Welcome back to the LAST WEEK of our series on Emotions and how they can affect the health of your body based on the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This practice does not refer to health issues as dis-ease or ailment; they use the terms disharmony or imbalance. According to TCM, the emotions can either be the cause or the result of the imbalance. In TCM, Qi (pronounced chee) is the central underlying principle. Qi translates as “air” and figuratively as “material energy”, “life force”, or “energy flow”. When the body has sufficient Qi flowing, it is in it’s desired and healthful state. It is only when we experience blocked energy or stagnant Qi that imbalance or disharmony can occur. This week we will look into the emotions anxiety and over-joy and how they associate with the health/Qi of the heart.
The Heart, Anxiety and Over-joy
In TCM, the heart is where the shen, or spirit, is housed. It is the ruler of the five organ system that we have been talking about in this series. It governs the flow of Qi or energy in the body. When the feeling of anxiety arises the heart will work over-time and exhaust life force energy/Qi. This is also said for the emotion over-joy. Most of us know joy to be a positive and soothing emotion. However, when we become over-joyed (caused by extreme excitement about something) this too will exhaust the heart and affect the flow of Qi in the body.
It is said that the heart holds a conscience of it’s own. In fact, science has shown that more signals are sent from the heart to the brain vs from the brain to the heart. This is why heart/brain coherence is effective for taming anxiety or over-joy in the body. See below for more on coherence.
Foods to Strengthen the Qi of the Heart
Bitter foods nourish the Qi of the heart. Avoid stimulants if you are experiencing anxiety or over-joy, this includes– caffeine and refined sugar. Here are some foods to boost heart Qi:
- Mustard seed
- Wheat berry
- Rose Tea (this is delicious and very soothing! Put dried rose buds in hot water and steep for 5-7 minutes and then strain and enjoy!)
Physical Support for the Heart
A simple breathing technique can work wonders for the heart. An organization called the Heart Math Institute suggest a coherence practice. This is a practice that will help synchronize all the organs and calm any disharmony, especially anxiety. You can practice this in the morning upon awakening or all through the day as needed:
Heart/Brain Coherence Practice:
Step 1- Heart Focus–focus your attention on the area around your heart, the area in the center of your chest. If you like, place your hand over the center of your chest to help to keep your attention in the heart area.
Step 2- Heart Breathing–breathe deeply but normally and feel as if your breath is coming in and going out through your heart area. As you inhale, feel as if your breath is flowing in through your heart, and as you exhale, feel it leaving through this area. Breathe slowly and casually, a little deeper than normal. Continue breathing with ease until you find a natural inner rhythm that feels good to you.
Step 3- Heart Feeling–as you maintain your heart focus and heart breathing, activate a positive feeling. Recall a time when you have felt a feeling of love or appreciation. One of the easiest ways to generate a positive heart-based feeling is to remember a special place you’ve been to or the love you feel for a close friend or family member or treasured pet. This is the most important step.
Supplements to Strengthen the Heart
There are many different supplements that are helpful for heart health and Qi. CBD oil is a great go to help calm the nervous system as well as the heart. This can be very effective for managing occasional anxiety or stress. Resveratrol, an extract from grapes and red wine, is one of the best supplements for the heart. Scientists are still discovering how useful this nutrient is for the whole body. Some studies even show that it is beneficial for anxiety! Another fantastic supplement for anxiety and over-joy is L-Theanine. This is the amino acid that is naturally occurring in green tea. It is the element that calms the caffeine high in tea. It can work wonders to calm the over active nervous system as well as the heart.
Essential Oils for Anxiety or Over-joy
The tongue and face are also associated with the heart in TCM. When you relax the tongue and your face the heart will relax as well. Also, order is the emotion to help sooth anxiety and over-joy. When you are feeling the disharmony of anxiety or over-joy, see if you can create some order to balance out your life. That could mean cleaning your house or room, making a list of things to do, or organize a messy drawer.
Now you understand how the emotions anxiety and over-joy and how they associate with the health/Qi of the heart. We hope you enjoyed our series on emotion and health. Isn’t it fascinating how emotions can play such an integral role in our health? Next time you are feeling off, ask yourself– is this because of a negative emotion that I am repressing? Then see how you can express that emotion in a healthy manner.
As always, do what you feel is best for YOUR body — if you aren’t sure, ask your doctor. We are health ENTHUSIASTS not licensed practitioners.