The Heart is the Emperor, ruler, or monarch of the body.
“The Heart is like the Monarch and it governs the Shen” (Simple Questions)
“The Heart is the Monarch of the five Yin organs and six Yang organs and it is the residence of the Shen” (Spiritual Axis)
Functions of the Heart
Governs the Blood (xue) and Blood Vessels (xue mai)
The Heart governs the circulation of Blood.
Gu Qi is transformed into Blood in the Heart.
Mai indicates both ‘vessel’ and ‘pulse’. Am refers to both the system of vessels that carry blood throughout the body (xue mai) and the system of vessels that carry Qi (jing luo mai, literally ‘channel collateral vessels’)
Blood fills the vessels, and Qi propels blood through the vessels.
The Zong Qi aids the movement of the Heart in the heartbeat (as well as the Lung in respiration). This, in turn, assists in the movement of blood through the blood vessels.
The Heart rules and stores the Shen, and is the Shen’s residence. As such, the Heart is the root of consciousness (not the brain, as in Western thought).
The Heart must have enough Blood and enough Yin to properly store the Shen, and if deficient, Shen becomes disturbed.
As the Shen is the seat of consciousness, it is aware of all the mind-body’s emotions, including those related to the Hun, Po, Zhi, and Yi.
|Responsible for consciousness, thinking, affections, memory, and sleep.
|Responsible for sleep, plans, projects, life aims, and the ‘coming and going’ of Shen.
|Responsible for physiological activities, sensations, sight, hearing, smell, taste, ‘entering and exiting’ of Jing.
|Responsible for will-power, drive, and determination.
|Responsible for thinking, memory, concentration.
The major Heart-Mind functions of the Shen are mental activity including emotions, consciousness, memory, thinking, and sleep. These all rely on the health of the Heart and Heart-Blood (and Yin).
With harmonious Shen there is clear thoughts and mental activity, and calm and peaceful mind. With disturbed Shen, the mind is restless, there is insomnia and confused thinking, anxiety, panic, and poor memory.
Heart Yin, Heart Blood, Shen, and emotional harmony have very close inter-relationships, and are often seen to influence one another, either leading to increased balance, or increased disharmony.
Deficiency of the Heart can also affect a person’s general vitality, leading to sadness and depression.
HT7 and REN15 are important points to nourish the Heart and Heart-Blood.
Opens into the tongue and manifests in the complexion
The complexion reflects the state of the Heart and Blood. If both are abundant, the complexion is rosy and bright.
The tongue is a ‘mirror’ of the Heart, which is closely related to the tongue’s color, form, moisture, and motility.
If Heart Qi is deficient, the tongue may be pale and flabby.
If Heart Blood is deficient, the tongue may be pale, thin, and dry.
Stagnant Heart Blood will make the tongue purplish, while Heart Heat (Excess Fire) will make the tongue dry and red with soreness and ulcerations.
Heart disharmony commonly causes incessant talking or inappropriate laughter.
Phlegm and Heat disturbing the Shen can make the tongue difficult to move, leading to stuttering or speech disturbances.
Assists with regulation of menses
The Heart controls the downward movement of Qi and Blood that makes menstruation occur.
The Liver fills the uterus with Blood, but the Heart guides the discharge of blood from the uterus.
Controls the sweat
Sweat is one of the body’s normal Body Fluids, which shares a common origin with Blood.
Sweat comes from the Cou Li, the space between the skin and muscles.
Heart-Yang deficiency may cause spontaneous sweating.
Heart-Yin deficiency may cause night-sweats.
Excessive sweating, due to hot weather or excessive heat exposure, can cause Heart Yin or Yang deficiency.
Manifests in dreaming
When the Heart-Blood is strong, the Shen will rest soundly at night. If there is weakness of Heart-Blood, sleep can be restless or disturbed by excessive dreaming.
“When the Heart is weak, one dreams of fires; if the dream takes place in the summertime, one dreams of volcanic eruptions” (Simple Questions)
“When the Heart is in excess, one dreams of laughing…when the Heart is deficient, one dreams of mountains, fire, and smoke” (Spiritual Axis)