Our bodies and our emotions are not separate.
Western culture has evolved to create a misunderstanding that the physical body and the emotional body are two totally independent systems. Slowly, Western scientists have begun to understand certain concepts that link these two, such as the discovery that the gut acts as a ‘second brain’ in the body. We know that things like stress and anger are toxic for our bodies, but to what extent do we really understand this?
Eastern civilizations, long before western science was born, understood the way our mental and spiritual bodies inform our physical nature. Every organ corresponds to the energy of a certain emotion, and every disease stems from an imbalance in an organ or the meridians (energy channels) it controls.
This is a fundamental idea in Chinese Medicine, and many times a physical disorder linked to a certain organ actually stems from an imbalance in the emotion associated with that organ. The reverse could be true: an imbalanced organ can heighten the specific emotion experienced by an individual. It can become a vicious cycle.
So we can begin to diagnose ourselves by noticing if we have a strong inclination to a certain emotion:
is the emotion of the heart and the small intestine. When we experience true joy and happiness, we are nourishing our heart and small intestine energy: we feel mentally clear and able to process experiences. When we are lacking joy in our lives, the heart suffers and we can feel stuck, mentally chaotic, and have difficulty sleeping. Mania or obsessive joy can indicate excess heart energy, and can be the cause of severe mental emotional disorders. Even the good emotions can be out of balance!
is the emotion of the liver and the gallbladder. Emotions like rage, fury or aggravation can indicate that this energy is in excess, and when we experience these emotions consistently, our liver can get further damaged. An imbalanced gallbladder can be caused by longstanding feelings of repressed anger, such as resentment, frustration, and irritability. Avoiding outbursts of anger will protect liver and gallbladder health.
is the emotion of the kidneys and the bladder. What are you scared of? Many patients that have illnesses associated with their kidneys are often found to be dealing with great amounts of fear, such as a change in life direction or unstable living conditions. Deep anxiety can be the cause of serious kidney and bladder problems: ever heard of people peeing their pants when they have stage fright? The more we face and deal with what we’re scared of, the stronger our foundational kidney energy will be!
is the emotion of the spleen and the stomach. Too much pensiveness, worrying and insecurity can weaken our ability to digest. When we are anxious, we are finding it hard to digest and accept a situation or life event. Lack of trust and ease towards the experiences and the foods we take in to our lives will make it impossible for us to digest them. This can make us feel tired, lethargic, and unable to concentrate: a bit of a paradox, too much mental stimulation can actually cause mental heaviness.
is the emotion of the lungs and the large intestine. A lot of the time when people suffer a loss of a loved one or any sad event, they get sick with a cold, feel energetically drained and have difficulties with bowel function. Grief is often something that stays with us for a while, and can go unresolved until we decide to release it. Since our lungs control the flow of energy in our bodies, it’s important that we give ourselves space to deal with painful events rather than stifling them.
All of these emotions are inevitable, physiologically normal and will not cause disease when they arise in daily life. It’s the longstanding repression of an emotion, or the excessive experience of it that can affect the health of the organs.
So what can we do?
Start with addressing emotions that come up for you: journaling, little notes on your iPhone throughout the day – whatever works for you. Watch how you tend to instinctually react to uncomfortable situations or conversations with people who are close to you. Look out for patterns in your health: do you get stomach aches and digestive problems during times of high stress? Do you get a cold every time you fight with someone you love? Notice it. You’ll naturally find it easier to catch yourself before over-reacting to the same old situations, and your organs will thank you for conserving energy. The more you decide to participate in your emotional life, the easier it is for the scariest emotions to pass through.
Let’s be more aware and mindful as emotions arise within us, so we can strive to maintain balance and keep our bodies vibing high!
By Isabella Gucci-Ruffalo