In life there are many genuine reasons to grieve, to feel sad, to get angry or to feel resentful. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, being disregarded in your work or personal life, the ongoing challenges of the material world that we live in, not feeling fulfilled, dysfunctional relationships, broken relationships, the loss of a pet… the list is almost endless.
What makes the situation even more difficult is that in today’s society we are often under so much stress that the emotion is not given permission to vent or surface properly, which can lead to other difficult emotions and stronger feelings of sadness, grief, anger etc. and it is a self perpetuating situation.
A Look At Sadness, Grieving & Western Medicine
If you are sad or grieving and you live in a "western civilised country" then you may consider going to a doctor. Friends and family may be supportive, but as the emotion/s persists you and your support group may feel there is no better option. In many cases, depending on how the patient expresses these emotions, the doctor may decide to prescribe anti-depressants to help them.
There may be some cases where as a temporary measure this can appear to help, and unfortunately many other cases where it is the slippery slope to a dependency on prescription drugs.
Of course there are also doctors who may recommend counselling or some form of talk therapy, to give the patient the opportunity to deal with and vent the emotion/s.
Regardless of the route that is chosen, Western medicine does not recognise that certain emotions are linked to specific organs, and can therefore have either a detrimental effect or a balancing effect, depending on the degree and type of emotion experienced.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Recognises Relationships Between Emotions And Organs
However traditional Chinese medicine does recognise the relationship between emotions and organs, and it is an integral aspect of how both traditional Chinese acupuncturists and herbalists practice.
Even if you have no interest in going to a traditional Chinese medical practitioner, I have found that even by observing shifts in general well being, when you understand the inter-relationships between emotions and organs, can give some helpful indications of how to begin re-balancing these imbalances.
For example, doing something creative that you enjoy can give you these type of signals. Walking in nature can also do the same, as can reading something enriching. These are only a handful of examples of potentially balancing activities. Please note that although these are helpful, it would be highly recommended to visit a good practitioner who will help you re-balance thoroughly.
In traditional Chinese Medicine there are 7 emotions which are:
Each of these is associated to a different organ or organs. Let’s look very briefly at what these are.
1. Anger which encompasses anger as we know it, as well as resentment, frustration and irritability is linked to the liver.
2. Anxiety is connected to the lungs.
3. Fear or perceived fear is linked to the kidneys.
4. Fright is a sudden experience that will initially affect the heart but over time as the fright converts into a conscious fear, then it will also affect the kidneys.
5. Grief has a direct connection to the lungs and if it passes the stage of normal initial grief and manifests into chronic grief, then it may weaken the lungs.
6. Joy is related to the heart. In traditional Chinese medicine the emotion of joy refers to an agitated overexcited state.
7. Pensiveness in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) refers to over thinking or too much mental stimulation, which relates to the spleen.
These short snippets barely touch on the relationships, which are rather complex and also encompass the five elements (wood, earth, fire, metal and water). However my intention is to introduce the subject at this time, and to examine it in terms of the difficult emotions of sadness and grief, which is illustrated in the following case study.
A Case Study – Grief, Sadness, Stress, Anger And Resentment
A patient of Dr. Jingduan Yang, who is a fourth generation doctor of Chinese medicine, a board certified psychiatrist and a contributor to the Huffington post, is a good case study of grief, sadness, anger, resentment and stress.
This patient, whom he calls "Nancy", a woman of 30, had been suffering with lower abdomen pain for 3 months, which got worse after drinking cold drinks or eating oily food. A doctor she had attended had prescribed her medication which attacked the symptoms but not the cause, after not being able to discover any physical signs of infection, cancer, inflammation or other tangible condition.
However upon attending Dr. Jingduan Yang, it became apparent that her symptoms were indeed her friends and were desperately trying to tell her something important. "Nancy" had been ignoring the grief of losing a long term friend, which was combined with five years of stress of almost constant relocation and professional pressure.
A difficult routine, eating habits that were not conducive to a balanced life and health, married with grief, sadness, anger and resentment were brought back into balance by a combined holistic approach, which incorporated a course of acupuncture, herbal remedies, meditation, qi gong, and improved dietary and eating habits. This lady was helped to re-balance, as well as understanding the messages which her symptoms were giving and taking part in practices which gave her back more responsibility over her own health.
Grief and sadness are recognised in Chinese medicine to weaken the normal energy flow (qi) of the lungs as well as the large intestines.
Anger and resentment (a form of anger) are recognised to create blockages of energy (qi) and blood in the liver and gallbladder channels. In turn this can result in pain, mood swings, indigestion, insomnia and dysmenorrhea.
This is one case study of hundreds of thousands of studies that traditional Chinese practitioners have all around the world. Even if you feel sceptical about trying TCM, remember it has, and continues to help millions of people deal with the root cause of their imbalances and not just the symptoms. It is a great way to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit. It can help you understand and deal with your emotions before they become chronic, and can help you re-discover parts of yourself that became drowned in pools of stress and chronic emotions.
If you have been feeling any or some of these emotions, it can be a great relief to deal with them with the aid of a good practitioner.