Are the eyes truly the "windows to the soul"? Thoughts on Shen and Chinese Medicine...


Connection...how does it happen? Ever notice that you can sense whether someone is truly present with you or not? Ever think, "...anyone home in there?" when you're with someone?


Before you continue to read this, please remember that the lens in which Chinese Medicine peers through is very different from that of our own Western minded understanding of how we exist in the world and beyond...that said, let's talk spirit shall we?


The term Shen can been translated as "Mind", "Soul" or "Spirit". It encapsulates the very essence of our "presence" or consciousness, and is what helps us connect with the outside world. It is understood that our Shen is housed within our heart and has a close relationship with the blood and vascular system. In fact, our blood nourishes our Shen...so don't forget to eat those dark leafy greens, people!

"To love is to burn, to be on fire." ~ Jane Austen

Shen is part of a trinity of vital substances known as the "Three Treasures" -

  • Qi

  • Shen

  • Jing

The Three Treasures are the basis of Chinese Medicine, and are believed to be integral in supporting human life.


In health, our Shen shines bright through our eyes, and allows us comfort and ease when interacting with others. When our Shen is strong, we tend to sleep better at night, and feel less stress and/or anxiety.

Unfortunately, there are times that our Shen can become obscured, preventing us from feeling that sense of connectedness with the world around us.

How does this happen? We are constantly hit with a barrage of emotions, energetics, and stressors...because of this, our hearts can take the "hit".

Grief, loss or the tremendous pain we experience as a result of losing loved ones can truly send our Shen into a tailspin...fortunately, our hearts are resilient, and Shen usually finds its way back to its "heart-home" where it can once again grow and thrive.


So how do we support our Shen?


Diet for one...remember I told you to eat your dark leafy greens? Building a healthy blood supply by consuming iron rich foods is crucial. If we don't create an environment that is comfy and cozy (blood rich) for our Shen to rest, we could end up with all kinds of issues: insomnia, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, or even more extreme heart conditions or illnesses. In fact, anemia (one condition that can send your Shen into upheaval) mirrors all of the symptoms I have discussed. I have personally suffered from this chronic condition and before I knew anything about Shen disturbance, I would have described it just as it is depicted in Chinese Medicine. It truly feels like you cannot "rest" within your own body.


Personally, my favorite way to support my Shen is through LOVE...simply allowing yourself to love and be loved is one of the most precious gifts we can give to one another. And believe me, I realize this isn't always easy...our hearts have broken, and healed, and broken and healed, and broken and healed again. This is bound to happen over and over in what feels like a never ending cycle...but, those moments you're experiencing the break, try your best to remember that the pain is just a reminder of the beauty you were blessed to feel, even if fleeting.

On that note, tell someone how much they mean to you...I promise you that you will not regret it. And (bonus), you will be giving both your and their Shen a big boost.






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