Your emotions are way more than expressions of how you’re responding to life experiences. Emotions are energy in motion. They have the power to mobilize our vital energy, our Qi, in a particular way. When an emotion is excessive it can actually disrupt our energy and create imbalances in the body, heart, mind, and spirit.
Let’s talk about the 7 major emotions as we understand them in Chinese Medicine, the way that they affect our Qi (vital energy), and what we can do to harness the energy of emotions to promote health and longevity.
This is a deeper dive into energy medicine, which we talked about pretty thoroughly last week in: What Are The Best Types Of Energy Medicine For You?
You may want to visit that post after this one if you would like to experience emotional healing through energy medicine and need help deciding which modality is best.
Why Emotional Healing Should Be A Priority For You
It’s so important to recognize how we’re feeling most of the time, to take an honest look at this often. Most of us place less importance on our emotions until we start seeing major physical manifestations in our body (usually in the form of dis-ease) or disturbances in our lives.
For example – with anxiety – we may not seek treatment until we have worrisome heart palpitations or insomnia.
With fear – it can keep us so rooted down that we can’t move forward in life and have physical issues like debilitating back pain.
I’m hoping that at the end of this post you realize that emotions are giving us MAJOR clues that how we’re approaching life NEEDS TO CHANGE. I want you to also see that by working with them mindfully, we can prevent disease and help you live a long, joyful life.
The Seven Emotions Of Traditional Chinese Medicine And How They Affect Our Energy
Alright, let’s get into the emotions and after I go over them I’ll talk about how to work with them.
There are 7 emotions in Chinese Medicine, which relate to the 5 elements and their associated vital organs.
These 7 emotions are
When we are healthy, we have plenty of energy in our bodies. It’s distributed evenly and usually we are emotionally even too. When emotions are too excessive or are present for too long, they can disrupt the flow in the following ways:
Anger is related to the Wood element and the Liver organ. This also includes irritation, frustration, rage, and fury – so different levels of anger. Yes, fury is stronger than irritation, but irritation can still do damage because people are probably sitting with it longer than fury. So don’t discount an emotion just because you’re used to it or it’s mild. Anger and all it’s forms causes our Qi to rise. This usually creates heat conditions in the body too, like headaches, red eyes, high blood pressure when the energy rises.
Excitement – as well as joy, happiness, delight, elation – are related to the Fire element and the Heart organ. These emotions slow and relax the Qi. Sounds nice, right? However, we can have too much of a good thing! Excessive excitement can lead to exhaustion if we’re always overstimulated this way. It’s not sustainable and our energy crashes. Think Manic Depressive disorder – the depression (slow qi) comes because the mania is excessive and not sustainable.
Worry, contemplation, pensiveness, overthinking, and nervousness are related to the Earth element and the Spleen organ. When we experience these emotions many of us get a sense that we’re spinning in circles and that’s because the energy get stuck. It’s common for it to get stuck in the middle of the body and affects our digestion. One may experience stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea, IBS, or nausea because the natural downward moving flow of the GI tract is disrupted.
Grief, sorrow and melancholy are related to the Metal element and Lung organ. With time, these emotions can disperse and consume the qi in the lungs, making them deficient. This may affect your immune health since the lungs hold our “protective” Qi. So one may notice that they’re getting sick a lot or have other immune issues if grief consumes them.
Along with dread, terror and intimidation – Fear is related to the Water element and Kidney organ. Fear causes Qi to descend which can make us eliminate through the bowels often. It can also can cause chronic low back pain. What’s even more concerning is that the strength of the kidneys, and the low back, determine how long and healthy our lives are. And this becomes “inherited” Qi that is passed on to future generations.
In TCM, Sadness is different from grief because of the different affects on Qi. Like grief, sadness is associated with the Metal element and the Lung. Sadness (you) obstructs the flow of Qi, so actually blocks the movement of energy in the lungs. Can can cause issues and disease within the lungs themselves.
Shock, surprise, alarm, and trauma first affect the Heart/Fire element and then the Kidneys/Water. This type of unpleasant excitement disperses the Qi and then consumes it, ultimately making the Kidney energy deficient. Above with Fear, it was mentioned that the Kidneys hold a major part of our life force, life expectancy, and that this part is what is passed on through generations. It’s so important to treat shock right away so the person is able to regain control of their health and improve their lives.
Treating The Energy Of Emotions
When we identify that one of these emotions is excessive or the feeling has been prolonged, we know which organs and channels to work with within Chinese Medicine – with acupuncture, herbs, massage, or qigong.
We know which physical manifestations to look out for, to prevent or manage symptoms. So the treatment is very clear. When you commit to the TCM treatment plan, you will get better!
There is much you can do on your own too, though.
(1) Balance Your Emotions Through Action
Labeling your emotions and sitting with them is a really good start. And if you know for example, that your prolonged anger is causing your Qi to rise, what is the obvious solution?
That’s right, you bring your energy down. Ground and cool your energy and this will help you manage your anger and prevent it from affecting your body.
If you’re worrying too much, and feeling that your energy is getting stuck – actually moving your body – especially around your core – is going to help you feel more freed up and have the ability to let it go.
(2) Mindfulness of Emotions
I have a great meditation that will help you become more mindful and accepting of what you experience, without judging. You’ll learn to label and sit with your emotions. With practice, it will take less time to notice your feelings and let them go. You’re also less likely to integrate the emotions too much into your being.
Check it out here –> Guided Meditation: Mindfulness of Emotions
Want help processing your emotions and supporting your holistic health from this deeper perspective?
I specialize in the psycho-spiritual and emotional aspect of health in my practice. I’m happy to work with you at my office in Belmont, CA. We can also do online work together as well with this emotional work – qigong and mindset coaching to fully process your emotions. Feel free to schedule a free 15 minute consultation with me if you’re seriously interested in working with me but have questions before committing.
I hope this information was interesting and that you start to take your emotions more seriously! Well wishes to you friend!