In regimen, it is asserted that man's mind-set has an incalculable effect on the whole body. Thus, the experts in health preservation in ancient times emphasized the importance of the regulation of heart, spirit, nature, virtue, mind and sentiment, and tried to avoid emotional disturbance. Good mental status, conscious activities and stable emotion are beneficial to the health of the body. They are the best ways to prevent disorder of qi movement, imbalance of yin and yang, and attack of disease.
Cultivating the Temperament and the Mind
1. Cultivating the Mind with Quietness Cultivating the mind with quietness refers to a mental state that is peaceful, relaxed, having fewer desires and pure, reflecting the thought of health preservation with a quiet mind in ancient China. Health preservation in TCM holds that essence, qi and spirit are three treasures of human body. It is better for the spirit to be quiet, without absurdness, overuse and disorder. Excessive distracting thoughts would dissipate mind; excessive meditation would damage spirit; excessive desires would deceive consciousness; excessive affairs would cause physical fatigue; excessive talks would cause shortness of breath and mental fatigue; excessive jokes would damage the five-zang organs; excessive grief would cause fear; excessive happiness would cause conceited emotion; excessive joy would cause forgetfulness; excessive anger would cause dilation of blood vessels; excessive hobbies would cause indulgence; excessive aversions would cause confusion and depression.
2. Nature and Virtue Cultivation Health preservation and virtue emphasize the essential points of cultivation of character and health. To protect and maintain life needs to build character in order to reach the state of quietness and cheer. Through nature and virtue cultivation, greediness and sentiment should be controlled to achieve the mental peace, smooth flow of qi and blood, physical and mental health and longer life. Many scholars in ancient China have noticed the close relationship among virtue, man's psychological state and life span. First, good cultivation of virtue can maintain the balance of yin and yang of the zang-fu organs. Second, good moral cultivation helps to keep broad-minded and optimistic mental state. People with noble virtue are promising, active, positive, refined exteriorly and quiet interiorly and strict with themselves. Their mental states are likely to stimulate their inherence, increase the level of heart-spirit and enhance life vitality and the autoregulation of vital process. Virtue corresponding with nature makes man's internal world more comprehensive, quiet and open, and interpersonal relationship more harmonious. The state of being cheerful without any depression inside can reinforce the body's immunity.
3. Mind Cultivation In the regimen in TCM, "keeping the mind in the interior" is the base of disease prevention and treatment as well as the core of mind cultivation. It mainly refers to self-control and regulation of man's consciousness, thoughts and mental state in order to keep the harmony between human body and environment. From the angle of mind cultivation, restraints must be laid on the following points:
- Restraint of excessive desire for wealth.
- Restraints of the excessive pursuit of fame and benefits.
- Restraints of excessive sexuality: Preserving essence and protecting kidney is one of the important principles in preventing disease and delay the ageing process. People in ancient times emphasized "cherishing essence to cultivate health". Indulgence in sex, a kind of morbid mentality, is harmful to the root base of life, leading to various consequences, such as dispiritedness, impairment of recognition capability, therefore, it should be avoided.
- Removal of jealousy.
To be Open and Broad-Minded
To be open and broad-minded refers to a good state reflected through large-heartedness, good tolerance, and other psychological activities. It can promote the health of human body. A broad-minded person can better regulate his emotion; just as the saying goes "Joy makes it easier to forget worries". Normal sentiments, smooth flow of qi and blood, which enhance the nourishment to heart-spirit, are good to health.
Following the Routine and Enjoying Customs
If one wants to keep a psychological balance and stability with a good mood, he should set up a stern belief and cultivate optimistic temperament first. Only when he is calm before incidents and fearless before danger, can he conquer all kinds of difficulties and finally win. A person without personal desire has nothing to fear, so he can be unperturbedly, broad-minded, optimistic and grinning all the time.
4. Seasonal Regulation of Mental Activity
- Spring is a season in which nature brings the new to the world. Man's emotions, feelings and sentiments are more active. During this season, all things are thriving and full of vitality. So man should be delighted in spring to adjust his emotions to the law of "sprouting in spring".
- Summer is a season in which the celestial qi and the terrestrial qi meet with each other. All plants are in blossom. During such a season, man is liable to feel mentally tired, so they should keep delighted to disperse internal yang qi to adjust his emotions to the law of "growth in summer".
- When autumn begins, yin qi increasingly becomes predominant while yang qi declines. The weather turns cold from hot and all things get mature in the westerly to form a peaceful state with stable appearance. Qi and spirit of human body are kept inside and their mental power is quiet. At this time, man should adapt his emotion to the law in autumn in order to avoid the aberration of yang qi and the damage caused by the brumal pathogenic factor in autumn.
- In winter, yang qi is incubated while yin qi is exuberant. The earth is covered with snow and ice, which shows an eyeful of coldness due to yin predominance. t this time, it is better to keep mental power and spirit inside, just like keeping privacy from others or feeling happy for having acquired something, to be corresponding to the law of "storing in winter".
Regulation of Unhealthy Emotions
1. Restraining: Restraining is a method to prevent drastic seven emotions through regulating feelings and controlling sentiment to achieve psychological balance.
2. The Method of Venting: The method of venting means to give vent to accumulated depression, sullenness, unhappiness, and other indescribable hidden feelings or bad moods in order to relieve the qi stagnation and accumulation of anxiety and anger in the heart.
