The physiology of emotions

Emotions are intense. Our moments and days can be completely altered purely by mood, for better or for worse. On the bright side, the landscape of emotion is colourful, dynamic, ever-changing and intriguing. Like a voyage across the ocean, we will all inevitably know what it is to be tossed about and feel utterly lost at sea as life deals its blows, sorrows and challenges to us. And yet we will also hopefully make our way to calmer waters with gentle incoming tides of contentment, fulfillment and happiness. 

In part, life is the art of riding these waves as graciously as we can, somehow finding a way to ‘be in the world’ and fully participating with good heart and soul, but also not ‘completely of it’ either, and able to keep a sense of centred-ness, no matter what the events and dramas of the day. 

As the world gets increasingly unpredictable, this can feel easier said than done. As we collectively limp from one world crisis to another, barely pausing for breath before facing into the next round of threats, while the rising cost of living escalates with G-force speed, remembering to smile and take joy in simple pleasures can feel a distant and absurd dream. 

While our emotional life can overwhelm us, and the thought processes that fuel our emotions seem so believable and compelling, it’s perhaps worth bearing in mind that both thoughts and emotions can be fickle creatures and are totally susceptible to and responsive to the machinations of our endocrine system and the internal pharmacy of our biochemistry. We are literally like a walking drug store, with uppers and downers of hormones and neuropeptides that are dispensed, swiftly on the spot in response to our environment, both externally and the internal environment we create with our thoughts, beliefs, expectations, fears, anxieties, triumphs and feelings.

Chinese Medicine understands our entire human nature and physiology to be matter at different levels of frequency and wave form, much like quantum physics now corroborates. In other words, the Liver organ for instance, is dense energy wave manifesting in physical form, whereas the emotional spectrum that arises from both a healthy or an unhealthy Liver state is matter resonating at a much finer, more subtle frequency with no physical form as such, but nevertheless corresponding to the Liver specific energy wave. As such, matter (body) and non-matter (mind/emotions) are two sides of the same coin. We can approach treatment from either side of the coin, improving mental and emotional life to positively effect physical health but equally, we can improve physiological harmony to positively effect our mental and emotional experience. 

I have had clients come in chronic grief states, or with debilitating anxiety, or entrenched in depression or struggling to reconcile a traumatic history. All such emotional states impact our physiology, setting off a domino effect of biochemical responses, disrupting the corresponding organ systems and depleting or stagnating our Blood, Qi and Body Fluids in various ways. And while there are always understandable and legitimate reasons for why we feel what we feel, it is nevertheless also true that we can ease this suffering by treating the impact at the level of our physiology. It is always so moving to see how treatment with acupuncture and Chinese herbs can make such a positive difference. Like watching the morning mist slowly evaporate and a sunny day emerge from underneath the dense cloud cover of heavy emotion, I watch people over the course of treatment slowly but surely come back to themselves and come back to life. 

If you are finding that your quality of life is being undermined by difficult emotional states, please seek help. It may need a combination of therapies to help untangle the knot, but a tailored treatment plan that addresses your situation at the levels of both mind and body will lead to a much more effective resolution. 

Phone: 086 127 3148

Freya Sherlock

Freya Sherlock is a professional Chinese Medicine practitioner offering Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Chinese Herbal Medicine prescriptions and Tui Na Remedial Bodywork at her private clinic in Dunmanway. She offers a general practice with additional specialisms in women’s health and digestive disorders. Freya is also Ireland’s premier WildFit Coach.

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