UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONS THROUGH THE BODY


Understanding the concept of the intangible emotion has been a topic of interest since the beginning of history. Many scholars from diverse backgrounds such as medicine, neuroscience, philosophy and anthropology have stated their theories and drawn conclusions from a vast array of perspectives. However the relationship between emotions (psychological processes) and the body (somatic system) has been a primary focus for all. The writings of scholars in modern western medicine place emphasis on the dichotomy between the psyche and the body which suggests superiority of the intentional mind over the body. Albeit in East Asian medicine they focus on the bodily system (somatic system) to understand emotions and link different emotions with particular aspects of the body.


The famous classical Chinese medical text Huang Di Nei Jing outlays 7 core emotions that if experienced in excess or not properly transformed can damage their respective organ systems and cause disease. It is useful to understand that all emotions are healthy in small quantities and healthy expression of these emotions prevent energetic blockages and potential dis-ease within the mind and body.


The 7 core emotions are:

  1. Joy

  2. Anger

  3. Pensiveness

  4. Fear

  5. Fright

  6. Grief

  7. Anxiety


The Five Elements Framework


Traditional Chinese Medicine Five Element framework offers an ancient yet universal theory with what it embodies. The Five elements template is deeply integrated into Chinese culture and is the foundation for Chinese practices such as martial arts, feng shui and the I Ching (The book of Changes). The five elements framework places all natural phenomena into five master groups or patterns in nature. This framework is helpful for understanding how everything is connected within the universe and offers 5 major organs that correspond with specific emotions, which will be discussed below.


It is important to understand that within the five elements framework the organs have a strong relationship with one another so if one is affected then the others are too. Below we will look at the 7 core emotions and the 5 major organs.



Liver, GallBladder, Eyes - Wood


The Liver and Gallbladder functions:

The Liver's main responsibility is to maintain the smooth flow of Qi and blood in your body. It also controls the volume and smooth flow of blood in your vessels and stores the blood while detoxifying chemicals and metabolizing drugs. The GallBladder stores bile that is created by the Liver and it works to break down fatty foods. On a non-physical level this organ works to break down any difficult experiences or emotions and helps to maintain flow and Qi within the whole mind, body, spirit system.


Sensory organ association:

The eyes are the sensory organ associated with the liver and if you are experiencing blurred vision, red, dry or itchy eyes it may be a sign that your liver is not functioning properly.


Tissue association:

The tendons are the tissue associated with the liver and traditional chinese medicine believes that strength comes from tendons not muscle. This can be described by comparing the strength of a cat and a cow. It is best to be like a cat who is strong, flexible and agile rather than a cow who has big muscles but little real strength.


Imbalanced emotional association:

Anger, resentment, getting irritated easily and emotional outbursts of anger are all signs of an imbalanced liver and these emotions can cause a lot of damage to the Liver and it's partner organ the GallBladder. Melancholic emotions such as pensiveness can also cause damage to the liver but in a different way, often these emotions can cause digestive issues that last for long periods of time and effect the GallBladder.


Balanced emotional association:

Generosity and kindness are the emotions associated with balance in the Liver and Gallbladder. It is often said that you can tell if someone is a kind person just by looking into their eyes.


Element:

Wood is the element associated with the Liver and GallBladder.


Recovery and balance:

Releasing pent up anger is essential for bringing an imbalanced liver back into balance. Talking about your emotions with a professional or trusted friend can be extremely beneficial when dealing with feelings of anger, resentment or bitterness.


Journaling -

Journaling is also a very helpful tool to help you process any pent up anger. Writing about the emotions will help you process your thoughts and always remember to seek the lesson this situation brought you. Turn your focus back to the positives that may have come from this situation and try to find something to be grateful for in regards to this situation.


Simple exercises-

Gentle exercises like swimming and walking are great for building strength in the tendons and can increase the notion of flexibility within the Liver.


Foods:

Sour foods are associated with the liver and if you are craving sour snacks then listen to your body, it's your liver asking for nourishment! Avoid alcohol or drink in small doses if you want to have a healthy, functioning Liver.

