Edsel Tan, L.Ac.
Another year has ended,
and we are reminded of the
significance of a healthy mind
while confronting the inevitable
challenges that we face collectively
and individually in life.
For centuries, Chinese medicine
has incorporated emotional or
mental states in the concept of
Shen, the human consciousness.
All organ systems work to support
the heart which governs the
distribution of the vital substances: Chi
(energy), Jing (essence) and Shen (spirit or
consciousness). Shen is the vital substance that
is unique to human life. As the ethereal aspect
of self that transcends limitations of time and
space, Shen is founded on human consciousness
as a process of self-awareness, personal
expression, moral cultivation, emotional balance
and individual purpose. Shen is the soil of individual
authenticity, as it empowers a person to
influence his/her own destiny through deeply
Shen is housed in the blood of the heart.
The heart circulates the blood to every tissue
of the body. Consequently, Shen is assessed
through the degree of
Vitality that resonates
from the exterior tissues. Shen is especially
projected through the eyes.
The sprout of the heart is the
tongue and is therefore responsible
for our ability to speak appropriately.
This is crucial, since
our word possesses the power
to be received as truth and thus
possesses the power to alter life.
Shen is assessed through one’s
speech. Most of all, Shen is
assessed through the mental
and emotional experience of
the individual. In the context of clinical
application, Shen is assessed through the
manifestations of pathological syndromes.
Symptoms of these syndromes range from mild
to severe and include:
Anxiety, mental chatter,
palpitations, insomnia, excessive dreaming,
poor memory, irritability, stupor, mental confusion,
agitation, psychosis, and heart attack.
To calm Shen, a consistent chi gong and
meditation practice stabilizes emotions and
promotes a healthy state of mind and body.
Furthermore, a practitioner of Traditional
Chinese Medicine can help to calm Shen by
identifying areas of imbalance and applying
an integrative treatment protocol which may
include herbs, acupuncture, tuina bodywork, diet and/or lifestyle counseling.