The 5 emotions.
Just as climates exist within seasons, emotions are the main forces within the human psyche. We all experience moments of anger, joy, worry, sadness and fear in the course of our daily lives. These emotions are often appropriate. It is natural to feel anger when we are frustrated, happiness when we are satisfied, pensiveness when we turn our attention inwards, sadness after a loss and frightened by danger. However, when one of these states dominates our inner experience or our external behavior, it interferes with the conduct of our daily life and alters the smooth flow of Qi or energy.
The five emotions are associated with the five elements of Qi. In excess, these emotions generate imbalance.
Fear causes energy to sink; the bottom falls out. When survival is threatened, one becomes petrified by terror and loses control. As in the threatening cold of winter, the person feels frozen with fear.
Anger causes energy to rise; it tends to ignite and disintegrate like a sudden explosion, like windy spring storms, unpredictable and intense.
Joy causes the dispersion of energy; it tends to dissipate and get lost. An excess of joy, like the intense heat of summer, can make a person dizzy and weak, dry and exhausted.
Worry causes energy to diminish; slow movement leads to stagnation, and one becomes lazy and inactive, like the oppressive humidity of late summer, slow and awkward.
Sorrow causes energy to stop; it tends to limit and immobilize. Imprisoned in sorrow, one isolates themselves from life; like the dead leaves of autumn, feelings wilt and motivation fades.
Emotions are immaterial and yet palpable. Although, or because, they are experienced inwardly, they are difficult to define and catalog. However they have profound intangible effects. In Chinese medicine they are considered one of the main influences on health and illness.
Wind and anger particularly hurt the liver; heat and joy, the heart; moisture and worry, the spleen; dryness and sorrow, the lungs; cold and fear, the kidneys.
Food and Emotions
How do you feel after a few drinks? Certainly more uninhibited. What about when you are very hungry? You may want to bite someone. What if they take your coffee from your breakfast? They might think you miserable for not even giving the time of day. How about a bit of irritability before that time of the month?
Our brain is very sensitive to the presence or absence of certain substances in the blood : alcohol, caffeine, lack of glucose or estrogens. Neurons are the most demanding and most “wasteful” cells in our body. They need glucose, oxygen, vitamins, minerals and amino acids to work properly, and they do not tolerate garbage (toxics and toxins).
Our emotional responses reside in the amygdala of the limbic system located in the centre of the brain that surrounds the brainstem. When we are trapped by desire or anger, when love drives us crazy or fear drives us back, we are actually under the influence of the limbic system. People with lesions in the amygdala have altered emotions or they lack them completely. Although our mind normally controls the output of emotional states, sometimes emotional responses are so fast that our thinking brain (neocortex) has no time to act.
Both our limbic system and our neocortex are made up of millions of cells that feed off blood. The quality of blood depends on the feeding and functioning of the assimilation, transport and disposal systems. Therefore emotional balance depends, among other factors, on nutritional balance. For example, some amino acids from proteins give rise to neurotransmitters (communication agents between neurons); others to neuropeptides, which modulate these exchanges of information. Without zinc we cannot smell; fatty acid imbalance disturbs vision; without glucose we have no energy; without sodium there is no nerve transmission.
It is curious to see how our character changes when our diet changes. A good diet often does more good than some psychological treatments. In any case they are two tools that mutually support each other. We must not forget that we are a whole and that dealing with the body on one hand and on the emotions on another can not give good results.
In Oriental medicine, physical, emotional and mental aspects are inseparable.
The five main emotions, fear, anger, joy, compassion and affliction, are linked to the energy of the five elements, water, wood, fire, earth and metal.
Each emotion corresponds to the most characteristic of the human being in the different stages of their development: fear at birth, the baby’s anger or vitality, the joy of the adolescent, the determined action and compassion of the adult and the dispossession and the fiction of the old man.
The five elements and the emotions.
Fear. Fear occurs when survival is threatened. A man possessed by fear can only think of escape. His life is dominated by the expectation of the threat, and so he isolates himself and hides from the world. He becomes furtive and suspicious, does not trust anyone and prefers to be alone.
He is the hermit, the vagabond and the loner. He expects the worst, imagining calamities and disasters at every corner. He lives under a cloud of doom and pessimism. Critical and cynical, he believes that the world is fundamentally cruel, dangerous and hostile.
Among people he keeps quiet. His isolation can eventually disconnect him from life, leaving him cold and hard as stone, impenetrable and devoid of spirit. Because of this hardening, he tends to develop arthritis, deafness and senility.
Healthy fear is the awareness of our own limitations of ability, strength, circumstances…it is related to courage and will and allows us to recognize the danger in order to react appropriately.
It is related to the element water. Energy deficiencies of the kidneys and bladder will lead to recklessness or excessive shyness.
Fear counteracts joy and is counteracted by compassion and generates anger.
Too much salt in the diet, too many protein or mineral supplements can block the kidney’s energy and accentuate the feeling of fear or stimulate it too much, producing recklessness (excessive courage).
Anger. When anger predominates, a person is easily annoyed by frustrations and obstacles, unable to adequately control their feelings. The person is volatile, and behaves chaotically and impulsively. They oscillate between passionate interest and muted indifference. These unstable emotions and unpredictable reactions are the result of the uneven circulation of Qi and blood, which usually create a state of generalized tension.
