Anxiety and fear according to acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Let’s get deeper into water, and specifically, kidneys. Let’s recap a little bit about what we know about water and how it relates to anxiety. We know that it is related to the kidneys and the urinary bladder. The kidneys being the yin organ, the urinary bladder being the yang organ, and we’ll talk about that a little bit more in depth in a second.
We know that the emotion associated with the kidneys and with the water element in general is fear. It’s also very thematic when it comes to safety, security instincts and then some of the behaviors that come out around that are going to be around risk assessment. The virtue associated with water is wisdom. We can think about wisdom as trusting life in the face of fear, and when we trust we’re able to hold the complexity of being with the fear and acting out whatever is inflow for us.
So, let’s talk about the yin yang real quick here. We could go on for hours about this but I’m going to just do a really simplistic description of this. The symbol of yin yang is the symbol of harmony and balance, and anyone who grew up in the 80s probably knows that. So, up here, the black part is considered yin. Things that are more yin in nature have the quality of being more cooling, more contracting, there is more of a downward motion with yin. Yin therefore represents a lot of our physical body, like the actually flesh and bones, again, those more dense structures compared to the yang, which is the white part down here, which is more personality, animation, spirit. It’s the yang energy, of course in balance with the yin energy to an extent, that is going to make all the processes in our body, all the transformations in our body occur.
The beauty of that is that that transformation itself we could probably quality as yang, however, it needs a yin, some sort of “thing” to actually transform. Because of this, then, we know that yin and yang can never really be separate. The only time they’re separate is in death. The little circles in the bigger part of the white and black, so, in this case the little black circle inside of the white is yin within yang, and then vice versa, the little white circle in and amongst the black is yang within yin. This tells us that yin and yang are never truly separate, they’re constantly generating one another, it’s a dynamic process. As much as we’re looking at it as a symbol right now, really, these processes are happening all the time, so there is constant movement.
Within acupuncture theory, the kidney is the yin organ, the urinary bladder is the yang organ. The yang organs are hollow organs. These are organs of process and function, meaning that they take in what’s coming in from the outside world and that information goes through the yang organs so the yang organs need to be hollow so that all that processing can happen. What they do is they further refine what’s coming into self and non-self or what’s essential and what’s nonessential.
So, what’s essential to carry forth and what’s nonessential and what can we let go of, i.e. through urine. We’ll get into all the other yang organs when we talk about those elements. In this case the urinary bladder takes that information in and then it translates that information and it says to the kidneys, yeah, this is essential let’s hold onto this, this is going to further deepen who you are at your core, this is going to provide you with more flow in your life, or it can evoke anxious feelings. Now, because of this, there is a tendency, there is no hard fast rules with anything in Chinese medicine, however, there are definitely tendencies, and that’s what we’re going to talk about here.
The tendency is because there is energy constantly moving through those yang orders, they can get blocked quite easily and therefore become more excessive. When they get blocked, the information that is being passed off to the yin essence organ, in this case the kidneys, if there is dysfunction it’s not going to be fully accurate or it’s going to be lacking in nourishment. There is a tendency, then, with the yin organs, the kidneys in particular, and I’ll go deeper into all of this with each element, with the kidneys in particular there is a tendency for it to show up in a more deficient state. This is relevant because when we’re talking about anxiety and how anxiety can manifest for each person, it’s very different. So, when we want to get a little bit more accurate or even just tune in a little bit more as to what it is that might be off from a functional Chinese medicine perspective, this is going to be an idea to keep in mind.