February is a beautiful month. We are still in Winter but the light has begun to return and we are moving towards Spring. The seeds that were planted last year are beginning to take root and in the same way, symbolically, our intentions for the New Year are beginning to grow and take form. February is the also the month in which we celebrate Valentine's Day. With today being Valentine's Day I decided it would be fun to introduce the Heart as it is viewed in Chinese medicine. In Chinese medicine all the organs in our body have associated channels and meridians. They connect everything and integrate us as whole beings. One way to think of it is like highways connecting different cities together. Everything in Chinese medicine is about connections, relationships, and patterns. In this scheme of things everything is described metaphorically or symbolically to help us understand different aspects of ourselves and how we relate to ourselves and the world around us.
One way of describing the channels and organs in our bodies is by
designating them as government officials. The Heart, then, is the
Emperor, or Supreme Controller. The job of the Emperor is to keep things
ordered, to keep everything organized, in control, and most importantly
to delegate what needs to be done to the appropriate people and places.
They must find the balance between creating solid boundaries and rules
without being overbearing and also allowing for creative freedom. The Emperor
must know that he or she cannot do everything on their own and that by
knowing what they can do and what someone else can do better there will
be health, vitality, and harmony. They must be humble while at the same
time recognizing their position and source of power. The Emperor stays
in the palace - a safe and sacred space. The essential parts of the Self
need to be kept safe and so other officials bring and take information
from the Emperor to the rest of the kingdom.
If all that talk about emperors and kingdoms doesn't sit well with
your Democratic mind we can look at the Heart from another perspective -
the Chinese five elements, or phases/cycles of nature. The Heart is
associated with Fire, along with the Small Intestine, Pericardium, and
Triple Heater. Fire is about love and relationship. It is about the ways
in which we make connections and order our perceptions of reality. The
emotion associated with it is joy and its sound is laughter. Fire is
about an innate love for being alive. It is like being in a meadow full
of wildflowers on a sunny summer day with your arms thrown open, your
head thrown back to the sky, and immense joy bubbling out of you as
laughter. It is like pressing your head to a loved ones' chest and
hearing the beat of their heart. It is the satisfaction of leading a
project and seeing it succeed with all the pieces moving together as an
The above are all healthy manifestations of Fire. On the flip side
our fire can become imbalanced, either excessively or deficiently.
Someone who has lost their love for life and finds no joy in anything or
is unable to accept love and affection is someone who is lacking Fire.
Those with excessive Fire may be scatterbrained, over-controlling,
unable to focus, feverish, overworked, inappropriate, experience
palpitations or insomnia, or unable to be comfortable in solitude.
More specifically in regards to the Heart, it's aspect of Fire is the
one associated with delegation, with finding joy in seeing one's life
working out well. It is about living authentically as oneself and being
able to navigate different social situations and relationships with
different personalities. The Heart is also the spiritual source of Fire,
meaning it finds something more in mundane things. It is the one who
sees a Universal connection in a beautiful sunset. The Heart is the
essential part of who we are and the authentic expression of who we are
in the world around us. The Heart is like the Sun. It is the Fire that
burns with no external support. It doesn't need oxygen or wood. It is
completely self-sufficient unto itself.
Take notice of the qualities of the Heart and the Fire element over
the next few weeks. See where they show up in your life. Where it's easy
to connect with them and where you don't feel much resonance. Where are
you being authentic in your life? Where can you be more authentic? When
could your Heart be more open? When is too open and needs to be
protected? Notice how as the season is changing more light and warmth is
coming back to the days and how that ignites more fire within us. Next
week look for a practical application of the Heart. We'll either look at
a case study, research, or application of acupuncture points in
treating conditions related to the Heart.
~Joshuah Ciafardone, L.Ac