The Seven Emotions
  Heart - Joy

Seven Emotions - Joy.png
Adrian Cox
14 June 2022
The Heart in Relation to Joy

In this post, we will have a quick look at the Heart,

the spirit aspect called Shen, its connection with Joy and Blood. 

This is now the second part to the Seven Emotions. The first was about anger associated to the Liver, this time it is joy associated to the heart.

The name for each of the Seven Emotions, is an emotion that can be harmful, if it is excessive. They are: Liver - Anger, Heart - Joy, Spleen - Worry, Lung - Sadness/Grief, Kidney - Fear/Fright. The only one out of these that has a positive reference is Heart, with Joy. It would be a reasonable question to ask, how can joy have a negative affect? To find the answer to this, We will have to take a look at:

  • The Shen

  • Joy and Heart Qi

One thing to bear in mind, is that if any of the emotions run too high for long periods, the Heart, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), can be overwhelmed. When overwhelmed the Heart loses connection in an emotional, mental and physical way.


You may of heard of the term 'heart centre' used in other traditions. This is a wonderful term that conjures up images of compassion, devotion and openness radiating from the whole body. In the Chinese system this is represented by Joy, when the spirit (shen) is ancord keeping a connection with heaven (universe), earth (environment) and man (our bodies). It is reflected in your eyes, in the way you carry yourself and in how you experience things around you.

When all our emotions are fluctuating in the normal way, there is an awareness of self, in this space and time. The interaction with the world is appropriate, there's a knowing of how to conduct ourselves in different environments and situations.


As I have mentioned in part one, each of the five Yin organs (zang) houses a Shen. The name for each of the five Shen are: Liver - Hun, Heart - Shen, Spleen - Yi, Lung - Po and Kidney - Zhi.

Yep, even though they are called the five Shen, the Heart spirit is also called Shen. This is because the Heart houses the Shen. It mediates and helps to regulate all the emotions. Making sure that we are not laughing out loud in a solom situations, having the right timing with our responses and actions and having healthy relationships with other people.

The nature of the Heart, reminds me of chapter eight of the Dao De Jing - Adaptable In Nature.

Adaptable In Nature.png

What I hear in this chapter, is how we are in the world, is how we are in ourselves. If our system is maintained through self cultivation - body therapies, diets, meditation and rest, the Heart has a greater potential of being its purer self. It is through these practices, we are nurturing our Essence (Jing), Blood (Xue) and Energy (Qi), which contribute to a well adjusted Shen. 


When the Heart is overwhelmed, its Qi slowly scatters and the Shen is no longer ancord.

With that up rooting, you may see symptoms like Insomnia, poor memory, lack of concentration or an inability to gauge appropriateness. On the more critical side of Shen disturbances, there is a loss of connection with reality, mania or even talking in tonguesWhen this happens, the treatments can be a difficult and a slow process. 


In ancient China there were male and female shamanistic practitioners called 'Wu Yi'. This Wu translates as 'Magician or sorcerer' and Yi translates as 'Doctor of Medicine'. One of their skills was working with the Shen and restoring harmony. Primarily they worked for the emperors, and were highly respected for their advice in many areas like war, health and agricultural matters.

Joy and Heart Qi

In the Nei Jing, there is a line that says what happens to Heart Qi, when joy is in excess.

'The Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen', is considered one of the essential compendiums on Chinese medical theory. It was compiled by the medical advisors to Huang Di (The Yellow Emperor). They were Qi Bo and Lei Gong circa 2,500 BC. The Nei Jing (Inner Cannon) has discussions on topics like Yin and Yang, the five flavours, living in accordance with the seasons, levels of illness and its path. This only touches the surface of this incredible body of work. Written in those pages is a section that refers to 'The hundred diseases generated by Qi'. - A hundred refers to many. 

Here are two examples from that section. I have add on the corresponding  Yin organ, with a small expansion.

"When one is angry, then the Qi rises" - Liver - Irritability, Headaches. As the Qi pulls the Blood, you may see signs like red eyes or red face.

"When one is joyous, then the Qi relaxes" - Heart - Qi can pass freely and is in harmony.

If the Qi is excess, it can become agitated and you might experience insomnia, anxiety or mania.

If  the Qi is  deficient, there will be sadness and maybe signs of tiredness, palpitations or lethargy.


Another important factor in the health of your Heart and body, is your Blood. When the Blood is nourished through supportive foods, exercise and rest, the body feels invigorated and your mind is more present.

Exercise helps to strengthen your digestive system, while supporting the function of the Heart to circulate the Blood around your system. 

In TCM Blood is the fluid that, nourishes the organs, tendens, muscles, hair, bones and the brain.

It is highly beneficial for the quality of the Blood, to be as good as possible.

There is a strong connection with Blood and Qi, Shen and Blood. So when there is harmony with these substances, it will benefit your mind and body.

"The state of the Blood shapes the spirit,
The movement of the Qi defines the Blood"

Here are a few suggestions, to care for the health of your Heart and Blood, which may improve your wellbeing. 

This information is not to replace any medication you are on. And please remember, everything in moderation  

Foods that help to support Blood health

  • Dark leafy green

  • Lots of fresh vegetables

  • Aduki beans, kidney beans

  • Dates, figs

  • Dandelion, nettle

  • Sea food & meat

  • All of the above, organic were possible

Foods that DO NOT support Blood health

  • Processed food

  • Too much fried food

  • High salt and sugar

Activities that support Heart health

  • Exercise

  • Rest - especially in the afternoon

  • Meditation

  • Yoga, Qi Gong, Shiatsu

As we go through the seven emotions, you will see that we are a combination of all of them.

We are constantly fluctuating, as we respond to our social environment and tussling with internal dialogs.


Zen Shiatsu helps to support and regulate your system. While working with the physical, it is helping the psychological, while working on the flow, it is helping to restore. 

Zen Shiatsu has an holistic approach to maintaining wellbeing.

If you decide to use Shengong or any other practice to work with your Shen, 

please find a highly qualified practitioner.

Logo 4000 x 700.png