The Roots of Healthy Relationships

By Sarah Petty L. Ac., Dipl. Ac. on June 13th, 2012

Last night, I attended a wonderful class called: Cancer: Using Nutrition as a Healing Modality. I will definitely share my knowledge with you all, but I will wait till the following week, for the final class.

Summer is here and what are some gifts of summer??

Summer belongs to the Fire Element. The Fire Element is about love, intimacy, relationships, trust, joy, sadness, betrayal, running hot and cold, laughter, sharing, shyness, maturity, popularity, networking and anything else that describes the experience of human interaction. It is also about our relationship to ourselves. I think it is human to yearn for connection. I suppose I can not speak for everyone, but it seems everyone I have come in contact with enjoys connecting with another, and for many, they don’t get enough. Healthy Fire starts with a healthy relationship with yourself. Can you make yourself laugh? Can you make yourself feel special? Can you trust and be honest with yourself? Do you love yourself unconditionally? Are you present to yourself?

The chinese see the body as a kingdom. The Heart is the emperor/empress that sits on his/her thrown, radiating the light and warmth of the human spirit, that divine spark, in order to keep peace in the kingdom so all other officials (organs and body systems) can fulfill their roles at their optimum level. Each official has a specific expression and role to play in the body. It is important to know that the officials are expressions of Qi and do not always reflect the state of the physical organ. Only when certain disturbances become constant patterns, do they start to impact the physical body. In other words, do not be alarmed if disharmonies in one or more of these officials resonate with you. It does not conclude that there is something wrong with that particular organ in your body.

The officials of Fire are Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium (the protective fluid-filled sac that surrounds the heart) and the San Jiao (also translated as the Three Burning Spaces; see diagram). The Heart and Small Intestine are about the relationship to the self-listening to your Heart. The Pericardium and San Jiao are about your relationship to the world. In this article, I will go into detail, the roles of each Fire official and how this shows up in an individual.

1. Heart

The Heart is number one. The Heart is the emperor/empress whose sole purpose is to house the shen (our spark, our inner light, our radiance of the spirit), sit on the thrown, and radiate the eternal flame of the spirit out to the rest of the kingdom to bring calm and confidence to all other officials. Someone with a perfectly good working Heart official exudes an unwavering calm, a lightness of being, and people smile around him/her. I am thinking of the Dali Lama. The Heart beats regularly, not skipping a beat. Each time the Heart beats it is saying, I’m here, I’m here, I’m here. Someone with a strong and steady heart has a strong presence. This person has perfect comedic timing. Their humor is appropriate, easy to laugh with and never hurtful because the Heart’s expression is clear and unobstructed.

Out of balance, the Heart can become tyrannical, trying to control everything and everyone. The Heart is not settled. The person may experience life as chaos and be prone to anxiety and overwhelm. If pushed too far, the person may become manic and out of control.

2. Small Intestine

The Small Intestine is known as the Heart’s right hand man. The small intestine in the body is in charge of sorting the pure from the impure substances from food, deciding what gets absorbed as nourishment and what gets sent down to the colon as waste. The Small Intestine official sorts for the Heart. A Healthy Small Intestine shows up as a person who makes good decisions that align with their Heart’s desires. They are discerning in all things. You can always trust what they say is true because they are clear about their feelings and desires.

Out of balance, the Small Intestine has poor judgement when it comes to matters of the Heart. Often times, one’s humor becomes hurtful without the joker even knowing it. They don’t check in with themselves (their Heart) before saying something. They may choose people or situations that do not nourish their Heart. They may feel bombarded by details and information, becoming increasingly more confused. Their speech may be jumbled and confusing to their listeners, as it reflects the lack of clarity in their inner world. They may become too judgmental and cynical. Cynicism is incredibly damaging to the Heart. Cynicism isolates people, and isolation breads sorrow and longing in a person’s Heart. One’s Heart can also fall prey to cynicism.

3. Pericardium

The Pericardium is also nicknamed the “Heart Protector”. The pericardium in the body is a protective sac that surrounds the heart. The official has been described as the drawbridge to the kingdom.¬†The Pericardium is our protector against things that may be harmful to the Heart. As said before, the Pericardium and San Jiao are officials that have to do with relating to the outside world. So the Pericardium is the door that opens and closes to the outside world. Someone with a healthy Pericardium is comfortable in social situations, knowing when they can relax and let their guard down. This person chooses wisely the people comprised of their inner circle. They have intimate relationships and feel safe in all relationships, knowing they can trust those around them because they have healthy boundaries that keep them from being in situations that would harm them.

Out of balance, the Pericardium can over-protect. They can become painfully shy, not letting anyone in because they believe intimacy is not safe. They can be awkward in social situations, not being present-instead thinking, “What does this person think of me? Do they like me? Are they judging me?”¬†They are uncomfortable in their own skin. They do not feel free to express their love to others for fear of rejection and judgement. They can create walls, and shut people out, in attempts to shut out any potential threat. A lot of times, the Heart Protector will close after heart ache. Old wounds are then trapped inside the Heart and new love has no place to enter. On the other hand, Pericardium out of balance can show as the person who wears his/her heart on his/her sleeve. This person’s gate is wide open all the time, welcome good and harmful experiences.

4. San Jiao

The San Jiao, or Three Burning Spaces, act as the body’s thermostat. The diagram is to show the three space’s delineations, to give you an idea of the location of each Jiao (space). There are different ideal conditions for each space, for instance, the space that houses the Lungs, Heart and Pericardium (upper jiao) will need a different environment than that of the Stomach, Spleen, Liver and Gallbladder (middle jiao). The San Jiao touches and effects almost all of the vital organs in the body, making it an important communicator between organs and body systems. A San Jiao in health is someone who is a social butterfly. These people’s strength is in networking. They have a keen sense for who needs to know who and they delight in making those interactions happen. They are the person at the part who is making sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time. They are also balanced. They have a healthy social life, but they have no problem switching into a more intimate role with someone when appropriate.

Out of balance, the San Jiao may run hot and cold emotionally. They can also be the hostess of the party that at the end of the night, no one recalls ever interacting with them. They keep human interactions at a superficial level. San Jiao is the guy with tons of friends, but when he feels vulnerable, and wants to reach out, there is no one he feel he can call.

So, I know that was a long read. I hope some of you stuck it out to the end and learned some insights into your own Fire or perhaps, someone else’s you know. Questions to check in with each official: Heart: Am I being true to myself? Small Intestine: Are my choices in line with my deepest desires? Pericardium: Am I expressing my love for others? San Jiao: Am I balancing my social life with my personal life?

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s article. Till next time, be well!

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