Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is commonly understood that
emotional and physical health are closely allied and are, in fact,
wholly interdependent. Illness arising from an organic source will
eventually lead to or create an emotional response, for instance,
chronic pain of any type is always followed by a depressive state.
The converse is also true. Chronic depression eventually leads to a
breakdown of the immune system and metabolic decline that can lead to
conditions that range from an increased susceptibility to colds and flu
to obesity and heart disease.
In TCM, some of the relationship, between mental emotional and
physiological states can be loosely summarized as follows:
Anxiety and depression tend to damage the liver or can be the result of
Grief and sorrow tend to injure the lungs and can be due to lung
injuries like asthma and bronchitis.
Obsessive compulsive thinking and behavior tend to damage the spleen and
stomach or can be the result of a dysfunctional digestive system.
Fear, fright and paranoia suppress the function of the kidneys or can be
caused by repression of the kidneys and adrenal function.
Too much of any emotional condition, especially in sudden bursts, tends
to injure the heart. Even a pleasurable emotion can injure the heart. A
weakened heart can make every emotional fluctuation a dangerous
Since emotion in excess is potentially responsible for a wide variety of
disease condition, the Taoist sages have always counseled emotional
moderation. The “middle way” is one of the fundamental concepts in
Taoist philosophy but is often misunderstood in the West. The middle way
is not Prozac, the Taoists did not advise that we live in an emotional
vacuum in order to preserve the health and harmony. The lack of
emotional outlet is as potentially devastating as the any one of the
emotional excesses listed above.
Two ways to develop emotional moderation are through meditation and Qi
Gong practices. Stability of emotion has as its base the stability of
mind. The concept is a simple one, the firmer the root the stronger the
tree. Nothing ensures a firm mental root like consistent practice of
meditation techniques. The more the mind is called upon to behave in a
disciplined manner, even for ten minutes a day, the better behaved that
The first question that springs from most of my patients is “which
meditation or Qi Gong practice is best”? The answer to that is whichever
one you find that you like enough to make a daily practice out of. It
does no good to learn esoteric and complicated meditation techniques and
Qi Gong forms if you are not inclined to practice them. I advise again
the middle way. Find something that is simple and enjoyable and that can
be done within a reasonable time on a daily basis.
Another bit of advice is to learn what is at hand. It is impractical to
go on a four year quest to find “just the right master with just the
right technique”. Try something on, practice it for a few months, if you
don’t like it try something else, but don’t waste valuable time
searching for the perfect practice. The perfect practice will be the one
you use every day.