Ancient Wisdom for Modern Wellness


Heart, Fire and Spirit…

Posted on February 2, 2015

To finish out the February, the month of honoring the heart, I want to share what it is in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The Chinese have long said that the heart houses the spirit. And the pericardium protects this house. Both of these are associated with the Element of Fire.

The Fire Element is also associated with the emotion Joy. It is expressed in the external sensory organ of the tongue. It supports healthy vessels for the blood to flow. The taste associated is bitter.

When all is balanced and well in our world, the fire element shines brightly by the sparkle in our eye and a luster to our skin – we are joyful and have healthy relationships. We just have a natural glow that sometimes people associate with being in love. When the fire element is stagnant, we become less joyful, more anxious and don’t fall asleep easily. Our brain is overrun with thoughts and our spirit is dampened. The complexion can either be purplish or just lack luster.

The sympathetic and nervous system are often associated with the Fire Element as well. And much like fire, if we burn the candle at both ends for too long or too hot, we tend to burn out. What often is referred to in our culture as adrenal fatigue can be linked to the Fire Element.

People that have mental disorders, are manic or are just bitter about life have an imbalance in these channels associated with the Fire Element.

Have you ever heard anyone describe having a bitter taste in their mouth after an unusually harsh interaction where no love or joy was present? We all know that when you throw wood on a fire it burns hotter and faster. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, when there is a great deal of anger which fills the Wood Element it then flows into the Fire Element. This could cause a surge in passion or action. If suppressed and becomes stuck could cause someone to be bitter.

We, as a culture, have often tuned out our own spirit, seal off our hearts. Our heads constantly argue with our heart, and we often make choices based on what we think we should do, instead of what we know in our hearts is best for us.  Is it any wonder that in the United States 25% of all deaths are due to heart disease?

When it comes to matters of the heart and mind in TCM they are the same source… the Fire element.

The message I want to get across today is that we have the power within ourselves to honor our own heart and spirit. In doing so, we have more vitality as an individual and as a whole (family, community, and culture). Science looks for answers in diet and exercise and herbs and medicines from other cultures to explain why they have lower percentages of deaths due to heart disease and they don’t look at belief systems and culture. For the future generations of the world, I think it is important to teach them, not only the science of good nutrition and the benefits of exercise, but also to follow their heart and honor spirit.

Cheers to the heart, fire and spirit! I hope February has brought Joy to your heart and life.