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group study Emotions in Health Preservation and Internal Training

Group study openly invites people to exchange thoughts together based on premises that are always explicitly pointed out, however loose they might be, and when any fixed outcome isn't called for. It's good to keep mindful and respectful of both what is and what isn't relevant for discussion though.

Roots of Virtue

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Emotions in Health Preservation and Internal Training​


The meaning and importance of emotional regulation in preserving good health and being a competent internal training practitioner. Maybe we should have more discussion around that topic?

There are a few ways to formulate the seven emotions in terms of Classical Chinese Medicine so here are two good sources giving slightly different points of view. Please note that this is an issue of translation and interpretation: the basic theory connecting to the five element transformations and the respective organ systems is not changed.



What Are The Seven Emotions?​

Suwen (The Book of Plain Questions) says "The five yin-organs of the human body produce five kinds of essential qi, which bring forth joy, anger, grief, worry, and fear." TCM also believes that certain organs are related to emotional activities, i.e. the heart is related to joy, the liver to anger, the spleen to pensiveness, the lungs to anxiety and the kidneys to fear.

The emotions are considered the major internal causes of disease in TCM. Emotional activity is seen as a normal, internal, physiological response to stimuli from the external environment. Within normal limits, emotions cause no disease or weakness in the body. However, when emotions become so powerful that they become uncontrollable and overwhelm or possess a person, then they can cause serious injury to the internal organs and open the door to disease. It is not the intensity as much as the prolonged duration or an extreme emotion, which causes damage. While Western physicians tend to stress the psychological aspects of psychosomatic ailments, the pathological damage to the internal organs is very real indeed and is of primary concern of the TCM practitioner.

Excess emotional activity causes severe yin-yang energy imbalances, wild aberrations in the flow of blood, qi (vital energy) blockages in the meridians and impairment of vital organ functions. Once physical damage has begun, it is insufficient to eliminate the offending emotion to affect a cure; the prolonged emotional stress will require physical action as well. The emotions represent different human reactions to certain stimuli and do not cause disease under normal conditions.

Joy
"When one is excessively joyful, the spirit scatters and can no longer be stored," states the Lingshu (The Vital Axis). However, in TCM, joy refers to a states of agitation or over-excitement, rather than the more passive notion of deep contentment. The organ most affected is the heart. Over-stimulation can lead to problems of heart fire connected with such symptoms as feelings of agitation, insomnia and palpitations.

Anger
Anger, as described by TCM, covers the full range of associated emotions including resentment, irritability, and frustration. An excess of rich blood makes one prone to anger. Anger will thus affect the liver, resulting in stagnation of liver qi (vital energy). This can lead to liver energy rising to the head, resulting in headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms. In the long run it can result in high blood pressure and can cause problems with the stomach and the spleen. It is commonly observed that ruddy, "full-blooded" people with flushed faces are more prone than others to sudden fits of rage at the slightest provocation.

Anxiety
"When one feels anxiety, the qi (vital energy) is blocked and does not move." Anxiety injures the lungs, which control qi (vital energy) through breathing. Common symptoms of extreme anxiety are retention of breath, shallow, and irregular breathing. The shortage of breath experienced during periods of anxiety is common to everyone. Anxiety also injures the lungs' coupled organ, the large intestine. For example, over-anxious people are prone to ulcerative colitis.

Pensiveness
In TCM, pensiveness or concentration is considered to be the result of thinking too much or excessive mental and intellectual stimulation. Any activity that involves a lot of mental effort will run the risk of causing disharmony. The organ most directly at risk is the spleen. This can lead to a deficiency of spleen qi (vital energy), in turn causing worry and resulting in fatigue, lethargy, and inability to concentrate.

Grief
The lungs are more directly involved with this emotion. A normal and healthy expression of grief can be expressed as sobbing that originates in the depths of the lungs - deep breathes and the expulsion of air with the sob. However, grief that remains unresolved and becomes chronic can create disharmony in the lungs, weakening the lung qi (vital energy). This in turn can interfere with the lung's function of circulating qi (vital energy) around the body.

Fear
Fear is a normal and adaptive human emotion. But when it becomes chronic and when the perceived cause of the fear cannot be directly addressed, then this is likely to lead to disharmony. The organs most at risk are the kidneys. In cases of extreme fright, the kidney's ability to hold qi (vital energy) may be impaired leading to involuntary urination. This can be a particular problem with children.