  • Papaya

  • Watermelon

  • Grapefruit

  • Garlic

  • Green Tea

  • Blueberries and cranberries

  • Prickly pear

  • Beetroot juice

  • Grapes

  • Oatmeal

  • Cruciferous vegetables


The Heart, Small Intestine, Tongue - Fire

The Heart's functions:

The Heart's function is to pump blood around the body via the circulatory system, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and removing carbon dioxide and waste.

In traditional Chinese medicine it is said that the Heart is the king of all the organs and they believe that all other organs will sacrifice for the heart which means they will always give their energy to help the heart maintain its balance. The hearts partner organ is the Small Intestine.

It is said that the stomach is the 'child' of the heart so if the stomach is functioning well then the mother, the heart is happy or less impacted. Therefore this analogy teaches us that for the Heart to be in balance and thrive, the stomach must be in balance too. Within the five element theory it states that the Liver is said to be the 'mother' of the Heart because it is responsible for regulating and clearing any unwanted emotions. Therefore if the Liver is compromised with excessive stress or anger then this will weaken the support the Liver can give to the heart. If you want to support the Heart's functions then maintaining healthy digestive organs, Stomach and the Liver.


Sensory organ association:

The sensory organ surrounding the Heart is the Tongue. The condition of the Heart can be seen by observing the Tongue. If the Tongue is a healthy red colour then this shows a well functioning Heart. However, if the Tongue is pale this can show insufficient blood in the Heart or if the Heart has blood stagnation this will be reflected as a dark purple colour on the Tongue. Furthermore if there are cracks or lines down the Tongue this can indicate a potential Heart function problem.


Tissue association:

Blood cells are the 'tissue' associated with the Heart. Due to the face having many blood cells the complexion can be used to identify the state of the heart. Similarly to the Tongue, if the face is pale in complexion it can indicate insufficient blood whereas if the face is overly red it could suggest excessive heat.


Element:

Fire is the element associated with the heart.


Imbalanced emotional association:

Impatience, over-excitement and hate are all associated with imbalances within the heart. Here we see that too much joy in the form of over-excitement can actually add strain to the heart and potentially lead to impatience. Hate can be strongly felt within the heart and can have a damaging effect on your cardiovascular system.


Balanced emotional association:

Due to the heart being a universal symbol for love and kindness, this may not come as a surprise to you that signs of a balanced and well functioning heart can be seen in feelings of love for self, others and kindness to all beings.


Recovery and balance:

When dealing with an imbalanced heart you will most likely have suffered ill treatment from others and this will cause you to close and shut down your heart. However, it is very important to maintain an open, loving and kind heart especially when dealing with heartbreak or loss. For more help with heartbreak, click here.


Practice self love -

Look into the mirror each day and simply smile at yourself from a genuine place of unconditional love and acceptance. Aim to select 5 things that you love about yourself and speak them outloud with a genuine smile on your face.


Be kind to others-

Do something kind for others each day, especially in the form of helping others overcome any challenge you are currently going through or have been through. This is called dharma and it is an amazing way to restore balance within the heart space and clears karma as well as aligning yourself with your purpose.


Be of service-

Be of service to your heart and whatever you perceive God to be. Connecting with a higher source of intelligence and asking for them to use you a vessel to be of service to love in all forms will greatly service your heart healing and ascension.


Foods:

  • Fish high in omega 3 such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring and trout

  • Nuts such as almonds and walnuts

  • Berries

  • Seeds such as flaxseed and chia seed

  • Dark chocolate

  • Spinach, kale, swiss chard

  • Red, yellow and orange vegetables

  • Tofu

  • Oats

Stomach, Spleen, Mouth - Earth


Stomach and Spleen functions:

The stomach is responsible for digesting all of your food and drink intake which provides nourishment to your entire being, Stomach Qi is what 'feeds' all the other organs enough power to do their jobs. On a non-physical level the Stomach is responsible for digesting all of your thoughts and emotions so it is best to keep a positive mindset and only allow that which nurtures your spirit to stay in your inner world and to release anything that is hindering you in anyway. You wouldn't eat food that makes you feel bad or sick all the time so don't entertain thoughts that cause your mind pain and suffering! The Spleen is the Stomachs organ partner and it acts as a filter for the blood and part of the immune system. The Spleen recycles old red blood cells and pallets and white blood cells are stored there. On a non-physical level the Spleen assists the Stomach by removing any emotions or situations that cause us discomfort.


