Your Liver-Soul Connection – Liver Function and Health
A Holistic View of Liver Function and Health from a Classical Chinese Medicine Perspective
Your Liver Function and Health
Many of you know how important it is to keep your Liver in good physical shape. You may have reduced or given up alcohol and started exercising more frequently. Perhaps you even do regular liver cleanses of apple and carrot juices, and perhaps a Liver Flush too.
But have you ever given some much needed care and attention to the emotional and spiritual aspects of your Liver? What does that even mean?
The traditional approach of Classical Chinese Medicine has an answer. It is rooted in deeply holistic and integrated philosophies of life and healing and teaches us the significance and importance of a healthy Liver, on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.
The Liver According to Classical Chinese Medicine
Classical Chinese Medicine has many philosophic and diagnostic frameworks to assess the general health and wellbeing of an individual. From these, it illuminates a healing pathway of integrated and holistic therapies and remedies to affect healing of specific ailments and disharmonies.
These diagnostic frameworks and treatment strategies have been developed from over 5,000 years of intimate observation of the natural order and cycles of life. They acknowledge that we, as human beings, are intimately connected to the natural cycles, environments and patterns in which we live.
One of the most well-known of these life philosophies and healing systems is the 5 Phases, also called 5 Elements. It organizes the phenomenon of the world into 5 basic elemental phases, or groups, of nature; WOOD, FIRE, EARTH, METAL, and WATER.
These 5 phases of being and the relationships which exist between them through the flow of Qi (life force), form a fluid and dynamic system from which to understand the world and everything within it, including your health. A diagram of the 5 phases, and the 2 patterns of relationship between them are shown in the diagram below.
The Liver in Classical Chinese Medicine
Belonging to the Wood Element, your Liver is described as a ‘General’, organizing and regulating the functions of your other organs and tissues within your body (the ‘troops’). Looking beyond just the physical functions of the Liver, Classical Chinese Medicine teaches us that your Liver is also responsible for your ability to make plans, to put your body and mind into action in order to carry out those plans, and to then call the troops back in to rest and re-energize once the plans are complete.
One way in which this manifests in your body, is through the action of smoothing and regulating the flow of Qi (energy) and Blood. When your Liver is healthy, your Qi and Blood flow smoothly, dispersing and circulating freely, easily, softly and gently. When there is imbalance in the Liver, the flow of Qi and Blood become irregular and stuck, creating Stagnation and a whole host of ailments including:
- poor digestion
- gynecological problems
- emotional ups and downs
- tender breasts
- abdominal distention
- lumps and tumors
- tightness in the chest
Symptoms can also appear at the Spiritual level, resulting in your life plans and goals being blocked, either from external sources which seem beyond your control, or from internal sources through a lack of motivation, organization or vision. When your plans and dreams are continually thwarted, over time you become increasingly frustrated, angry and eventually depressed.
Your Liver and Your Blood
Your Liver is also responsible for Storing Blood: When you are at rest, especially during night when you are ideally sleeping soundly, the Blood returns to your Liver where it is nourished and replenished in order to rejuvenate your energy (qi) for the following day. Often, when you wake up in the morning feeling groggy and un-refreshed, it is because your Liver has not been able to adequately carry out its functions of cleansing, detoxifying and re-energizing your Blood during the night.
When you are active, your Liver sends Blood to your muscles and tendons, giving them the nourishment and lubrication they need to perform their tasks. When you are stiff and heavy feeling in the joints and muscles, with a lack of ease in movement, it often signals that your Liver is unable to adequately perform balanced nourishment and regulation of Qi and Blood.
The intimate connection between the Liver and the Blood also means that healthy menstruation depends on having a healthy and balanced Liver. When Liver function is impaired, you can experience PMS, irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, clots, excessive or scanty flow, pain, bloating, sugar cravings and irregular bowel movements. Correct and proper storage of Blood, as well as its smooth flow and regulation, will lead to healthy menstruation, which means an absence of all of the above symptoms! Just because it’s ‘normal’ to have PMS these days, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary OR natural!
Viewing the Liver in this light gives you valuable information which allows you to see your own physical health in an entirely new way. But when you look at the emotional and spiritual aspects of your Liver, you will gain an even deeper understanding, not only of your Liver, but also of yourself, your life and the creative challenges you are facing.
