Feeling Overwhelmed on Travel

Bring yourself back into harmony with the Chinese art of self-healing, Yang Sheng, says Katie Brindle .

hink back to the last time you had a strong emotion such as joy or sadness. Where did you feel it in your body? People often describe bad shock as ‘a punch to the gut’ or grief as ‘a weight on the chest’. Conversely, the state of your body affects your emotions; when you’re ill, it’s hard to feel positive.

Chinese medicine has always rooted the emotional state firmly in the body. Every emotion we experience is looked after by a specific organ. So depression, for example, is described as an imbalance of the organs, almost always involving the liver. Having a specific physical location for emotions means you have a place where you can start healing yourself, processing emotions and transforming how you feel.

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The Chinese belief is this: own your emotions and you master your health. Life will bring all kinds of emotional reactions but you don’t want to let one of them take over, because this is not balance. Being too emotional is considered a waste of valuable qi (lifeforce) and has a detrimental effect on your organs. It’s why the ancient Taoist masters were very big on contentment and quiet living to achieve a long and peaceful life. Being in a balanced emotional state results in free-flowing qi that will do more to support your wellbeing than any green juice. The answer is to accept whatever emotion needs to come out as a natural part of life. Expressing it in a controlled way means you won’t become overwhelmed.


You don’t need to completely change your life to find balance. Instead, you can adapt your daily routine with small changes using a Chinese self-healing system called Yang Sheng (‘nourish life’) which offers simple, daily self-care techniques designed to improve health and bring you into a state of calm contentment. You can do these exercises whenever you have a spare minute: in the car or when you’re brushing your teeth. Once you make them a habit, they’ll come naturally. Firstly, you need to learn how to own the emotion. Recognise your emotion and name it; for example ‘I’m feeling anxious’. Own that it’s OK to feel like this.


Then shift the energy of your emotion. You can do this with laughter, singing and dancing, but you can also try the following techniques. If you’re experiencing the emotion often, practise shifting it every day. Be aware the emotion will trip you up a few times before you process it fully.


This is one of the oldest forms of breath therapy. The idea is that specific sounds correspond to the vibrations of each organ (see below). If your master organs are happy and healthy, you’ll stay in balance. As you breathe a long breath out, make the sound, directing it at the organ related to the emotion you’re feeling. Visualise the organ or area as you breathe, send it happy vibes and imagine stale energy coming out of it. Repeat five times. Lungs (Grief) – Ssssssss Kidneys (Fear) – Chooooo Liver (Anger) – Shhhhhhhh Heart (Joy/anxiety) – Haaaaaaa Stomach (Worry) – Whoooo.


Start seated, lying down or standing. Breathe in, then, as you gently exhale, send an inner smile to the organ housing the emotion in question (as above). Do three full rounds of breath, imagining the organ being filled with warmth and happiness.


Tap your body in the area of the relevant organ with a loose fist. Do it with vigour to invigorate, gently to relax. Tapping on points along the meridian channels is said to restore a good flow of qi. For example, for grief or sadness (lungs and heart), tap across your chest and up and down your arms, to follow the heart and lung meridians.

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