The “Shen” in Chinese medicine relates to the conscious mind and its connection with the emotional Self and the world outside. In our mechanistic Western paradigm we tend to look at physical or mental health as disconnected from external stimulus – each “thing” is separate from each other “thing”. But it isn’t, is it? Shen disturbance is an interesting way of looking at mental health from a Chinese medicine perspective. Click here for a Shen-related article so that you can understand a bit more about it.
It’s all connected.
With recent developments in research where we are beginning to understand the “gut-brain” connection and how diet and nutrition impact on our mental health as well. We are re-learning that everything is interconnected and that the impact of one part of life can seriously affect the rest.
The shift into holistic philsophy when related to health applies also to our relationships, as discussed in this video from Katie Hood.
Relationships & our Shen
Katie is a representative of One Love, a relationships organisation in the US. Here she articulately illustrates the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Much of the time, patterns of behaviour either related to the Self (Shen in Chinese medicine terms), or interrelations with others have been inherited during developmental years, from our ancestors. They, in turn, may carry intergenerational patterns passed down through the family line.
Whilst unhealthy relationships at early stages don’t seem to pose any danger, there are warning signs that things could get out of hand later on. Signs are usually related to crossing or disregarding boundaries but extend to harms to self-esteem and sometimes mental, emotional and physical violence. Ideally, relationships in the external world, as within, according to holistic Chinese Shen centric philosophy, are balanced partnerships where each person is able to communicate and feel heard, and the balance of power is equal.
If these issues of imbalance are occurring in the home environment within the family or with an intimate partner, they may have a huge impact on everyone’s mental health and kids’ development patterns for later in life. In adults they can trigger or perpetuate other issues, and intimate partners or close friends can feed each other’s problems. The elephant in the room is that maybe the anxiety or depression that you are suffering from and have come to seek help for has been brought about by unhealthy ways of communicating with a partner before you have noticed it. This is not to attribute blame to either or both partners, but more to ascertain where communication difficulties are coming from. Other lifestyle aspects are related to mental health problems as well – diet and exercise, substance or alcohol use (including pharmaceuticals). But let us not forget about the impact of intimate relationships on our overall wellbeing.
With acupuncture & herbs to stabilise Shen disturbance combined with couples and individual counselling or psychology, these issues can be overcome with a positive outcome.
Of course if you are experiencing intimate partner or family violence please contact the relevant organisations.