Your Liver and Your Soul
Classical Chinese Medicine sees the Liver as housing your ‘Hun’, or Ethereal Soul. It recognizes two different aspects of the human Soul. The Physical Soul, ‘Po’, comes into being with your body at birth. It grows and develops with the body and dissolves again when the physical body dies. The Ethereal Soul, or ‘Hun’, descend from heaven to enter the physical body at birth and they return to heaven, or the Spiritual realms, when your body dies. Your Hun are that part of you which survives beyond death. They are seen as the individualized expression of Shen (Spirit, Source, Universal Spark). It is your Hun that make you who you are, who make you unique.
Your Hun are rooted and nourished by the Blood and Yin of the Liver and are most active at night, when you should be sleeping. They therefore determine, and are affected by, the quality of your sleep. If they are not adequately rooted, they can wander off, leading to insomnia, excessive dreaming, a feeling of floating, body twitches, or a vague sense of anxiousness or fear as you are falling asleep.
Your Liver and Your Emotions
Your Hun also balance and harmonize your emotions, which can be effectively described as the molecules of communication between your soul, your mind and your body. Classical Chinese Medicine teaches us that what emotion is experienced is not important in terms of health and wellness; what is important is that you allow whichever emotion that arises to flow and circulate freely.
Whenever you block or repress an emotional response, for whatever reason, you are injuring the healthy expression of your Hun (our Ethereal Soul) as well as the energy and health of your physical Liver (which is responsible, amongst MANY other things, to process those emotions). The affects may not be overly apparent immediately, but if this becomes a pattern, over time it will start to impact your physical and emotional health, as well as your ability to flow through life, achieving your goals with grace and joy.
Your Liver and Your Creative Inspiration
Your Hun are responsible for giving you visions and images, through inspiration, imagination, intuition, creativity, psychic abilities, speculation and dreams. They give you the ability to foresee and plan your life with a sense of direction and purpose. When Liver Blood is deficient, it is unable to nourish your Hun and you experience difficulties in finding your purpose and direction in life; you struggle to plan your life and envision what it is you want to do.
Your Liver and Your Relationships
Because your Hun are what makes you who you are as an individual, there is a link between the healthy expression of you Hun and your self-awareness. One way in which this manifests is as an ability to draw healthy boundaries between yourself and others. People who display chronic patterns of continually giving way to the wants and wishes of others regardless of the situation could be described as Wood Deficient. Likewise, those who are unable to compromise on their own agendas and ideas being rigid and fixed in their views and actions, would be described as Wood Excess.
The healthy expression of your Hun also determines your ability to hold a healthy respect for the boundaries of others. This gives you that inner sense of knowing how to balance the degree of intimacy and detachment which each of us needs to feel loved and supported whilst at the same time respected and acknowledged for the individual we are.
The degree to which your Hun is rooted and nourished will also determine whether you are able to conduct yourself appropriately in society, or whether you are socially awkward or simply unable to conduct yourself adequately in social settings.
When Your Liver and Soul Need Attention and Healing
Whenever your growth, achievements or plans are blocked, you can become angry, annoyed, impatient and irritable. You can feel resentment and frustration and may eventually become depressed. All of these emotions, experienced consistently over time, can signal that your Hun and your Liver need some attention. These emotions can also occur when you do not express your true self, feelings or needs.
When this happens, it is tempting to turn to stimulants – coffee, colas, sugars, chocolate, alcohol, smoking, drugs (either illegal or prescription) are the common ones. However, an excessively busy and active lifestyle can also serve this function to stimulate and enliven – when you find yourself continually ‘on-the-go’ with never a minute to rest. All of these stimulants appear to help you deal with the stress and feelings of non-fulfillment, and they can appear to keep you functioning in better ‘spirits’. In reality, they add an even greater burden to the Liver, thereby further disconnecting you from your Hun and your true self and feelings.
Stimulants can help us ‘fit the mold’ of society instead of allowing us to work towards healing the real issues at the core of the problem – suppressed emotions, lack of expression, not living your true life purpose and not listening to and following your intuition and inner voice. These are often the real issues creating many gynecological and Liver disorders, as well as many others such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and depression.
A Holistic Perspective of Your Liver
When you look at your Liver, and your whole body and being, from a more holistic vantage point, you gain a deeper understanding into who you are and how your physical health affects your life. You see how your lifestyle and life choices affect your physical health. It allows you to become better informed and more responsible; to become proactive and empowered to make positive changes to improve your health, relationships and life experiences.
Heal Your Liver and Engage Your Soul
If you feel like you may be experiencing some of the symptoms of Liver Stagnation and lack of flow in your life, then contact me to discuss what you can do to start creating greater flow, connection, creativity and vibrant health right now.
It all starts with the simple intention to be happy, healthy and true.
+353 (0)89 232 4860