"The spirit is infinite; on the other hand the body is finite"
Approximately 400 years ago Descartes, upon whose theories western medicine is based, considered the heart to be nothing more than pomp. According to the many centuries old Chinese texts called the Neijing Suwen, the heart should be considered as the "Lord Sovereign", the sovereign master responsible for our spirit (our Shen) and our sparkle
By nature the heart is expansive, communicative, radiates light and is related to the fire element. The heart energy is therefore associated with the summer. The energy is most active between 11:00-13:00. Its partner the small intestine is active between 13:00-15:00.
The expression to "do something with your heart" indicates its relationship between body and mind. Furthermore it is the strength of our soul which keeps us alive and which accelerates the process of healing. When you meet a person, try to recognise if their eyes are sparkling, if they speak passionately, with exuberance or with a stammer and to what extent they express a love of life (joie de vivre). The above mentioned factors along with the degree of elasticity of the skin indicate the condition of the heart energy.
The heart energy is known in the ancient Chinese texts as the "President and his Envoy", both responsible for pleasure and ecstasy. The hart is connected to the pericardium (the hearts envoy), to the diaphragm and the solar plexus. All three regulate internal circulation, the expansion and contraction of the heart and the unobstructed movement of the breathing and lastly they help protect the heart from emotional disruption. Small intestine energy flows along the front of the ears, along the sides of the neck, over the shoulder blades and along the back to the buttocks. In this way it strongly influences mobility and the symptom called "frozen shoulder", stiffness in the neck and hearing disabilities can indicate a disturbance in small intestine energy.
The process of digesting food which began in the spleen-pancreas and stomach, is continued in the small intestine which separates the pure from the impure substances. When the essence of the food has been transformed, the pure food essence is transported to other organs, such as the lungs and to the limbs via the spleen. The impure waste is transported to the large intestine and the bladder. Small intestine energy protects the heart, deflecting dangerous influences in the same way as a connoisseur separates poisonous food.
Whilst five people could eat an apple, each apple will be digested differently according to the individuals nutritional needs and according to the way that an individuals digestive organs function. Insufficient assimilation of food essence can be attributed to a person’s lack of recognition of unpleasant emotional memories or the difficulty in accepting ones emotions; information is then not integrated and made available to the consciousness. (Shiatsu Theory & Practice, Carola Baresford Cook)
We all need to do things that we would rather not do. Yet when this becomes a chronic part of our daily life, the energy of the mind and soul are weakened. The heart rules over all other organ functions, so you can imagine what kind of effect a weakening in the strength of spirit will have, especially if the condition continues for a number of years. Much or our day is spent working in order to earn money, so it is very important that we have a high degree of contentment in the work we do.
The affairs of the heart, those which stir the soul, such as being in love, the tensions and disappointments which exist in an intimate relationship, or those caused by not having a relationship, all have a direct influence upon the energy of the heart, the function of our organs, our blood circulation and our mind. It is not unusual that a person becomes overcome by melancholy when the energy of the heart is weak and insufficient. When the energy of the heart is excessively strong a person will be prone to laugh continuously and hysterically.
Anxiety, certainly when present for long periods will hurt both the spirit and the mind. In extreme cases anxiety can lead to shrinking and a stiffening of the bones, to emaciation or dulling of the skin and amount of hair on the head. Insomnia and disturbances in the rhythms of sleep also occurs when the energy of the heart is out of balance.
Both the heart and the small intestine are both made from the same kind of tissue during the development of the foetus. Recently Japanese scientists have discovered that the blood is produced in the small intestine and only produced in the bone marrow during periods of abnormally high stress, for example during vesting or loss of blood (Revolution of biology and Medicine. Kikuo Chichima)
The heart regulates blood circulation and the supply of oxygen, giving the blood its red colour. Afterwards the blood nourishes the entire body, in a similar way to when we water the plants in the garden. The condition of the blood vessels is ruled by the heart, whilst the energy related to the spleen-pancreas keeps the blood within the blood vessels. The immergence of varicose veins indicates that the function of the spleen-pancreas is disturbed. The small intestine energy is also related to blood circulation; the condition of the ovaries and menstrual functions. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine the blood functions as an ‘anchor’ for the spirit (called the Shen).
The quality of your blood is nourished according to the kind of food you consume; by the quality of air we breathe and by the way we breathe.
The relationship between the heart and small intestine energies is one which relates consciousness (heart) with that of vital life energy (Ki, Chi, Prana). In the upper body, the hart integrates the energies emanating from emotional and sensory impressions into our consciousness, whilst in the lower body the small intestine energy integrates essence taken from food, which then produces blood and Ki.
People I have treated who suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury (R.S.I) have a lot of heat in the upper body, especially in their head, where they "live" during long periods of the day. In contrast the lower body is cold and isolated from communication. The following symptoms can develop whenever the function of the small intestine energy is disturbed: nervousness; restlessness; poor digestion; low in energy; anaemia; constipation or diarrhoea.
Heart energy is related to higher states of consciousness and to levels of inspiration in your life. Yoga considers the heart chakra (Anahata = the unconquerable) as the seat of purity. "Only when you reach anahata does one become a yogi..until then you are a practitioner of yoga. In (the condition of) anahata one becomes a yogi because one is completely established in yogic consciousness and you depend solely upon the power of your own consciousness, rather than anything that is external or concerned with faith. Anahata chakra can be aroused and awakened through the practice of bhakti yoga, in which there is no place for egotistical consciousness" Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Kundalini Tantra.
It is stated by yogis that the present phase of human evolution is one of anahata chakra. The heart chakra is situated behind the centre of the chest bone opposite the inside of the spinal column and is directly connected to the centres of the brain responsible for creativity; the fine arts, such as painting, music, poetry etc. In this area thoughts and desires are materialised and fulfilled. Until consciousness begins to ripen at the level of the heart chakra, you will be controlled by your destiny. Once this ripening process is completed you become totally independent of all influences.
At the base of the image of anahata chakra, a tree can be seen, the Kalpa Taru. When this tress begins to bear fruit, everything that you think or desire becomes reality. Perhaps it is fortunate that this is not yet the case with the majority of us!