In Chinese medicine there is an intimate relationship between the mind, body, emotions and spirit. Our emotions have an important influence in our lives and in our health.
Western medicine may recognize the interaction between the body and emotions but puts it secondary to other causes. Western medicine can view emotions as aggravating the condition or may ignore emotions altogether. In contrast, Chinese Medicine views the emotions as an important influence on the organs of the body and a major cause of disease.
Feeling emotions is a normal part of everyday life. However, when an emotion is prolonged, repressed, excessive, or unresolved, it can cause disease. If an emotional trauma happens and is not processed, it can lodge deep inside the body.
Unresolved emotions create an imbalance in the body and can cause blood and fluids to be stagnated. For women, this especially affects the female reproductive organs including the vagina, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and also the breasts. Any stagnation in these areas can lead to painful periods, endometriosis, fibroids, cysts, infertility and other health issues.
We may have been told to suppress our emotions when we were growing up. This lesson may have been repeated throughout our life. Boys being told they can’t cry and girls being told they can’t show anger. Society often expects us to just “feel happy” or “get over it” even when we’ve experienced profound loss and deep emotional turmoil.
Although the goal of life is to find happiness and contentment, the journey to get there means that we must process these emotions, whatever they may be. We must feel them deeply and profoundly so that we can release them. Only when we’re not bound by these repressed emotions can we feel truly happy and at peace with ourselves.
I recently finished Dr. Edith Eva Eger’s book, “The Choice.” It was profoundly moving. I cried through the first part of the book. Dr. Eger is an Auschwitz survivor, professional therapist and expert on PTSD. In the book she talks about her experience in Auschwitz and her own healing journey as well as those of her patients. She shows us the power of choosing to heal after the trauma.
“There is no hierarchy of suffering. There’s nothing that makes my pain worse or better than yours,” Dr. Eger writes. Each of us may have experienced emotional trauma to varying degrees at some point of in our life, and the effect of that trauma can differ with each individual. The important thing is not to compare our suffering with others because each of us experiences it differently.
Dr. Eger writes “We had no control over the most consuming facts of our lives, but we had the power to determine how we experienced life after trauma.” Each individual’s suffering may be different, but it is within our power to change our present circumstance, if we choose to do so.
An integrative care approach between Western and Eastern methods can be a comprehensive way to healing trauma. Working with a mental health care professional is important and they can give critical support in dealing with trauma, especially in acute and crisis situations. Adding holistic therapies to the treatment can provide further support in the journey towards healing.
In my own healing journey through trauma, holistic therapies made a big difference and took my healing to another level beyond just therapy alone. I practiced the ancient art of Qi Gong, meditation, got acupuncture and herbal medicine. These practices remain with me today.
As we navigate stressful situations like the current pandemic and other global events, these situations can trigger long-standing emotional trauma. A way to stay grounded and rooted is to have self-care practices in place so we can navigate through these difficult times.
As an East Asian Medicine practitioner, I incorporate the use of different techniques according to what the person needs at the moment. This may include acupuncture, acupressure, tapping, meditation, medical Qi Gong, essential oils and herbal medicine to support patients working through trauma.
In my clinic, patients may initially come in to get relief from their painful periods, back pain, fibroids or cysts. When the healing journey begins and we start to see the root causes of their condition they may uncover unresolved trauma or unprocessed emotions. Sometimes, the release of their pain or improvement of their health condition happens when they’re able to work through these emotions. As I tell many of my patients, if we don’t process our emotions, they can stay inside the body, get lodged deeper.
One of the first things that I instruct people to learn is how to breathe deeply from your belly. This space is called the lower Dan Tian, or “elixir field,” located about three finger widths below and two finger widths behind the belly button. The Dan Tian is where we connect to the universal life-force.
It’s the energy center of the body where we draw our inner strength and energy.
If you haven’t had the chance, check out the Breathing Roots Meditation that I recorded by clicking here. The breath is the foundation of getting in touch with your body and calming the mind.
There are different organs that are affected by each emotion. Anger affects the liver, joy affects the heart, sadness affects the lungs, worry and overthinking affects the spleen, fear affects the kidneys, and shock affects the heart. Unresolved emotions can cause stagnation. Stagnation can cause disease according to Chinese Medicine.
Acupuncture works by stimulating different pathways or channels in the body. Each channel connects to a different organ in the body. When we tap in the needle, we are trying to unblock channels and the organs. When we do this, it facilitates the movement of energy, blood, body fluids, and emotions in the body.
Qi Gong is an ancient practice that is a moving meditation you can do to stimulate the channels of the body, similar to acupuncture. We can tap into the different organs in the body to release the emotion that is not serving us anymore.
I also like to use essential oils in my practice to help with emotions and balance hormones. Essential oils can affect the Shen, or the Spirit more profoundly and deeply than sometimes the needles can. Each essential oil has a unique energetic property. Essential oils are specifically chosen and applied to a specific acupuncture points on the body. The unique energy of the oil travels along the body’s network of energy meridians to create the desired effect.
Chinese Medicine has long recognized the influence of emotions in our minds and bodies. Using ancient healing arts to heal from trauma can be a profound way to help in the healing journey.
Here are two more inspiring quotes from Dr. Edith Eva Eger:
“Our painful experiences aren’t a liability – they’re a gift. They give us perspective and meaning, an opportunity to find our unique purpose and our strength.”
“To heal is to cherish the wound.”
May you heal and may you be well.
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