Sunday, December 16, 2012
Oriental Medicine and the Heart-Mind Split In Oriental medicine, the Heart (Heart Yin) is likened to the emperor of a kingdom who resides in the imperial palace and functions as the spiritual figurehead of the country. In the poetic language of Oriental metaphor, this statement might be understood to imply that the Heart is the prime energetic field-generator. To further the analogy, in the ideal situation, the emperor does not actually do very much other than to comport himself regally while performing the various rituals and functions pertinent to the head-of-state. This is the state of "wu-wei" or effortless mastery in which nothing is done, but everything in the Body-Mind-Spirit functions harmoniously. It is a problem-free state of optimal health. When all is well in the kingdom, the people are happy and contented, the country functions without friction or turbulence, and there are no enemies. The spirit of the country is in fine shape. In a reflection of this kingdom analogy, the Heart is said to hold the spirit or Shen of the individual. When Heart and Mind dissociate, sooner or later, the mind wrests control away from the Heart and assumes the job of "head-of-state." In the early stages of this dissociation, there are usually no clues that anything is out of balance. But without access to the Heart's intuition, mind has no option but to operate using its powers of reason. It may do this quite successfully for a while, but feelings and intuitive hunches become increasingly ignored as the mind moves further away from Heart. Eventually, all calls of distress from the body are viewed with suspicion, pathologized, and treated antagonistically. Such a process inevitably leads to anxiety and depression or as Oriental medicine defines it, "Deficient Heart Spirit." In Western culture, anxiety and depression are common diagnoses, but since they are usually treated mechanistically, the loss of the Heart spirit is rarely appreciated. While antidepressant drugs can change brain biochemistry and help people's day-to-day functioning, a drug dependency is often created while the pre-existing split remains and may become even more entrenched.