‘The heart that gives, gathers’
〜 Tao Te Ching
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the heart is considered the ruler of the body – the ‘Emperor’. When all is well with the heart, the body will also be working well, as this benevolent and wise leader evaluates all the incoming information and ensures there is peace and harmony in the body. The Emperor acts as a container for the spirit or ‘Shen’: the sparks of consciousness that illuminate us as individuals in the world.
What others see when they look at us is our Shen – so what happens if the Emperor is not easy on his throne? The body will be in disarray and the kingdom of the body will be in a state of confusion. Our decision making may be erratic. Our sleeping patterns may be disturbed as the heart is unable to contain the Shen and has no opportunity to rest.
While the Emperor is off his throne, other competing powers within the body may seek to dominate. This is when we become vulnerable to disease. All the rhythms of life are disrupted and there is chaos in the body, leaving us vulnerable to both internal and external threats to our health on every level. We are particularly at risk of the depression and anxiety that often accompany diseases of the heart.
When we receive a shock or we experience trauma, we experience changes in our heart rhythm. We may use expressions such as ‘I nearly jumped out of my skin’, or ‘my heart is racing’. We feel uncomfortable, and others may notice we are not ourselves. Some less scrupulous characters may even try to exploit our vulnerability. What we need to do is restore the Emperor to the throne, and harmony to the kingdom.
Acupuncture can be one way to protect the Emperor. A number of points support the heart and its capacity to contain the Shen. Points may be chosen from the Pericardium or Heart Protector Meridian, such as Pericardium 5 (‘Jian Shi’) – the intermediary courier who helps to support the heart in challenging times.
Kidney 25 (‘Shen Cang’ or spirit storehouse) supports the heart in containing the Shen. But perhaps the most influential point to support the capacity of the heart to contain the Shen and restore harmony to the kingdom is Heart 7 (‘Shen Men’ or spirit gate). The gate must swing both ways and move freely at all times.
Information must flow freely between the Emperor and his subjects for the body to be well – but without support, the heart will be overwhelmed and disease will follow.