Fright
Fright is another emotion not specifically related to only one organ. It is distinguished from fear by its sudden, unexpected nature. Fright primarily affects the heart, especially in the initial stages, but if it persists for some time, it becomes conscious fear and moves to the kidneys.

Adapted and slightly edited from: http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/principles/sevenemotions.html



Seven Emotions and Qigong​


The seven human emotions, i.e. joy, anger, worry, anxiety, sorrow, fear, and terror are normal phenomena of life activities which do not induce diseases under normal circumstances. However, abnormal fluctuations in the “seven emotions” may directly affect he functions of the viscera, disturb the circulation of blood and Qi, and thus cause diseases. Being affected by these emotions, the exerciser of Health Qigong will not be able to enter a peaceful and calm state free of distracting thoughts. And the results of the exercise will be naturally affected.

It is believed in theories of the traditional Chinese medicine that: “Anger impairs the liver, joy impairs the heart, worry impairs the spleen, sorrow impairs the lungs, and terror impairs the kidneys.” Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Su Wen: Ju Tong Lun says: “Rage drives Qi upward, overjoy slackens Qi, excessive sorrow consumes Qi, terror collapses Qi, …… and anxiety causes Qi stagnation”. All of these have indicated that the excessive and over-excited “seven emotions” will impair the mental and physical health of man to certain extents.

Joy is an embodiment of the happy and delighted mind. Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Su Wen: Ju Tong Lun says: “Joy will harmonize Qi and facilitate both nutrient and defensive Qi.” But over-joy will impair the cardiac Qi, just as Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Ling Shu: Ben Shen says: “The spirit should be hidden and kept from being lost during joy”, indicating that excessive joy will impair the mind. The heart is the core, commander, and grand master of all the five Zang viscera. It is the key to the health of the body. By practicing Health Qigong, we can regulate the blood-pumping function of the heart and enrich cardiac Qi.

Anger is an embodiment of agitated emotion of man. People get angry and furious when they are discontent and unsatisfied. Generally speaking, proper expression of emotions is important for maintaining the physiological equilibrium of the human body. But persistent rage, fury, and gloominess will cause negative effects on the organism. Gloominess impairs the liver and upheaves liver Qi. Blood will ascend with the upward invasion of liver Qi, congesting the brain and causing discomfort of the body. This will lead to headaches, cerebral distension, hypochondriac pains, chest distress, dry eye syndrome, and even critical symptoms such as faint, hematemesis, and shock. Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Su Wen: Ju Tong Lun says: “All diseases originate from Qi…… Anger will cause adverse rising of Qi and even hematemesis or diarrhea”. Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Su Wen: Sheng Qi Tong Tian Lun says: “Excessive anger leads to segregation of QI from the configuration; and blood stagnating in the upper part of the body will cause raged syncope.” The liver controls dispersion and blood storage. It facilitates the functional activities of Qi throughout the body, keeps unobstructed circulation of Qi in the channels of all viscera, stores blood, transports blood, and regulates and controls the blood supply for various parts of the body.

Worry means something or someone that causes anxiety. Excessive worries will have negative effects on the organism, impede the movements of Qi, and cause Qi stagnation. It is believed in traditional Chinese medicine that: “anxiety causes Qi stagnation”. It was said in ancient times that: “When the shape is not straight, Qi will not move smoothly. When Qi does not move smoothly, the mind will not be at ease. When the mind is not at ease, spirit will be scattered”, indicating that obstructed circulation of Qi has a direct influence on the spirit of man. Excessive worries will lead to obscure complexion in the spleen and stomach, dyspepsia, insomnia and dreaminess, dizziness, and many other symptoms.

Sorrow (depression) is the embodiment of sadness and depression. Excessive sorrow will impair the pulmonary Qi and cause short breath, just as Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Ling Shu: Ben Shen says: “sorrow will block Qi and hamper its circulation” and “deficient pulmonary Qi will cause nasal obstruction and asthenia Qi”.

Fear (terror) is the embodiment of apprehensive and fright. Excessive terror will impair the kidneys and cause chaotic Qi in the viscera. Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Su Wen: Ju Tong Lun says: “Terror collapses Qi……Terror disorders Qi”.

