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Cultivate Your Virtues this Valentine's Season

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Our emotions, attitudes and self-perceptions are often physiologically rather than emotionally based. This is a very powerful concept. It means that people's emotional outbursts may have more than stress or inappropriate behavior behind them; it also means there may well be an underlying organic imbalance that is triggering the repeated or increased expression of a particular emotion. Thus when the imbalance is corrected, the emotion comes into balance, too. Likewise, if someone overindulges in a particular emotion, even if there's no Organ imbalance behind it, then it negatively impacts its corresponding Organ.

I've seen this over and over with patients. Be it their grief, anger, fear or worry, when their respectively corresponding Lung, Liver, Kidney or Spleen imbalances are corrected, those excessive emotional feelings naturally decline. The opposite is also true, for I've seen patients experience the death of a loved one and they grieved so long and hard that it weakened their Lungs so they came down with a cough, bronchitis or pneumonia.

An Organ's associated emotions are considered its vices and virtues. The vices are the adverse emotions that arise when an Organ is imbalanced and the virtues are the beneficial emotions that help that Organ flourish. In ancient times physicians worked with patients to change their vices (adverse emotions) into virtues as a way to strengthen their health and cultivate harmony. They called this "cultivating the virtue." One does this by focusing on the corresponding virtues of each Organ and then developing them. It is further possible to strengthen an Organ by providing it the essential needs it has; for example, movement aids the Liver and beauty helps the Heart.

The following chart lists the Organs with their essential needs, vices and virtues. Enjoy exploring these as you practice cultivating your virtues this month!

HEALING WITH THE EMOTIONS

ORGAN

ESSENTIAL NEED

VICE/INJURING QUALITIES

VIRTUE/HEALING QUALITIES

HEART 

Love, joy, beauty

Over-excitement, over-achieving, excess joy, fright (shock), sadness, unhappiness, excessive laughter, talking, partying and reading, excessive worrying/thinking, fear, anxiety, shock

 

Compassion, caring for yourself, following your heart's desires and spiritual path, love, working with your emotions, psychotherapy, joy, beauty, enthusiasm, joy of life, open-heartedness, laughter

LUNGS  

Confidence, time and space

Exposure to Cold, grief, sadness, criticism (from others or self), shallow breathing (you don't give yourself enough breath), unworthiness (don't feel worthy of living/breathing), reclining excessively, not living in the present but holding on to past sadness & hurts (pain in the present = hurt; pain in the past = anger; anger directed at self = guilt), get the old hurt stuff out!

Protect yourself from Cold (especially back of neck), conscientiousness, feeling good about one's self, creating room for yourself, enough time & space, confidence (its more important to act confident than to be confident), gratitude (it gets you breathing and allows things to come to you), being in the present

 

LIVER 

Relaxation, peace, herbs

Anger, frustration, resentment, irritability, impatience, depression, annoyance, timidity, cowardice, excessive reading, repressing or stuffing your emotions, excessive and prolonged anger.

 

Kindness, forgiveness, respect, esteem, service, benevolence, decisiveness, a healthy drive, creative expression, physical movement, appropriate emotional expression and release, naturally induced altered states, bravery, assertiveness, courageousness, herbs and medicines

SPLEEN 

Nurturance, nutrition, giving to others

Obsession, worry, pensiveness, confusion, brooding, always caring for others without getting the care you need, dwelling on the past, eating on the run, while doing business or standing up, poor diet (especially excessive intake of cold and damp foods and drinks) and excessive sitting

Empathy, centeredness, right action, instinct, intuition, nurturance (being nurtured on all levels), good nutrition and giving yourself what you need (don't expect others to give it to you), quit giving it away (i.e., nurture yourself!).

 

KIDNEY 

Rest, quiet, sleep, meditation, drinking water

Fear, paranoia, worry, fright, apprehension, mistrustfulness, stubbornness, procrastination, excessive weight lifting, sitting on damp ground.

 

Courage, wisdom, meditation, resting, sleep, drinking water, cultivating wisdom (knowledge plus experience) and holding to a purpose in life, being resolute, determined, firm and enduring.

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