Basis of a calm, steady personality, Heart Blood provides the ground for a happy life. Good relationships, diet, sleep all help.
July 7, 2020
Heart Blood in Chinese medicine has a bigger meaning than in Western medicine. For a moment, please forget the four chambers of your heart, the way it pumps blood from one to the other and then round your body!
Yes, that’s a vital function for life, and Chinese medicine values your blood just as highly as Western medicine. But Chinese medicine provides a deeper level of understanding, based on observation of millions of people over 3000 years: that’s not to be sniffed at!
First, to get to grips with what they mean, please have a look at what they mean by Blood.
Residence of the Mind – your Heart Blood
What they say is that your Blood (and your Yin) are where your Mind is said to reside. ‘Residence of the Mind’.
If Heart Blood isn’t adequate, it’s like a family house made out of straw, built on a flood-plain. It would be uncomfortable, unsuitable, the wrong size, and unheated: not to mention that it might be flooded or blow away at any moment.
(Also, if it were made of straw there are additional factors: I grew up on a farm and often played in the haystacks. Believe me, you go home itching, and probably carrying unwelcome visitors to the house too.)
Living in such a house, they wouldn’t be able to live healthfully, nor sleep properly. They would often be ‘out of sorts’. They would tend to be anxious.
Compare that with the children of rich parents, living in a comfortable, well-built, house, safe from storm and tempest. Of course they might have a tyrant for a father and a mother on drugs (or vice versa) but their chances of growing up more confident and well-fed are greater, unworried by water welling up through the floorboards or down through the roof, and certainly not concerned by the house blowing away.
A comfortable home
That’s like your Mind, your personality, living in a comfortable place, which the Chinese suggest is your (Heart-) Blood: if someone haemorrhages blood seriously, you see them entering a state of shock as their personality ebbs away. So Mind and Personality have much in common.
Your Heart is said to be the Governor of the Blood, and the Blood is the Residence of the Mind.
Heart Blood derives from Blood. So if Blood is deficient, the Blood of the Heart will be too.
Bit of technical stuff: the reverse isn’t true. You could have Heart Blood deficiency without having Blood deficiency. Well – theoretically.
Blood provides nutrition and support for all the zang fu organs and all the tissues of the body. Because the Heart houses the Mind – and the Blood is where we have our consciousness – the Blood of the Heart is pre-eminent in controlling stability in our consciousness, personality and thinking.
Of course, if we allow ourselves to become emotionally upset, it will affect our personalities. This is because all emotions affect the Heart, the main ‘Energy’ directing our lives.
How badly and for how long being upset goes on for will depend on the health of your Heart Qi and its Blood.
If your Heart’s Blood is secure, then you are more likely to make mature and loving relationships. (You are also more likely to have a good sex drive and be able to deliver!)
An acupuncturist helping you achieve balance and health via your Heart Blood would almost certainly also look at the health of another Heart energy organ called your ‘Pericardium‘. Indeed he or she might prefer to treat you on that channel than on your Heart channel.
A young woman once visited me for acupuncture. After a few treatments she was feeling more confident and happier about herself. One day I took her pulses as usual and noticed a huge difference on her Pericardium pulse.
I told her about the change and said had she fallen in love, by any chance?
‘Yes, I most certainly have!’ she said. ‘How did you know?’
‘Because of your Pericardium pulse!’
It is the experience of acupuncturists that a good deal of counselling is really a way of reassuring people and teaching them to comfort themselves by helping them look at life differently: strengthening the Blood of the Heart does much the same thing.
Dare I say it, that people might profitably try acupuncture to strengthen their Heart Blood first?!
Were those individuals to permit treatment to strengthen their Heart’s Qi and Blood, they might find themselves less susceptible to life’s vicissitudes, its ups and downs, its often unwelcome surprises.
However, one should also remember that much of Chinese medicine embeds in the experience and teachings of Daoism. This showed people how to cultivate a steady outlook and how to adapt smoothly to nature and life.
Daoism led people to meditation, Tai Qi and so on. These gave practical ways to survive mentally and emotionally. Many of these practices support or strengthen Blood of the Heart in one way or another.
Learning how to calm and concentrate the Mind depends on your circumstances, personality and education.
Tai Qi, Yoga (and one might say even Pilates nowadays) are based on ancient systems of physical and mental culture. Meditation is really a mental discipline that can be learned, even by children. For children it can become a huge benefit throughout their lives; almost a grace.
However, all these ancient and modern methods for physical and mental health need regular practice: no use just reading how to do it!
Problems that arise
Blood of the Heart has two specific syndromes, both important.
Heart Blood problems are often worsened by Qi Stagnation
Qi Stagnation occurs in almost every sphere of life. It causes untold problems. If you are reading this I guarantee that you have suffered from it. For anyone suffering from Heart Blood problems, Qi stagnation is another nail in the coffin!
Read much more about Qi Stagnation in my book – see below or in the panel on the right.