The Heart In Harmony and Disease

The Fire Element rules the heart and small intestine. In Chinese healing tradition,the heart includes not only the organ itself but also the concept---shared by Western people ---of the heart as a mental/emotional center, reflected in our phrases: "Have a heart!", "Put you heart into it!", or "Learn by heart." Dean Ornish, M.D., heart specialist at the University of California at San Francisco, has developed from his experience a a similar awareness: "I think the mind is where heart disease begins for many people." The Romanized word for heart in China is xin, which is often translated as "heart-mind." Thus, according to the Chinese medical definition, the heart not only regulates blood circulation by also controls consciousness, spirit, sleep, memory, and houses the mind. In this way the heart, together with the liver, is related to the nervous system and brain. The advantage of using this expanded definition is that it accords with reality---the heart acupuncture meridian affects both the physical heart and the mind. It is well-known that emotions affect the actual functioning of the heart, seen in the speed and strength of the pulses. We will refer to the various aspects of this expanded "heart-mind" definition as appropriate.The heart in harmony: Those with healthy hearts are genuinely friendly. They are also humble, not out of convention but because they actually feel small in comparison to the wonders they perceive with their open hearts and aware minds. Clarity is a central attribute of those with a harmonious heart-mind. They seem to see effortlessly through problems to arrive at brilliant solutions.