I mentioned in my earlier post “An Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine” that I have created a Reiki healing system based on working with the “Five Elements” of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In a series of articles I have been talking about different aspects of the Five Elements and how they impinge on people’s lives: how imbalances in the five elements can show themselves as physical conditions and particular emotions and states of mind.
I have written about how the elements support and control each other through the nourishment and control cycles, I’ve spoken about the meridians and body organs that relate to each element, and in my recent articles I have been talking in a lot more detail about the emotions of the elements.
Now in some blog posts I am talking about particular states of mind that derive from each element and which relate to a particular body organ. Last week I spoke about the mental states of Wood. Today we talk about…
The Mental states of Fire
Fire is the only element that is represented by four organs: the Heart (yin organ) and Small Intestine (yang organ), the Heart Protector (yin organ) and the Triple Heater (yang organ). The Heart Protector is also known as the Pericardium or the Circulation Sex and, along with the Triple Heater or Sanjiao, has no physical Western counterpart.
The movement of Fire is vertically upward, from deep in the earth up into the sky, from the material to the spiritual, from unawareness to consciousness. On the mental-emotional level, Fire brings out joy, dancing, laughter, awareness, and the ability to have an encompassing view of things.
The Heart can be viewed as a ‘supreme controller’ overseeing the workings of the body-mind-spirit, and in Japanese acupuncture writings the Heart is seen as so sacred that it is not treated directly. An imbalance in Heart energy is like chaos ruling in a kingdom, with a lack of peace and harmony, and leads to feeling a kind of inner panic and loss of control. The Heart is seen as the centre of consciousness, feelings and thoughts, and is one of the places where ‘Shen’ resides.
Shen can be translated as spirit or soul. A person is said to ‘have spirit’ and this gives an idea of what is intended by the word Shen. Shen lives in the heart, its Lower House, and here it makes sure we have balanced feelings and a clear, honest way of speaking. Its higher house is the third eye chakra, where it brings forth clarity of thought and a conscious life direction. When a person has these characteristics, then their Shen is powerful and healthy, and it is said that you can se this by a sparkle or light in the eyes.
If Shen is confused or lacking in energy then it is noticeable in unclear thinking or an inability to organise thoughts, in speech defects like lisping, stammering, stuttering or even muteness. It produces emotions full of highs and lows: one minute you are shouting for joy and the next you want to die. This description would fit with hysteria and manic depression also. A dispersed and confused Shen shows itself in nervousness, fearfulness, stage fright, insomnia and dull, unfocused eyes, all caused by a disturbance in Fire.
If there is too much energy in the Heart then there can be talkativeness, excessive perspiration and nervous tension. People believe that they must do everything themselves and not delegate, they must keep control of everything and they are incapable of letting other people take responsibility. This behaviour equates with the ‘Type A’ personality – manager sickness – with its stress-related illnesses from high blood pressure to heart attacks. This imbalance is usually connected with an energy deficiency in Water, the element that controls Fire.
On the other hand, when the energy in the Heart is weak, a person may become unable to express themselves clearly, or it may result in partial or total muteness, and a dulled or non-functional sense of taste in both the gastronomical sense and in terms of the psyche.
The Heart Protector
The Heart Protector, or Pericardium, is seen as a ‘buffer’ that takes the bumps and bruises that would otherwise go straight to the heart and disturb the integrity of the body-mind, so the Heart Protector allows the ‘supreme controller’ to carry on its work without interruption. It works as a bodyguard. On an emotional level, the Heart Protector helps to protect the ’emotional’ heart, and it brings out the ability to be generous to oneself and to others, to radiate warmth and to love. It also affords us the ability to give and the ability to accept complaints, criticism and love from others. A healthy Pericardium produces a person who is able to speak from the heart and be cordial and affectionate, enthusiastic, humorous and ‘hearty’. The opposite of this can be seen in someone who is ‘cold-hearted’ or small-minded, someone who has a ‘heart of stone’.
On a physical level, the Pericardium meridian would be treated when there were problems like heart pains, angina, tachycardia, heartbeat irregularities or circulatory problems. The Heart Protector governs the ‘pulse of life’.
The Small Intestine
The Small Intestine can be seen as separating the pure from the impure, sorting and grading and redistributing, and this is seen as happening on all levels. The Small Intestine sorts particles of food: keeping those with nutritional value and passing on the rest as waste, but you can also see this process carrying on at the emotional level, and at the mental level, with the sorting and sifting, the assimilation, of ideas and thoughts. An energy deficit in the Small Intestine is displayed in a person who takes in knowledge, convictions and beliefs from others in an ‘undigested’ form, and they are unable to develop personal views and belief systems out of this. It is said that the appearance of a person who is able to assimilate is displayed through a fine, silent laughing in the eyes and around the lips.
If this organ is out of balance, then we may see symptoms that express confusion of the body-mind. For example, hearing difficulties could be seen as an inability to sort sounds effectively, and digestive problems could be seen in a similar light.
None of the elements exist in isolation, separate and unaffected by the others, so if there is an absence of proper sorting, if there is unclear information coming through, then decision-making is going to be affected (the realm of the Gall Bladder).
The Triple Heater
The functions of the Triple Heater are closely connected with those of the Heart Protector; in fact it is ‘assigned’ to the Pericardium. Again it does not have a Western physical counterpart, and its functions are protective. It is the most complex of the ‘organs’. The Triple Heater’s function is to guard all the body’s organs and control their temperature. The torso is seen as being split into three ‘burning spaces’ or ‘burning cavities’, with each space corresponding to certain organs. The upper space contains the Heart and Lungs, the middle space contains the Stomach, Spleen, Gall Bladder, Liver and Small Intestine, and the lower space contains the Large Intestine, Bladder and Kidneys. Thus the upper space is concerned with respiration, the middle with digestion, and the lower with elimination and reproduction. The Triple Heater co-ordinates these three areas of the body. For example, it co-ordinates the depth and frequency of the breath in relation to digestion and sexuality, it maintains the body’s temperature at optimum levels within the three burning spaces, so that the organs can carry out their functions in harmony.
Because the Triple Heater is so complex it is the easiest to bring out of balance, and in Acupuncture the Triple Heater would be considered whenever there was an imbalance in the energy of one of the organs, otherwise the cause of an illness might be misdiagnosed.
In Five Element Reiki we are able to work on the level of dealing with energy imbalances in a particular organ, though initially we focus on bringing balance to each element in its entirety. By balancing an element and flushing its energy through its organs, we usually bring its organs into balance, and bring balance to the other correspondences of that element. By balancing Fire, and flushing Fire Energy through its organs, we will be bringing the Triple Heater into balance without having to consider it specifically, though we can focus energy on it, and the Heart Protector, using intent.
Finally, what does balanced Fire bring to us? Well, when the Fire element is balanced in a person, summer brings us joy and fulfilment. We have an inner balance from which to oversee events, we know when to speak and we know when to remain silent. We can feel joy without becoming excessive. We can steer and lead others, while knowing when the time is right to pull back. Our eyes glow, we know goodness and magnanimity, and we have good taste.
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Picture credit: DammitKarissa