To sum up, all “seven emotions” have important connections with the internal organs of the human body. The “seven emotions” are normal emotional signs of man and do not induce diseases under normal circumstances. And they actually play an important role in maintaining the normal physiological functions of the human body. But over-excitation which exceeds the normal range of regulation of the human body will result in diseases. Exercises of Health Qigong are mainly featured by: Body regulation, breath regulation, and mind regulation. Body regulation is the basis for breath regulation and mind regulation, while mind regulation is the core of the “Three Regulations”. It provides good regulating effects on all the viscera. Therefore the “Three Regulations” have very good influencing, regulating, and controlling effects on the mental state and temperament of man. And the emotional changes of the “seven emotions” will in turn influence the results of Health Qigong exercise. Therefore it is of great importance and value to learn the “seven emotions” and maintain a normal state of the “seven emotions” during the practice of Health Qigong. By doing so we can gradually replenish the “three treasures” of body (essence, Qi, and spirit) to achieve sufficient essence, abundant Qi, and complete spirit and thus truly understand the essentials of health preservation, disease prevention, and body-building.

Adapted from here (original source isn't available anymore): https://neigong.net/2011/09/26/the-seven-emotions-and-qigong/
 
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Roots of Virtue

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Shanrendao and Virtue Healing​


Below is a diagram that shows Wang Fengyi's Shanrendao tradition's insights into the classic Five Elemental Processes and how they connect to different human frameworks. These can also be useful in diagnosis which is clearly presented in the clinical healing cases of Liu Yousheng's magnificent book: Let the Radiant Yang Shine Forth: Lectures on Virtue.

shanrendao-five-elements.png

For more about Shanrendao and and its virtue healing, see the following page and its compiled links:

Resources on Wang Fengyi's Virtue Healing
 
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Roots of Virtue

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In his own words, at the age of 100, Wang Ji Wu describes his principles of living a healthy life:

The heart is calm and quiet as still water​


One must always maintain a calm heart even when influenced by the seven emotions; joy, anger, happiness, worry, sadness, fear and surprise. The heart must remain as calm as still water, never allowing any personal desires to stir up a ripple of disturbance. My thoughts are pure, in spirit I seek to forget myself and transcend the common affairs of the world, keeping my life simple and my desires few. With a clear heart, I do not contend with others or make demands upon the world, but rather seek to contribute what I can for the benefit of all, aiding those in need and protecting those in danger.

Without desire one is strong, without desire one is quiet, without desire one may return to what is natural, without desire one returns to the original state. With a heart still like water, from the extreme stillness will spring action, from the void comes that which is alive, yin and yang are in harmony and the qi flows unimpeded. With a heart still like water qi is sufficient and the spirit full. When the qi is sufficient and the spirit is full, the organs functions normally, the blood is nourished, the meridians, nerves, digestion, and circulation are all healthy and the metabolism stimulated. When the factors which prevent aging all are strong, one may prevent illness and live a long healthy life.

Humans are holistic beings which are possessed by of a certain vitality. The spirit and flesh are inseparable and form a complicated entity. The human vitality supports, influences, and is responsive to the person as a whole, while the spirit is the leader and controller, the "commander-in-chief" of the being as a whole. Under certain circumstances, it can be said that the spirit "pulls at one hair and the whole body follows" or at the slightest stirring of the spirit the whole being responds, and each movement of the spirit has a real effect on the individual. Therefore I put special emphasis on the spirit as the leader, ever strengthening my resolve to cultivate my spirit, maintain calmness of the heart and become as pure as light without a speck of dust. This is akin to the meaning of a Song Dynasty poet who wrote "to understand the highest virtue," applied to the present time. Better yet, this cultivation of the spirit and the heart will improve the physical constitution of the people, protect their health, and contribute to a long and healthy life.

Source: Xing Yi Nei Gong: Health Maintenance and Internal Strength Development, pp. 30-31
compiled and edited by Dan Miller and Tim Cartmell
Unique Publications (Oct. 1998), ISBN 0865681740
 
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endbegin

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Thank you for all these, this is great knowledge. My teacher also spoke about this but I never wrote down the details!

I wish to add, because it's a problem I had - I expected qigong to be an indefinite fixer. I had a setback when I ran into a few life problems a couple of years ago which left me with all sorts of frustration and sadness. I thought the qigong had let me down, but in reality, it was two things:

1. Although I was in a bad way, the qigong hadn't let me down. I was still alive and breathing and eventually realised I had the tools to fix myself. Time is still a healer, and the qigong mindset helped bring me back.

2. I realised that I hadn't been sufficiently applying my training in all moments of the day. I had gotten "lazy" with my practice and let my emotions get the better of me.

