There are many quotes, idioms, and song lyrics that revolve around the heart. Emily Dickenson, in 1862 stated “the heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care” and from a spiritual and traditional Chinese medicine lens – this happens to be true. Our heart is one of the most powerful organs in the body and offers insight to a much deeper perspective to how we live, love, and connect with ourselves and those around us. When it comes to expanding the heart space, it is important to look at the heart through the lens of its physical functionality all the way to the mind, body, and spiritual connection we know (and may have forgotten) over time. In Chinese medicine, expression of your most authentic self is one of the most important ways we can be of service to the function of our hearts on a deeper level.
Western Lens of the Heart
In Western medicine, the brain is often referenced as the most important organ to sit at the top of the bodily hierarchy. When in fact, the heart takes precedent in the chain of command as once your heart stops functioning – you stop functioning. This organ is admirably incredible beating 100,000 times each day to push five thousand gallons of blood throughout our bodies to ensure it receives enough oxygen and nutrients. It accomplishes all of these critical functions sitting slightly to the left of our chest and is only about the size of a fist (talk about being ‘little’ but fierce!).
Eastern Lens of the Heart
The heart is known as the ‘Supreme Controller’ in Chinese medicine and presides over our mind, body, and spirit. Home of the spirit (or shen), the health of the heart and strength of the spirit is evaluated by tending to the emotional health patterns we experience over time. If you’ve ever looked into someone’s eyes and noticed they look dull or lifeless or vacant? This is what is referred to as ‘shen disturbance’ and begins to develop when one is beyond exhausted and overwhelmed, struggling with, and/or recovering from trauma. Signs that may arise pointing to possible shen disturbances are anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate, heart palpitations, insomnia, and being easily startled. By evaluating these symptoms and their presence over time, it is a wonderful way to assess the strength and status of your spirit and where the heart and shen need the most support.
Heart-Centered Time of Day
11 am – 1 pm is the peak time for our Heart energy to flow through our body, specifically our Heart meridians. One way to connect to your truest self is to set aside time during this window to engage with activities and people that bring you the most joy and make you feel most like yourself. To support your energy and heart health, eat a nourishing meal that consists of foods red in color – such as raspberries, strawberries, beets, apples, red cabbage, red onions, red bell peppers, and tomatoes. Enjoy heart-nourishing herbal teas such as hawthorn, rose, tulsi, and reishi.
Spiritual Connection and the Heart
The spiritual connection to the heart space is a powerful one that not only deepens the relationship we have with ourselves, but also energetically transmutes to the relationship we have with others. Across ancient traditions, the heart space has been seen as a hub of perception, consciousness, wisdom, love and sacred awareness. The heart is the site of the soul and center of our inner peace and the mind, body, spirit connection directly correlates this synergetic relationship between heart conditions and ones overall spiritual well-being. Although we have been conditioned in our society to turn up the volume of our minds and tune out the truthful intuition of our hearts, when we lean into the positive emotions that we experience from consistent psychological and physiological safety within our heart’s spiritual connection – our hearts become reinvigorated with love, compassion, and gratitude,
One of the best ways to connect to your heart space is through the breath. When the shen of our heart is disturbed from stress and anxiety, coming back to your heart space to regulate the body is imperative. To do this, start by placing your hands over your heart and take a few deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. This helps to lower an increased heart rate and increase the oxygen and nutrients your heart receives.
Ways to Expand Your Heart Space
Meditation: helps to regulate the “fight or flight” response and triggers from stress and can lower blood pressure while reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Yoga: restorative and yin yoga are calming practices to enhance the connection with your heart space and is wonderful to engage with during the heart meridian window of 11am – 1pm.
Acupuncture: seeking consistent treatments support the nervous system (which plays a significant role in regulation of the heart), and can help regulate blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve an overall quality of life.
Meaningful conversation: having a “heart-to-heart” with yourself and others through conversations with deeper meaning and opportunities for connection.
Have you found yourself on your healing journey and are looking for the next steps to strengthen the spiritual connection you have with yourself and the world? I’d love to support you in bringing your gifts from the surface of your soul and into the sweet surrender of collective healing. Take a deep dive into the next step of your healing through one of my 1:1 opportunities.