This type of person often has a double life. They usually have tremendous self-discipline to maintain composure and control over themselves. But when stress increases, or when they relax and lose their inhibitions, they can explode in anger or fall into thoughtless and impulsive behavior. At work they can be dedicated, extrovert and efficient, but over the weekend, after a few drinks, they can “lose their temper” and “get into a rage”. They tends to suffer problems like ulcers, hemorrhoids and migraines.
Anger represents the natural instinct to become something, to live, to develop by fighting environmental constraints in the same way that a plant urges itself to sprout through the earth into the light, or a chick breaks through its shell. Only adequate individual growth and development can engender firmness and self-confidence that together constitute joy.
Anger is counteracted by affliction and counteracts compassion. The element associated with anger is wood.
The liver is responsible for the elimination of toxins. Food loaded with toxins, fried foods, fats, excess food, etc., produces irritability and intolerance that are manifested with shouting, excitement and nervousness. Sometimes these nerves are internal and create anxiety states that manifest with bad digestion and sometimes with ulcers.
Joy. When pleasure becomes the main objective of a person’s life, they becomes unable to maintain their energy reserve. They seek gratification at every moment and are exhausted, driven to a permanent search for more stimuli. They seem fun and aromatic, but in reality they are unable to maintain interest and excitement without external support and attention from other people. They do not like being alone.
Without company they feel lifeless; whereas in company they come to life. They tend to suffer from anxiety, insomnia and feeling desperate. Their excitableness manifests itself as nervous laughter, talkativeness, bewilderment and artificiality. That kind of person dissipates their energy by living at a thousand miles per hour. When they are not euphoric, they are down in the dumps. Their high level of activity causes an accelerated metabolism that can take the form of hypoglycemia, anorexia or schizophrenia. These are the manifestations of heat. In fact, the person often feels confused, disconcerted and restless.
The joy of living depends on the fire element. An overload in the energies of the heart, small intestine, triple burner and circulation, will manifest itself in the form of euphoria with certain manifestations of hysteria, with laughter and effusive and untimely words, whereas a lack of energy produces sadness (lack of joy), anxiety and difficulty speaking.
In the generating cycle, joy is the mother of compassion and in the controlling cycle it is counteracted by fear.
Foods that alter blood circulation influence this emotion. Red meats, eggs, dairy, fat and salt block the cardiovascular system, the heart overworks and can lead to arrogance.
Excessive expansive foods such as fruits, drugs, alcohol, stimulants and synthetic vitamins weaken the organs of the fire element and can lead to overexcitement that alternates with states of sadness.
Worry. When a person is overly reflective and contemplative, they often wallow in worrying thoughts and ideas. They torment themselves with their fixation on details and get caught up in a circular thought from which there is no escape. Their attitude to life can become obsessive to the point of being unable to accommodate new thinking or experiences. Quiet but somber, sure but sad, they tend towards apathy and boredom.
People rely on this type of person because they inspire confidence, are understanding and caring. Without work demands or responsibility , they become inactive. In this state their energy becomes stagnant and causes digestion problems, heaviness and weakness.
Compassion or “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes”, insight and understanding of the right thing to do at every moment, acting decisively, are all linked to the organs of the element Earth. An alteration of the spleen-pancreas or of the stomach leads to doubt and distrust or to too much insight and distrust.
Compassion counteracts fear, is counteracted by anger and engenders affliction.
Foods that make the blood glucose level fluctuate like sugar or sweets can heighten doubt and make us worry too much.
Too much baked goods, very concentrated foods, and those that increase heartburn, can paralyze our action.
Sorrow. When sorrow prevails, the person isolates themselves and defends themselves from the pleasure of the bond and the pain of loss. They arrange their lives with the purpose of avoiding risk and cravings for passion. They can become possessive, greedy and dominant in their effort to control their environment. In their eagerness to protect themselves they can be too distant and inaccessible to true intimacy.
They usually despise people who they consider sentimental and undisciplined and feel uncomfortable when emotions are manifested. They are tense, polite and scrupulously composed. Without the strict order of their daily life, they become completely vulnerable and threatened. It is this excessive control that manifests itself as asthma, constipation and frigidity. They avoid excitement and feelings.
Regret or grief, the positive emotion we feel during separation is tied to the metal element. With an appropriate balance this emotion allows us to release ourselves in time and accept the detachment. It manifests itself as crying. A blockage of residues in the large intestine can lead to resistance to loss, while a lack of energy in the metal element leads to a decreased capacity of analysis, and with it to the worst of depressions, the suicidal kind (total detachment from oneself).
Regret is counteracted by joy and counteracts anger.
A lack of vegetables, fiber and an excess of animal products, make intestinal elimination difficult and can cause us to become too attached to things or situations. Excessive expansive foods such as sweets or too much raw food weaken this element and can lead to depression.
The information published on our blog is extracted from the Bibliography used for the development of the Sowen Point software.
- Between heaven and earth: a guide to chinese medicine. (Harriet Beinfield, Efrem Korngold).
- El Equilibrio a través de la alimentación. (Olga Cuevas Fernández).
- Timeless secrets of health and rejuvenation. (Andreas Moritz).
- Holistic health through Macrobiotics.(Michio Kushi con Eduard Esko).
- Fundamentos de Bioenergética. (Carlos Nogueira Pérez).
- Tratado de sanación en el arte del soplo. (José luis Padilla Corral).
- El gran libro de la medicina china. (Li Ping).