Sensory organ association:

The Mouth is the sensory organ connected to the Stomach and weak oral health such as bad gums or bad breathe can be a sign that your Stomachs health is compromised.


Tissue association:

The muscles are the Tissue associated with the Stomach and Spleen and if the muscles are weak, tire easily or cramp a lot this may be an indication that you may have a Stomach or Spleen imbalance.


Imbalanced emotional association:

The Stomach and Spleen are highly affected by chronic stress, worry and anxiety. If you experience a lot of worry, anxiety or fear you may have a Stomach or Spleen imbalance. In fact any emotion that is felt in excess can cause damage to the Stomach and Spleen because it is responsible for not only the food and drinks you intake but also the thoughts and emotions you internalise.


Balanced emotional association: Emotions such as trust, vulnerability and openness are often felt in a person with balanced Stomach and Spleen Qi.


Element:

Earth is the element associated with the Stomach and Spleen.


Recovery and Balance:

Maintaining a positive mental and emotional stance in your life can really help provide a healthy environment for balancing the Stomach and Spleen. The key is to interrupt your worrying thoughts with a positive and empowering statement to release your tension. Don't worry, be happy!


Affirmations-

Positive affirmations and mantras can really aid in your recovery, especially if you are prone to worry. You could implement a new mantra each day or week and come back to this mantra every time you start to worry.


Stress ball-

Buying yourself a stress ball could help in releasing anxiety, stress and worry.


Food:

Eat mainly cooked, warm foods and beverages as this can really benefit your stomach as it prefers warmth over the cold. Raw fruit is ok as it is light in nature but cold food and beverages should be mostly avoided when you have a Stomach or Spleen imbalance. Also make sure you eat your last meal by 6pm or 7pm at the latest to give the stomach a chance to rest.

  • Yellow or orange vegetables

  • Kefir

  • Yoghurt (live)

  • Sourdough toast

  • Sauerkraut

  • Ginger

  • Garlic

  • Bananas


Lungs, Large Intestine, Skin - Metal


The Lung and large intestines functions:

The lungs main functions include maintaining healthy immune defences against pathogens, as well as circulating Qi/Life force and fluids throughout the body. Both emotionally and physically the Lung along with its organ partner, the Large Intestine is responsible for helping you absorb what you do need and to 'let go' of whatever you do not need such as life experiences, emotions and metabolic by-products. When we experience overwhelming surges of grief or sadness this can affect our ability to 'let go'. The Lungs are also a physical expression of the connection between our internal realm and our environment. On a psychological level the Lungs can be associated with our personal boundaries and self worth as our boundaries determine what we will allow within our personal space and what we won't accept. Archetypally the Lungs are associated with the father as it is the father who teaches a sense of self value, boundaries and implements dis-connection from the mother. Good fathering teaches a strong sense of self-worth, individuation and respect for ourselves and others.


Sensory organ association:

The nose is the sensory organ associated with the Lungs and Large Intestine. Therefore if you are susceptible to sinus issues, colds, flu and runny noses it is important to take good care of these organs.


Tissue association:

The skin is the tissue associated with the Lungs and Large Intestines. The skin also takes in 1-2% of our oxygen through our pores and this is called cutaneous respiration. If you experience dry or sensitivity in the skin such as eczema, psoriasis or acne within the cheek region then this may indicate an issue within the metal aspect related to the Lungs and Large intestine.


Imbalanced emotional association:

Grief and sadness are felt in the Lungs, Large Intestine and skin.

If you have difficulty expressing grief or sadness or you have an overwhelming sense of sorrow such as depression this may suggest an imbalance in your lung energy.


Balanced emotional association:

Pride and courage are felt in the Lungs, Large Intestine and skin and can be a sign of healthy and balanced lung energy.


