In TCM the spirit, mind and body cannot be separated. The spirit is called the “Shen” and resides in the Heart. Giovanni Macicocia describes the Shen as “the capacity to extend” outwards, to project outwards, to relate, to communicate with others: it is what makes us relate to the world and other human beings and what makes us truly “human”. A lack of shen can be seen in autistic children who have difficulty relating to others and extending outside themselves.

Shen is also inter-related with the Western concept of mind. It includes conscious as well as unconscious thoughts. If the Shen is strong, then thinking will be clear. The Shen of the Heart is responsible for our identity of self as individuals. This is lost in serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disease and is caused by obstruction of the Shen.

Emotions also depend on the health of the Shen. The heart represents the physical and emotional state of a person. Much of Confusion philosophy has the heart as the Emperor organ that governs all other organs, and therefore all emotions.

The body is the final part to add to the whole. This is the part Western medicine spends most of its efforts, without looking at how the spirit and mind may be affecting the body and vica versa. TCM recognizes and treats all aspects of a person.

To keep a strong spirit, mind & body one must use many practices of Chinese medicine such as acupuncture, herbal and nutritional therapy, exercise (Qi gong or Tai Chi). In other words, one tries to live a balanced life. A person can prevent disease states from occuring by putting these therapies into daily practice.

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