Have you ever noticed that when you feel tired or weak you are more anxious, restless or aloof? You get palpitations or sweat, you can’t sleep and you look pale. Thousands of years before the understanding of Western physiology, this was explained to all be related to the HEART “the house of the mind”.
From an Oriental medicine point of view the Heart has a variety of function / aspects.
- Governs the blood
- Controls blood vessels
- It shows its health in the facial complexion
- Houses the mind/spirit (“Shen” in acupuncture terms, and means ‘vitality’ and can be seen through the brightness of someone’s eyes)
- Opens onto the tongue
- Controls sweat
- Affects dreams
With a basic understanding of the body’s anatomy we can easily visualise functions 1-3. Through the relationship of the Heart with the blood and blood vessels, it’s not too hard to make the connection that if blood is circulating well through our body it will show as good colour in our face. But what about the 4th; how does it relate to our mind, our emotions and our spirit?
The Heart is said to house the spirit (Shen). If there are good amounts of blood then the Shen will have a ‘soft bed’ to sleep and be settled. If blood is poor or Heart energy is low, there will be separation of the Heart and the Shen meaning an unsettled spirit (emotions).
What does this mean in the “real world” and how might you notice it happening to you?
If the Heart and blood are strong and plentiful, your Shen will be normal, regulated, balanced and clear. If the Heart health is not right, there may be depression, poor memory, unclear thinking, insomnia, and other problems related to the mind.
Have you ever noticed that the times in your life when you are run down, over worked and depleted (this leads to energy and blood deficiency which can affect the Heart) you are more likely to be emotionally restless, anxious or have difficulty sleeping? If women are low in blood they can typically experience these symptoms post menstrual bleed.
If the Heart blood is deficient and is unable to root or anchor the mind (Shen), it will manifest as restlessness, depression, anxiety, insomnia, agitation and other emotional problems. Heart blood deficiency can also cause palpations, pale complexion, and weak and/or irregular pulses.
If you have these symptoms does it mean you’re going to have heart failure?
No is the short answer. But it is a good indication that you need to listen to your body and start looking after yourself. Living a busy life fuelled by caffeine and adrenaline can lead to the burning of energy we don’t have (our energy stores), which compromises our body’s ability to make blood and support our Heart.
If you’re concerned about the state of your blood here are some easy home tips you can use to check the abundance of your blood:
- A nice pink colour in the flowing areas indicates good blood, while pale or white indicates poor amounts of blood:
- Under the rim of your bottom eye lid (you’ll need to pull your eye lid down to see this).
- Your cheeks, lips and tongue.
- Good menstrual flow (fresh, red colour that is not too light in flow and is free from clots)
- Good energy levels
Understanding the subtle changes of your body is an amazing way to motivate yourself to stay well and powerful tool to prevent sickness. For more information talk to your Practitioner.
“wellness is a daily practice”