- The Method of Direct Venting: When misfortune befalls someone and he feels sorrowful, a vehement crying and the burst of tears will make him feel comfortable. Crying, and external manifestation of pain is a psychologically protective mechanism. Crying is the best way to vent.
- The Method of Indirect Venting: People may frequently encounter dissatisfactory events, frustrations or misfortune in their work or study. When the anger rises or the anxiety appears, people should at first calm down and control their emotions. They may also try to converse with their bosom friends or relatives or they may give vent to their depression by shouting in an open area, by which the movement of qi is smoothed and the anxiety dissipated. Therefore, establishing good interpersonal relationships with others, making friends extensively, mutual respect and help among friends are all effective ways of relieving worry, dissipating anxiety and overcoming unhealthy emotions.
3. The Method of Persuasion
The method of persuasion means by using correct and wise words to persuade, explain to, encourage, console, enlighten and lead the patient. With persuasion and reasoning, people's burdened mentality will be relieved, confidence boosted, mental and physical condition improved.
4. The Method of Transferring
Transferring emotion refers to the change of concentration or the shift of attention from one thing to another. Changing emotion means to remove or change wrong ideas, unhealthy emotions and life habits and appropriately give vent to unhealthy emotions in order to regain peace in mind. The method of transferring is also known as the treatment of gladdening, which can be divided into two kinds according to broad and narrow senses. In a broad sense, it refers to the method which can gladden the patient. For instance, the treatment of music. The unique artistic conception of music signifies its abundant sentiment. Like herbs, music has meridian tropism. There are many methods of transferring like enjoying music, drama, dance, calligraphy, poetry; making friends, travelling; planting flowers and going fishing; playing musical instrument and chess. These activities which are of high taste and well-balanced in motion can cultivate the mind and nourish the spirit. "When people feel happy, they laugh and the laughter brings joy which makes them want to sing, clap their hands and dance."
5. The Treatment of Inter-Restriction among Emotions
This treatment is based on the theory of inter-restriction among the five elements. In TCM, the normal emotions can be related to the five zang-organs: joy corresponds to the heart and fire; anger corresponds to the liver and wood; anxiety is corresponded to the spleen and earth; sadness (worry) is corresponded to the lung and metal; fear is corresponded to the kidney and water. The theory and treatment of inter-restriction among emotions are established on the grounds of the rules of inter-restriction among the five elements.
- The Treatment of Joy Restricting Sadness (Worry): The Treatment of joy restricting sadness refers to the method of fire restricting metal, which means by using humorous and amusing words or exciting words in order to cheer the patient up, restricting his excessive sad emotion and curing the related diseases. There are two commonly practiced methods: first, by joking with the patient or unserious talking in order to make him happy and eliminate the diseases caused by excessive sadness and worry; second, if the patient feels unhappy because of his long-unfulfilled demand, his demand should be satisfied to relieve his bad mood for his rehabilitation
. - The Treatment of Sadness Restricting Anger: The treatment of sadness restricting anger refers to the method of metal restricting wood, which means by language or other methods to make the patient sad in order to restrict his excessive anger and eliminate those related diseases. In clinical practice, doctor can create different settings and try to sadden the patient by grieving and touching words, arousing his sorrowful emotion; or doctor can terrify the patient with threatening words, making him terrified and the terror may turn into sadness which disperses and consumes the depressed qi in the chest due to anger.
- The Treatment of Anger Restricting Anxiety: The treatment of anger restricting anxiety refers to the method of wood restricting earth which means by different methods to make the patient angry in order to restrict his excessive anxiety and eliminate those related diseases. This treatment is not advisable for cases with hyperactivity of liver-yang or susceptibility to the rise of liver-fire and excessive fire in the heart meridian.
- The Treatment of Anxiety Restricting Fear: The treatment of anxiety restricting fear refers to the method of earth restricting water, which means by making the patient think and anxious in order to restrict his excessive fear and eliminate those related diseases. Considering the patient's characteristics, doctor can use guiding and enlightening words to persuade the patient to think and understand the real situation of what he fears. Thus, the fear may be eliminated and the patient may feel relaxed and pleasant, his disease gradually cured.
- The Treatment of Fear Restricting Joy: The treatment of fear restricting joy refers to the method of water restricting fire, which means by different methods to terrify the patient in order to restrict his excessive joy and eliminate those related diseases. In ancient times, TCM practitioner terrified the patient with impending death or other methods to make the patient fearful and the symptom of "loss of spirit" may be dissipated in fear. It is noticeable that fright and fear are different. Fear is expectable while fright is unexpectable. Fright may affect heart, impair liver and gallbladder, cause disturbance of qi of heart and gallbladder, which results in mental disturbance or affects the fetus inducing congenital epilepsy. The impairment of liver by anger can be cured by fear or relieved by anger. The impairment of spleen by anxiety can be cured by anger or relieved by joy. The impairment of lung by worry can be cured by joy or relieved by anxiety. The impairment of kidney by fear can be cured by anxiety or relieved by worry. In conclusion, the methods practiced by ancient practitioner can just be referred to rather than being indiscriminately imitated. We should absorb the essence of these methods and practice them properly in order to avoid unnecessary impairment.