Grief and lungs

Grief and lungs DEFAULT

Preview to topic:

This topic has come about by chance. I typed in lungs after watching something on TV, and Google filter put lungs and Grief. Curiosity took over, I clicked to see what it might say and was surprised at what we found.

Grief is something that can be hard to put into words.

There are many levels to grief:

  • Grief will affect you differently depending on who you have lost.
  • Grief can affect you differently depending on the circumstances of the loss…….

Please see Lungs and Grief which covers:

  1. Introduction
  2. Illustrative Examples: Lungs and Grief
  3. Lungs and Grief
  4. Our Final thoughts/Our YouTube video

© Copyright 2019 Grief Probate Journey Blog *PLEASE NOTE THIS INFORMATION IS SOURCED FROM UK and AMERICAN WEBSITES* It is also based on our own experience. *We are not experts in this field, we are speaking purely on our own experience with information sought from the internet to give further examples. *

1. Introduction

This topic has come about by chance. I typed in lungs after watching something on TV, and Google filter put lungs and Grief. Curiosity took over, I clicked to see what it might say and was surprised at what we found.

One of the things we discovered is that each organ is related to an emotion, and the lungs are related to grief.

Grief is something that can be hard to put into words.

There are many levels to grief:

  • Grief will affect you differently depending on who you have lost.
  • Grief can affect you differently depending on the circumstances of the loss.

There are many emotional feelings with grief. It can impact you in many ways, mind body and soul.

BUT never would we have thought that grief can affect your lungs.

We feel there was a reason we came across this. We feel this needed to be shared in case there are others like us who might not have ever known or thought grief can affect your lungs.

We just had to make this a topic.

Sharing matters like this are especially important to us. Anything that could help someone going through something similar or help someone who knows someone going through something similar is what we are trying to achieve.

The grief journey my sister and I are on is a grief we have never experienced ever before.

Mental Health and wellbeing is important as standard, but when there are factors in life that can compromise this, we need to do the best we can to hear and listen to our bodies and give ourselves the self-care and self-love we deserve.

We are living through extremely difficult, life-changing, life-challenging times with this worldwide pandemic this makes it even more important for us to try our best to be aware and take that care (we also have a topic on Lung Infection).

For these reasons, we felt it essential to do this as a topic.

Please see Lungs and Grief:


2. Illustrative Examples: Lungs and Grief



3. Lungs and Grief

3.1Lungs and Grief

Grief and sadness directly affect the lungs. If we are unable to express these emotions or are being overwhelmed by them, it will weaken the lungs and compromise their main function: respiration”.

3.2What emotion is associated with the Lungs?



Grief is the emotion of the lungs and the large intestine, organs associated with the metal element”.

3.3 Grief – The release of sadness

“Fall and the lung emotion are about grief and letting go. The deep breathing and release of the lungs help to relieve the tightness and heaviness in the chest related to grief”. (5 Oct 2020).

3.4Can stress affect your lungs?

“Studies indicate that stress can lead to wear and tear of the lungs thereby deteriorating respiratory health. It is also known to worsen the symptoms of chronic lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD”). (15 Dec 2020)

3.5 How do you release grief from your lungs?

“Take a deep breath and inhale good energy. Release the breath and exhale all the toxicity from your body. Visualize the breath entering your lungs, clearing your head and then exhale and see the breath leaving your body through the bottoms of your feet”.

3.6Where do we store grief in the body?

“When we chronically repress emotions, we create toxicity in our body, mind, and heart. This unprocessed emotional energy is stored in our organs, muscles, and tissues”. (16 Nov 2018)

3.7Grief and the Lungs from a Traditional Chinese Medical Perspective

Grief and sadness directly affect the lungs. If we are unable to express these emotions or are being overwhelmed by them, it will weaken the lungs and compromise their main function: respiration”…

3.8How to protect the lungs during the seasons and emotional distress…

“If that exchange is blocked emotionally by grief and sadness, it affects the smooth action of the lungs. When someone is sad, they hold their breath and oxygen is “…

3.958. Free Your Lungs of Grief – MIR – Method

“Another cause: unresolved grief. Very often the cause lies in emotions and, in particular, unresolved grief. In Chinese medicine it appears that many lung disorders”…

3.10 What vitamins help repair lungs?

  • “Studies have suggested that many people with COPD have low vitamin D, and that taking vitamin D supplements helps the lungs function better”.
  • Researchers have linked low levels of vitamin C to increases in shortness of breath, mucus, and wheezing. More items… (3 Jan 2020)

3.11 Covid, Grief and the Lungs – Emma K. Dweck

“1 May 2020 — Grief is associated with the metal element and the lungs in Chinese medicine. Think of a mourner sobbing and wailing as a loved one is buried”.

