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Heal your emotions

Classical Chinese medicine practitioner Katie Brindle shares simple techniques from yang sheng – a practice that translates as ‘nurture life’ – the route to longevity and health

The Chinese belief is this: own your emotions and you master your health. It’s important to know that not only are you allowed to express the full remit of human emotion, it’s actually healthy to do so. Life will bring all kinds of emotional reactions – and that’s normal – but you don’t want to allow one of them to take over, because that is not balanced. Even a positive emotion, such as happiness, is regarded as just one of many emotions. And, rather than craving constant happiness, you should aspire to feel an even, quiet contentment.

Being too emotional is considered both a waste of valuable qi (life force) and to have a detrimental efect on your organs. This sounds extreme, but it’s why the ancient Taoist masters promoted contentment and quiet living to achieve a long and peaceful life. They referred to living calmly, between the extremes of emotion, as the ‘golden mean’, or balance. This can be tricky for us to achieve in the West, where we are all about strong reactions and emotions, as long as they are positive. We are thrill seekers, rollercoaster riders, euphoric high chasers. We romanticise the idea of falling deeply in love. All this takes us, culturally, pretty far away from the quiet life suggested by the Taoists. Let’s face it, moderation is a lot less sexy than being intense. So, how can we find that golden mean? The answer is to accept whatever emotion needs to come out as a natural part of life. Expressing it in a controlled way means you won’t become overwhelmed.

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