So I can't emphasise enough, qigong does not finish after you finish your set - it's important to keep breathing properly throughout the day. Any interaction still creates yang energy, so this should be watched with care.
 
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One Finger Chan

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So I can't emphasise enough, qigong does not finish after you finish your set - it's important to keep breathing properly throughout the day. Any interaction still creates yang energy, so this should be watched with care.
The same goes for the other two aspects.
Negative emotions makes the body contract, but when we realise this, we should release the contraction and return to a more expanded and fluid movement pattern.
 
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endbegin

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The same goes for the other two aspects.
Negative emotions makes the body contact, but when we realise this, we should release the contraction and return to a more expanded and fluid movement pattern.

It is so subtle too! I didn't train first thing this morning because I had some things I needed to catch up on. Due to the focus, and perhaps "cramming" what I could into two hours, I went to do my forms after and immediately knew I wasn't calm. I could feel such contraction around the shoulders and arms preventing any full extention.

Without training, I would have said I was "relaxed". To the outside eye, I could fake it, but what good is that? Sure, I was able to use my breathing to accomplish my earlier tasks efficiently, but it was VITAL to actually train afterwards.
 
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Earl Grey

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This is interesting in Xin Yi when we do Zhan Zhuang: in the most ideal circumstances, you stand when happy or neutral to do so relaxed. When upset, you stand anyway and break the rule but learn to relax even in negativity, which also causes the negativity to dissipate.

Martially, this can help, but medically--it isn't always the best thing to do.
 
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One Finger Chan

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Martially, this can help, but medically--it isn't always the best thing to do.
When it comes to emotional reactions, including stress, sometimes relaxing is not the most efficient way to release.
The brain, through a mechanism called "active inference" sometimes require a proper "response" from the body.
Basically, relaxing could become a way of supressing the reaction, while the mind instead wants us to complete (might not be the word I am searching for) the action we were motivated to do.

I find the martial five elements (Xing Yi) doing this better than the medical five elements I have tried, because the former tend to be more grounded in the movement.

When we complete the movement, the bodymind release the tension in the nervous system.

Some of the somatic psychotherapies utilise this, for example Peter Levine.
 
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Roots of Virtue

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@One Finger Chan You definitely are onto something. The parasympathetic nervous tone which is the usual "rest and digest" mode could be more easily accessed by hand motions rather than feet if we consider which meridians travel to arms and hands: spleen and small intestine most pertinently. Yet, there is the other nervous tone that functions independently and is associated with the feet: parasympathetic.

Good grounding Kungfu like Xin Yi and Baguazhang put a lot of emphasis on static Zhan Zhuang and active legwork which progressively shake off many layers of deep seated tension in complementary ways. Both methods activate the kidney and bladder meridians which in turn interact with the adrenal glands, and this seems to be a major part of the harmonizing effect that restores the healthy sympathetic nervous tone. The kidney system and the water element are thought to be the source of enervation and marrow in terms of Classical Chinese Medicine in any case.

Speaking of fight or flight or freeze mechanism associated with extreme frightful situations: It would be really, really difficult to flee without using one's legs. Hence, if the stress response really wants us to discharge an interrupted response, then it must have its proper outlet to act.
 

Earl Grey

Gonzo Daoist and Dharma Punk
Teacher
When it comes to emotional reactions, including stress, sometimes relaxing is not the most efficient way to release.
The brain, through a mechanism called "active inference" sometimes require a proper "response" from the body.
Basically, relaxing could become a way of supressing the reaction, while the mind instead wants us to complete (might not be the word I am searching for) the action we were motivated to do.

I find the martial five elements (Xing Yi) doing this better than the medical five elements I have tried, because the former tend to be more grounded in the movement.

When we complete the movement, the bodymind release the tension in the nervous system.

Some of the somatic psychotherapies utilise this, for example Peter Levine.

Relaxation is but one part of Zhan Zhuang in Xin Yi, as we do more than that and sink. Most of the system can be hidden with the internal practices done simultaneously with standing, from the strength exercises to the hindrances. Even if we break the rules of no sex or alcohol before, the reason we're encouraged to break the rules in the beginning is so that we have the ability to fight in unideal circumstances, but the health and fitness strangely are affected and I can't explain it very well, I just know that it affects my own stress to the point that I don't have a fight or flight response for physical confrontation... unless it's a verbal altercation, which then makes me more like an Apex Predator approaching its prey.

This is still not healthy at times since it can burn jing fast if done frequently and improperly.
 
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