Chinese Medicine Studies Shen, or Human Consciousness

Another year is about to end,  and we are reminded of the significance of a healthy mind while confronting the inevitable challenges that we face collec-tively and individually in life.  For centuries, Chinese medicine has incorporated emotional or mental states in the concept of Shen, the human consciousness. All organ systems work to support the heart which governs the distribution of the vital substances: Chi (energy), Jing (essence) and Shen (spirit or consciousness). Shen is the vital substance that is unique to human life. As the ethereal aspect of self that transcends limitations of time and space, Shen is founded on human consciousness as a process of self-awareness, personal expression, moral cultivation, emotional balance and individual purpose. Shen is the soil of individual authenticity, as it empowers a person to influence his/her own destiny through deeply rooted self-realization.

Shen is housed in the blood of the heart. The heart circulates the blood to every tissue of the body. Consequently, Shen is assessed through the degree of vitality that resonates from the exterior tissues. Shen is especially projected through the eyes. The sprout of the heart is the tongue and is therefore responsible for our ability to speak appropriately. This is crucial, since our word possesses the power to be received as truth and thus possesses the power to alter life. Shen is assessed through one’s speech. Most of all, Shen is assessed through the mental and emotional experience of the individual. In the context of clinical application, Shen is assessed through the manifestations of pathological syndromes.

Symptoms of these syndromes range from mild to severe and include: anxiety, mental chatter, palpitations, insomnia, excessive dreaming, poor memory, irritability, stupor, mental confusion, agitation, psychosis, and heart attack.

To calm Shen, a consistent chi gong and meditation practice stabilizes emotions and promotes a healthy state of mind and body. Furthermore, a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine can help to calm Shen by identifying areas of imbalance and applying an integrative treatment protocol which may include herbs, acupuncture, tuina bodywork, InfiniChi energy healing, diet and/or lifestyle counseling.

SpiritualEdsel Tan, L.Ac.