It is so true when they say ‘wake up and smell the roses’. We often meet people who are unobservant and unable to see beauty. Even when it’s right in front of them. People who will join friends for a walk and spend the entire time talking, oblivious to their surroundings. People incapeable of observing a bird on the wing or the ripple of a wave. We all know at least someone like that. Someone bored with the world, who feels despondant, and worries obsessively about everything that life throws at them.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, we always talk about the Five Spirits associated with the human body. The Yi spirit is the one attached to the Spleen organ. This particular spirit gives us the capacity to sympathise, critisise, reflect and be creative. Also, the ability to think clearly, to concentrate and to memorise. All experiences are digested and processed when the Yi is balanced, and we can make sense of the world. The Yi helps us to become inspired and develop ideas . Information is processed and acted upon . We can empathise when the Yi is functioning properly.
Worry and anxiety impedes this process, and, as a consequence, can have a negative impact on the Yi. Thoughts become muddled, the house becomes untidy and there are bits of paper everywhere. Concentration becomes difficult and memory is affected. Constant worry and anxiety can be related to a constitutional weakness , or can be directly related to continual stress and lack of support. When the positive energies of the Yi are blocked, a person can remain stuck in repetitive thought patterns. Brooding over every problem that presents itself.
This is where Mindfulness is a useful tool. It shouldn’t be regarded as chore, but more of an aid to help us out of the quagmire. Meditation is one option, but it’s not for everyone. However, it is possible to mediate simply by just being quiet. By holding and looking at a small stone, or maybe a flower and focusing on its petals. Really focusing. Or, sitting quietly in a chair, slowly breathing in and out, aware of the breath , for about five – 10 minutes . It doesn’t have to be complicated. A walk on the beach or in a park, any walk will do. The principle is to focus on something else, whether in stillness or slow motion. There are meditation methods which can be learned of course, t’ai chi, qi gong, t’ai chi walking , yoga, mindfulness . Through calmness and stillness, we can let go of the harmful thought processes and feelings that hold us down.
The same principle applies to food. Eating mindfully helps to keep the Yi balanced and nourished. By chewing slowly. Resisting the temptation to gulp food down, in turn prevents the digestive system from being challenged and having a knock on affect on the Yi. Eating and reading, eating and watching television at the same time, breakfast on the run, are all contrary to the principles of Chinese Medicine. It’s important to break this habit. Yi holds the middle ground. It holds our centre, it keeps us grounded; helps us to digest the experiences of life in a balanced way; helps us march to the beat of our own drum , sing our own song and be our best creative selves.