As acupuncturists, we sit with our clients and talk with them about their emotions. Emotions are an important part of the intake process for Traditional Chinese Medicine. Emotions affect our physical health and physical health affects our emotional well-being.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine – most organ systems have an emotion associated with them. When someone is angry or irritable, we think of the Liver and how to work to balance the flow of Liver Qi. Fear is associated with the Kidneys, Grief, the Lungs, Heart – joy, and the emotion associated with the Spleen is worry. Since we so often experience many emotions, one can speculate the effect the emotions have on our health.
I want to make a pitch for making friends with our emotions. So often, we try to push our feelings away. This may be done through drugs and alcohol, food and other addictions, exercise or medications. An informal industry has been developed in order to support us in NOT FEELING. What this ultimately does is add an additional layer to our pain and suffering. We still feel the emotions we don’t want to feel and we self medicate ourselves to get away from the feelings we still feel! Doesn’t make sense!
While I am not proposing that one eliminates – certainly not all at once – the “fixes” we use to get away from our emotions, I am suggesting that, in addition, we try to begin understand our why we are feeling what we are feeling! Many times our emotions provide us with valuable information and we are able to integrate and heal. Other times, by understanding our emotions, we can work with them and they loose their power and control over us.
There are different ways we can begin to explore our feelings and emotions. Journaling can be a very effective way to connect emotions. Journaling can give us insight into the root cause of an emotion which oftentimes, has very little to do with the present moment. Usually, emotions are based on a past experience that is triggered by the present moment. Breathing is another way to explore our emotions. Gentle breathing exercises in which we sit quietly and breathe deeply can allow the emotions to be there without feeling overwhelmed. Meditation is way to sit with our feelings and recognize that the emotions are not us – they are only a part of us. We are NOT our emotions. Counseling gives us a safe avenue to talk about our emotions with someone else and get them out on the table. Faith and Spirituality are two good (and very personal) ways to work with our emotions.
There is never any one way to stay healthy balanced and there is no quick fix. It is usually a combination of tools and techniques that keeps us centered and on track. Making friends with those parts of us we are uncomfortable with is a good way to start!