I came across a quote that I would like to share with you. It emphasises the importance of the heart, from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective.
It is the heart that can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. - Antoine De Saint-Exupéry
The reason I have chosen this elegant quote is because it reminds me of how we are sensitive and connected to the subtle changes in our surroundings, and I also feel that it implies that we know what is truly precious beyond material possessions.
It is the heart that helps to make clear assessments of our external and internal worlds; the heart is the key to how we interpret and manage an appropriate response in both of these environments. Read my blog, Heart & Elation.
The heart is the centre of all your emotions and the driver of your circulatory system. When the heart is shocked or overwhelmed, this can have an affect on your emotions and your health. In TCM, the pericardium, small intestine, and san jiao help protect the heart by filtering and diverting excess energy away from it.
These four organs are associated with the fire element and summer in Chinese medicine.
During the summer season, you can't help but think about the energy of the fire element, as it displays the same characteristics as summer, like heat and expansion.
In my blog about the Seven Emotions, I go further into this.
The emotions are a vital part of your wellbeing, and this is taken into consideration in every Zen Shiatsu treatment.
We have all experienced, at some point, that sensation called 'gut feeling', that we wish we had listened to on more than one occasion. For some reason, we choose to bypass it and override what our heart is trying to tell us. That moment is like when a part of us senses and the heart assesses before the conscious mind realises. There is a biochemical and physiological shift when we sense danger, safety, love, sensing the energy of a room, or the energy of an individual. This isn't solely based on something that we see, but more on something that is sensed. Neuroception is the standard term for this process. Click neuroception to find out more from the Khiron Clinics website.
In TCM, if there is an imbalance with the fire element, being able to assess social cues or acting appropriately for the given situation might be difficult. When there is balance, a person is able to be 100% present in the moment, and they can trust that their heart/intuition will guide them in the direction of better possibilities.
In Western medical practises, there is a phenomenon called the 'widowhood effect' .
This demonstrates what is meant by the quote above, when it talks about how something unseen can have an affect on our physiology and our mental state.
The 'widowhood effect' shows that when the heart loses the profound interwoven connection with the energy of a long-time loving partner, it can have a drastic outcome on someone's mortality.
In TCM, the lungs are usually associated with grief and sadness, they are also known as the tender organs because they can be easily affected by atmospheric changes, pollutants, or emotions. So you may see symptoms like shallow breathing, allergies, or experience the widowhood effect for example. So when the shen (spirit) that is housed in the heart is disturbed, the lungs are easily affected and can manifest issues.
The signs and symptoms you may see from an imbalanced heart in TCM could be anxiety, depression, insomnia, or a lack of energy. But when the spirit is vibrant and healthy, the person is able to communicate clearly, calm in times of adversity, and behave appropriately for the given situation.
This is a PDF download of a polyvagal exercise on neuroception.