Element:

Metal is the element associated with the Lungs, Large Intestine and the Skin.


Recovery and balance:

It is important to talk about and process your feelings when dealing with grief and practice acceptance, forgiveness, letting go and feeling peace and relaxation when dealing with excess sadness or grief. Walking and spending time outside in nature is also highly beneficial.


Breath work-

The Lung is nourished by breathing so practising Lung exercises such as deep breathing, exercise and meditation can greatly assist you when dealing with an imbalanced metal element.


Breathing through your pores-

Cutaneous breathing or breathing through your pores is possible for human beings and our pores actually act as mini Chakras that can absorb vitamins and minerals from around you. When paired with visualisation and intention this practice can help you breathe in an emotion or energy of anything around you.

  1. Sit in a comfortable or relaxed position

  2. Imagine the energy, emotion, vitamin or mineral you wish you inhale and immerse yourself in the experience

  3. Take a deep breath and imagine breathing through every single pore in your body and absorbing the chosen emotion/energy/vitamin.

  4. Breathe out through your nose or mouth the energy or emotion you no longer desire to hold onto.

Food-

Try to drink lots of water and eat foods that are either spicy (if you do not have a dry skin condition) or that moisten the lungs and generate fluid such as:

  • Apples

  • Pears

  • Basil Leaf Tea

  • Peppermint Tea

  • Grapefruit

  • Lemons

  • Fatty Fish

  • Poultry

  • Berries

  • Nuts

  • Broccoli

  • Cauliflower

  • Spinach

  • Beans

  • Chillies

Kidney, Bladder, Ears - Water


Kidney and Bladder functions:

The kidneys function is to maintain and balance fluid in the body as well as filtering waste minerals from blood and removing any harmful toxins or chemicals from foods or substances. The Kidney is the powerhouse of the body according to traditional Chinese medicine as it provides vital Qi energy to any other organ in the body that is running low. The Kidney stores 'prenatal Qi' which is inherited from your parents and when another organ is low on energy the Kidney sends it a Qi boost from this source. The Kidneys partner organ is the Bladder and it receives the urine from the Kidneys and allows urination to be infrequent and controlled. On a non-physical level the Kidneys and Bladder act to remove fear and damaging emotions.


Sensory association:

The sensory association with the Kidneys is the ears. Any issues with the ears such as deafness, tinnitus or ear infections often indicates that your Kidneys need extra support.

Tissue association:

The Bone is the tissue associated with the Kidney and if your kidney Qi is low you may have issues such as osteoporosis, dental issues or developmental issues.


Imbalanced emotional association:

Fear, panic attacks and worry are all indicators of an imbalanced Kidney and/or Bladder. Fear is first felt within these organs as when the fight or flight adrenaline kicks in and the adrenal glands are responsible for this physiological response. Fear relaxes the bladder so incontinence could be a physical manifestation of your fear. Furthermore, if you experience regular urinary tract infections you may want to look into whether you are experiencing fearful thoughts and aim to release any fear and transmute it into empowerment while also looking into how best to heal and nourish your Kidneys and Bladder.


Balanced emotional association:

Feelings of comfort, stability and relaxation are associated with balanced Kidneys.


Element:

Water is the element associated with the Kidneys.


Recovery and balance:

Balancing the Kidneys and Bladder can be achieved by resting more often and bringing yourself into a relaxed state on a daily basis. If you have signs of an imbalance within these organs then it is essential to take time to rest and nourish your body and mind.


Meditation-

Meditation is an amazing tool that can help you relax and quiet the mind. Meditating for at least 15 minutes per day can drastically help you achieve balance in all areas of your body.


Hydration-

Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water and beneficial teas such as green tea, fresh basil tea and peppermint tea will really help you bring these organs into balance and maintain it.


Food:

  • Cauliflower

  • Cabbage

  • Red bell peppers

  • Cranberries

  • Onions

  • Garlic

  • Blueberries

  • Red grapes

  • Buckwheat



I hope this information brings you a deeper understanding into your emotions and how they are intimately related to your organs and body.


Many blessings to you all!