Over the weekend the strong winds of storm Gareth toppled a relatively young tree in my garden. But youth didn’t do it any good; on closer inspection the trunk was rotten, so one big gust and it was a goner. Unfortunately I was too late to help the tree, but I have been able to help many people in the Acupuncture clinic presenting with anger related issues.
The Wood, the Wind and Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine the Wind is the climatic condition associated with the Spring. It whips everything up and clears away the stagnation from the Winter months, making way for the fresh and new.
Similarly, Wood is the element of Spring. So remember what I touched on last week? A healthy wood needs to be supple and flexible, able to bend and yield to the Wind. Just like the tree in my garden, if we lack flexibility we are more likely to snap under pressure. That is what anger can do; it can make us rigid and irrational and unable to see clearly.
Anger is not a bad emotion
Anger can be a powerful, positive force, but only if it is expressed appropriately and in the right direction. It can be insidious and all consuming, and often it is so prevalent we don’t even realise we are angry! The pressures of modern living certainly give us all plenty of reason to be angry. But prolonged anger, just like all unfettered emotions, will eventually have a negative effect on our health. In Chinese Medicine it is the Liver that is particularly associated with Anger, but given time it won’t be long before all the body’s organs are affected.
The Dalai Lama explains it very well:
I think that anger and hatred actually cause more harm to us than to the person responsible for our problem. Imagine that your neighbour hates you and is always creating problems for you. If you lose your temper and develop hatred toward him, your digestion is harmed, your sound sleep goes, and you have to start to use tranquillisers and sleeping pills. You then have to increase the dosages of these, which harms your body. Your mood is affected; as a result, your old friends hesitate to visit you. You gradually get more white hair and winkles, and you may eventually develop more serious health problems. Then your neighbour is really happy.
So what can help with Anger?
Anger will affect the free-flow of Qi in the body. It will first affect the Mind: before you know it you are getting angry in the car, angry queuing up in the supermarket, or yelling at the TV! And then, over time it will start to affect the body: if the free flow of Qi is impaired then the result can be stiff neck, headache or migraine, insomnia, constipation, or any number of autoimmune diseases.
Anger needs to be expressed, but as you know from my earlier post ‘Is Spring finally here?‘, not all expressions of anger are appropriate. So what is an appropriate expression of anger? Well sport and exercise can be good outlets, but simply hitting a punch bag or pounding the pavement will only take you so far. It may feel good at the time but it won’t deal with the cause.
The Dalai Lama goes on to say that all the things that stirred up your anger can go away with a peaceful mind. Well, Mind in Chinese Medicine is just another expression of Qi, so directing the Mind through meditation (which includes Qi Gong and Tai Chi) can help the Qi flow more smoothly. Martial Arts such as Wing Chun can also help. But when dealing with the long term effects of anger, such as migraine, you may need the help of Acupuncture and Tui na.