The Heart, in Chinese Medicine, is so much more than a pump. We all know this intuitively and every February we are reminded with Valentine’s Day. We have a celebration of Love with romance, decorated in pinks and reds, candle light and chocolate. One of things that I find really cool is when you see people on different continents, with different cultures, and little or no awareness of the other’s existence, arriving at the same conclusions. The one thing they have in common is that they are all human beings, governed by the same laws of Nature. Valentine’s Day (European) and the Chinese understanding of the Heart (Asian) are a reminder of this.
The Heart, in Chinese Medicine, is the Emperor of the body/mind/spirit “state.” It is in charge of your Being. The Heart has a certain energy that animates our lives and brings us joy. It is our connection to the Divine, the spark of magic that brings vitality to all living things. When that spark of energy is sensed by the eye, it is seen as the color red. When that energy is sensed by the emotions, we feel warmth, love and joy. When that energy is sensed by the ear, we hear laughter. It “opens on to” the tongue, enabling us to speak from the Heart. It’s no coincidence then that these are all ingredients for a perfect Valentine’s celebration with your lover….warmth, joy, laughter, heart-felt conversation and a little red accent.
We have developed all kinds of expressions about the Heart. I have a broken Heart… You gotta’ have Heart… My Heart is not in it… Take it to Heart... I have a heavy Heart. When we refer to ourselves, we point to our chests. That’s because this is where we live; not in our brains.
When the Heart is struggling, we see different emotional difficulties such as anxiety, depression or mania… and in extreme situations, mental illness. Insomnia is a common sign that the Heart is not able to properly cool itself, making it difficult to drop into deep sleep. Palpitations can be a sign that the Heart is a little worn out, usually from overwork and stress. Fatigue is common when the Heart energy is low. Memory and focus come from the Heart and its relationship to blood. Trauma affects the Heart deeply, as it has to absorb shock and sadness in order to keep us alive. It becomes a burden when carried over a lifetime. Chinese Medicine recognizes the Heart as a very powerful force, which is why it sees these symptoms as early warning signs that your Heart needs a little attention.
Whether it’s February 14th or just another Thursday, there’s good reason to make every day feel like Valentine’s Day. Cultivating warmth, joy, love, and laughter is not only good for Hallmark. It’s really good for your Heart!