Conversations from Clinic

The Heart

Next in the pathway of energy moving through the body is the Heart meridian. Heart energy is dominant between 11am and 1pm, the most yang part of day when the sun is highest in the sky. Perhaps understandably then, the Heart comes under the Fire element. The Fire element has two yin/yang pairs to represent it – The Heart/ Small Intestine and Pericardium/Triple Heater. The most important of these is the Heart and the other three Fire meridians function to serve and protect it. 

Let us recap – the Lungs take in breath, ribs expanding and diaphragm pushing down on the Large Intestine massaging it into releasing what is no longer required. Once room has been made by letting go, the Stomach calls forth our desires for what we would like to take in from the world to satisfy us. The Spleen digests the input and combining it with energy from the breath, makes Gu Qi (pronounced goo chi) – what a great word. Gu qi helps build the Blood, our transport mechanism for energy, protection and warmth. Then we get to the Heart. 

Summer Sun’ ~ Dean Chihuly

The Heart is said to be like the Emperor, not carrying out any manual duties itself but rather ensuring that all systems are working harmoniously together. It is the conduit through which orders are given and executed via the Fire emissaries to the rest of the body. Historically in many nations, royalty was considered next in line to the divine, receiving messages from heaven and conducting rituals to appease the gods and keep all at peace on earth

Functionally our heart pumps blood around our whole body. Energetically the Heart is said to house the ‘Shen’ or ‘Shin’ in Japanese. The word ‘Shin’ can be interpreted as body/mind or spirit. Another way you could think of it is ‘potential’. Shin is the animating force that directs our life. 

I named my practice ‘Shinma’ from two characters – Shin (spirit) and Mameaning a pause, a gap, or the space between things. It is my intention to provide a space, or pause for you to connect body and mind. In that space it is possible to connect with our true self and hear what our Heart wants to tell us. Calm is the opposite of chaos. It allows the multiple systems of our bodies to function well together and for our actions to align with our inner purpose or values. This is how our full potential can be realised. 

How can I look after my Heart?
Humans are social beings and prolonged periods without social interaction is a form of stress. Heart health is maintained by connection to one’s purpose or values and social interaction with others as much as it is by diet and exercise. 

Make time for calm and connection to self – sitting quietly, apply gentle pressure to Heart 7, on the first wrist crease underneath the little finger. Close your eyes and breath deeply for a minute, allowing  peace to descend. Repeat on the other wrist. Be aware of any tension or discomfort in the chest. Listen to what underlying thoughts or feelings may be contributing to the stress.        
Make choices according to your inner values and truth. Conflict arises when the mind tries to dominate rather than maintaining its rightful place as coordinator of the Heart’s wisdom. Sometimes what the Heart is saying doesn’t seem logical or even self serving but experiment with letting the Heart lead and notice whether things flow more smoothly for you and those around you when you do. 

Consider how you may be able to connect and help others even if you can’t physically see them. Do you have a skill that others could benefit from right now? Do you have a friend you could call and see how they are? Is there an organisation that could use your experience and expertise? Can you write a letter to someone you love and speak ‘from your heart’ about what’s on your mind?

Play! Games, laughter and joy are the medicine of the Heart meridian. Children and animals are good teachers. Prioritise hobbies, silly dancing to your favourite music or try playing cards online with friends if you don’t have anyone at home to play with.

This lesson in conducting Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ is perhaps the ultimate Heart exercise – Joy is the emotion associated with the Heart, waving the arms around stretches the Heart meridian, being active pumps the physical heart and beings silly brings fun and laughter. Enjoy!

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