May this day support gentle self-reflection on our capacity for both giving and receiving love
The balance between giving and receiving is a very personal journey with the self and with others. On this mile marker towards the Spring Equinox, might we pause and give thanks inwardly or outwardly to those with whom we feel a sense of love, care and connection. What a beautiful gift it is to give and receive love. Bless your physical and energetic hearts forever and always.
The Heart in Chinese medicine
All of the organ pairs in Chinese medicine govern or are responsible for specific physiological, emotional and spiritual functions that curate and contribute to our overall experience of life.
Physiologically, the Heart governs the blood and blood vessels. It is responsible for the circulation of blood throughout the cardiovascular system. Heart all aflutter?? We treat arrhythmias in Chinese medicine.
Emotionally, the Heart governs our experience of and access to joy. It is half of the Fire element in Chinese medicine. All of the things you intuitively associate with Fire: passion, excitement, joy, anxiety, mania are clinically associated and acknowledged within the Chinese medicine framework as pertaining to the Heart. We support healthy Heart Fire, tempering the flames that can flare in the instance of anxiety or mania. Alternatively, we support the slow smoldering embers required to lift one out of a depressive state, when one experiences a lack of joy. Either state can be experienced when this organ system is imbalanced.
Spiritually speaking, the Heart relates to our consciousness. When our hearts are beating, we are able in a very literal sense to be awake - we are alive, we are conscious. This can be expanded upon in a spiritual context to communicate an aspect of our being that relates to our awareness. Awareness meaning our ability to sense and to feel moment to moment in our own bodies and as we relate to others and the environment around us. This aspect of the Heart is something I frequently discuss with patients in my clinic. So often there is a discrepancy between the amount of outward moving awareness versus our inward moving awareness. Bless you, you beautiful nurturers. Present in every treatment provided is tending to the nourishment of the Heart.
Nourishing the Heart: Loving Connection
I took a functional nutrition seminar with Tom Malterre, MS, CN and he mentioned something quite remarkable to the class regarding heart health and disease. He stated that the current literature has identified that the number one determining factor in whether or not someone developed heart disease was not dietary choices nor deleterious lifestyle factors. He stated that the number one determining factor in regards to the development of heart disease was an individual's experience of loving connection.
I mean, let's all just let that sink in for a second.
That is so significant!? And I do not mean that to pressurize or add anxiety about one's heart health and their relationships but rather to bring awareness to the fact that the health of the physical heart is nourished and supported through our loving relationships (and it is validated by science).
So let's have a round of applause for the true-blue lovers, the steadfast partners, the loyal friends, the kind and generous family members and your sweet, sweet selves. Taking the time to be present and connect with other humans is good for our heart health.
Nourishing the Heart: Acupressure
As vital as connecting with others is to our heart health, it is also an absolutely worthwhile practice to connect with and show love to ourselves. To be capable of loving generously is supported by our ability to acknowledge, care for and tend to our own needs.
A simple practice of self-acupressure can supplement the Heart energy, promote a state of calm and reduce one's experience of anxiety. HE-7 aka Heart-7 aka Shen Men (pictured above) is a very important point to nourish and support all of the functions of the Heart.
Apply gentle pressure in the area of Heart-7, notice for yourself if the application of pressure feels good or feels tender. Perhaps you feel the effect of the local acupressure somewhere farther up your arm or even in the center of your chest. Repeat for several minutes or as needed throughout the day.
Nourishing the Heart: The Breath
You're gonna be like "Fritz, enough with the breathing already!" but I can't because it's just so helpful!
Either lay comfortably supported on your back if that feels like what would serve you or sit upright for a slightly more engaged posture.
Place one palm over your chest and place your other palm below or near your navel. Begin to draw your attention inward as you start to notice your breath. You might notice any number of sensations, restrictions, ease, fluidity as you focus on your inhalation and your exhalation. You might notice the sensation of your heart beating as you take the time to shift your focus to yourself.
Over the course of a few breaths, see if you can coax or deepen your breath, widen the expansion throughout the sides of the ribcage. Breath more deeply into each of the areas underneath your palms. No need to be forceful, just see what is available to you in this moment of practice.
Give yourself plenty of breath. Whether you breathe for 1 minute or 15 minutes is up to you. Notice how the simple act of focusing on the breath shifts your experience and allows you to engage with the present moment to moment experience (even if it's challenging at first). Repeat as needed throughout your day.