imbalance between them affects the entire flow throughout your body. A major blockage or prolonged imbalance in one area can have a ripple effect on the entire system of organs and emotions.
In traditional Chinese medicine, there are several different approaches or therapies that can be utilized for healing and understanding the connection between these intricate bodily systems. Acupuncture, herbal medicines, and qigong are a few of the main therapies that are used to restore balance and remove blockages in the flow between organs.
Unfortunately, these types of therapies are often regarded as “last attempt alternatives.” However, as science has worked to explain many of these delicate, internal relationships, people are starting to discover and experience the vast benefits of incorporating them earlier in treatment regimens. This is why it is important to recognize, regardless of the level of acknowledgment, the intricate flow between emotional and physical health exists as a fundamental foundation of our being. Therefore, we can look to improve both our emotional and physical health by seeking methods that remove blockages and restore a harmonious balance.