The word Shen is most simply translated as spirit. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shen is considered the most subtle of the body’s vital substances. The concept of Shen refers to the totality of the emotional and spiritual life of a person. It is said that the Shen of every person resides in the Heart and its functions include mental activity, consciousness, memory, thinking, and sleep.
In TCM, body and spirit are seen as having a symbiotic relationship. “The body depends on the spirit to stand, but the spirit requires the body to exist.” (Xi Kang, Daoist philosopher). Body and spirit are two poles of the same substance with a two-way interaction between them. The state of the spirit, and/or the mind, can affect the health of the body; likewise, disturbances in the body can upset the spirit. Therefore, by treating the body we can affect spirit; and by addressing spirit, we can harmonize the physical body.
The Heart, housing the Shen, is seen as the “emperor” of all the other organs and is called the “root of life”. From the TCM classic Huang Di Nei Jing, “The Heart is the root of life and the origin of mental life”. Therefore, the Shen, via the Heart, is at the root of all we think, feel, and do. Isn’t it vital, then, that we nourish and support ourselves at this level?
The ancient Indian spiritual text known as The Upanishads describes the idea of spirit similarly. “The Self, pure awareness, shines as the light within the heart, surrounded by the senses.” (Brihadaranyaka, IV.7). It goes on further to explain how spirit, or Self, is at the root of our lives. “As a person acts, so he becomes in life … You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 4.5)
The written Chinese language is composed of characters rather than letters. Each character is a pictorial representation of the meaning of the word itself. “The Chinese character for Shen conveys two ideas: ‘spiritual manifestation’ and ‘extension’. It is therefore a pure and vital substance that ‘extends’ outwards towards others and mediates the relationship between the individual and other people.” (Maciocia)
As a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.), I have studied and practiced the theories and ancient healing techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is my goal to treat each individual at the root level, which means understanding the person as a whole – body, mind, and spirit. If we truly wish to live fulfilling and genuine lives, we must not ignore any of these 3 important aspects of our Selves.
In a more general sense, the goal in TCM is always to target and treat the root of dis-ease. The symptoms that we experience are manifestations of a deeper imbalance. Just as a tree has many branches of varying size and shape, which extend from its trunk yet rise from the same root system, we humans can experience a number of seemingly unrelated symptoms (branches) that actually share a common root. By addressing the root, many branches (symptoms) can be affected simultaneously. Nourishing the root system will nourish the entire tree.
Our bodies have the innate ability to heal yet require ongoing maintenance and outside support. Acupuncture and its adjunct therapies are tools that can be used to help revive our natural healing functions and promote body-mind-spirit well-being. I am passionate about the work I do and am confident that TCM can help return you to a state of optimal health. It would be an honor and a pleasure for me to assist you on this all-important journey.