Have you ever had a ‘gut’ feeling about something? Have you ever felt your heart ‘burn’ with emotion? Do you have the ‘gall’ to say what you mean even when it might not be socially acceptable? Have you ever had the ‘piss scared out of you?’ These phrases contain a kind of folk wisdom. They contain the intuition that our feeling life is linked to our internal organs. Since, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)fear is associated with the kidneys and bladder, fire is the element associated with the heart and the ability to set boundaries is associated with the liver and gall bladder TCM is completely at home in this kind of language. TCM arises from a culture where the distinction between mind and body does not exist. From our most ‘base’ human drives to our most ‘elevated’ feelings of inspiration there is a physiological element at work.
According to qigong organs can be firm, but they should not be rigid. They can be soft, but not soupy. We can translate these ideal qualities of the organs into the realm of psychology and social action. Here one can be firm as far as principles are concerned without being rigid and needing to have everything one’s own way. One can be empathetic and compassionate without being ‘wishy washy.’ In TCM it is not merely that there are analogies between our ‘inner’ psychological world and our ‘internal’ organs, but it is believed that they are one. Our emotional life is the proprioception of subtle biochemical processes in the internal organs. When the organs are calm we are calm. When they are operating in harmony and balance we are in balance. The more balanced we are, the more we naturally feel that we can trust our intuition in dealing with life situations. We can flow and respond rather than react and contract. We can meet the living moment rather than imposing upon it our own strategies, schemes and patterns. In one situation we might need to yield. In another, we stand firm. As the life force moves freely through our internal environment a kind of spontaneous wisdom emerges. It is the wisdom of ‘The Way’, the wisdom of life itself. It is this wisdom, rather than a rigid set of rules, that we use to navigate our life.
The ‘Motion & Emotion’ series will teach the basic principles of TCM 5 Element Theory. We will learn the emotions and virtues traditionally associated with the organs and learn qigong methods for moving and massaging the organs. We will work with the meridians or energy pathways that run through the body and learn to feel how the limbs and organs are interconnected.
Tracing our feelings back to their source means we can accept responsibility for our own life journey. No longer projecting our negativity on other people or on ‘the world’ we can take the vital step of acceptance and accountability. This opens the door to creative living. It opens the door to virtue. Not the kind of virtue that is cultivated through conformity to an accepted pattern, but the virtue that arises naturally and spontaneously. In this way of thinking virtue is simply getting out of the way and allowing LIFE to express itself through our bodies, feelings and actions.
“If you open yourself to the Way, you are one with the Way and you can embody it completely”
-Dao De Jing