3.12 Physical Symptoms of Grief – WebMD

“11 Jul 2019 — The sadness and other emotions you experience with grief can have a physical effect on you, too”.

3.13 Emotional Imbalances | nspirehealthyliving

“Recent discoveries on how the brain works have shed important new light on the role a wide variety of natural chemicals play in manufacturing normal thought patterns, feelings, self-awareness and perceptions.  Emotional imbalances occur when a person is not coping with life”….


4. Our Final thoughts/Our YouTube video

 We hope this topic might be of use to someone. As always we would like to wish you a safe day, evening, and week ahead.


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How Emotions and Organs Are Connected in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), emotions and physical health are intimately connected. This integrated mind-body approach to health and healing operates in a dynamic loop where emotions impact the health of the body and vice versa.

For example, according to TCM theory, excessive irritability and anger can affect the liver and result in multiple ailments, including menstrual pain, headache, redness of the face and eyes, dizziness, and dry mouth. Alternatively, imbalance in the liver can result in stormy moods.

Diagnosis in traditional Chinese medicine is highly individualized. Once an impaired organ system and/or emotional imbalance is identified, the unique symptoms of the patient determine the practitioner's treatment approach.


Traditional Chinese medicine has been practiced for over 2,000 years and its use in the United States as part of complementary healthcare has grown dramatically over the last few decades. In fact, from 2002 to 2007, there was a 50% increase in acupuncture use, from around 8 million to over 14 million people accessing this treatment.

TCM is based on the principle that mental and physical well-being are intricately entwined. In turn, practitioners believe that optimal health is governed by balancing a person's qi (vital life force) with the complementary forces of yin (passive) and yang (active) and the five elements of fire, water, earth, wood, and metal.

In TCM, it is believed that emotional imbalances can act as both symptoms and causes for physical issues. Additionally, mental health conditions are linked to specific physical ailments of key organs.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, emotions are narrowed down to five basic feelings that are each associated with a corresponding element and organ in the body:

  • Anger with the liver
  • Fear with the kidney
  • Joy with the heart
  • Sadness and grief with the lung
  • Worry with the spleen

For example, under the TCM theory, breast distension, menstrual pain, and irritability during menses are treated with certain herbs and acupuncture points that target the liver. Headaches, dizziness, excessive anger, and redness of the face point to an alternative type of liver pattern and are treated in a different way.

The TCM Approach

What does the liver have to do with migraines or PMS? Organ systems in TCM may include the Western medical-physiological functions, but they are also part of the integrated, holistic body system. So, the entire mind and body may be evaluated and treated to improve a specific health concern.

The liver, for example, ensures that energy and blood flow smoothly throughout the body. It also regulates bile secretion, stores blood, and is connected with the tendons, nails, and eyes.

By understanding these connections, TCM practitioners explain how an eye disorder such as conjunctivitis might be due to an imbalance in the liver. Or, excess menstrual flow may be due to dysfunction in the liver's blood-storing ability.

On the emotional side, the liver is connected to anger, which when out of balance, can be expressed in the extremes of excess wrath and irritation or as a lack of feeling, as in depression or PTSD. These mental health imbalances can be both symptoms and/or contributing causes of liver dysfunction.

When ailments occur, TCM practitioners seek to untangle the mind and body imbalances that contribute to a person's physical and mental health conditions using a variety of treatments, including acupuncture, herbal medicines, moxibustion (heat therapy), cupping (a suction procedure that cultivates blood flow), tui na massage (therapeutic massage and bodywork), and nutrition.

In addition to emotions, TCM philosophy believes that other elements, such as dietary, environmental, lifestyle, and hereditary factors, also contribute to the development of imbalances and the body's ability to heal itself.

Understanding the interplay of each of the five organ-emotion pairings is key to unlocking the healing potential of TCM. Below, we summarize traditional Chinese medicine's beliefs on how the connections and imbalances between these organs and emotions contribute to basic mental and physical health concerns.


The spleen plays an important part in the body's immune system and acts as a blood filter, removing old blood cells, bacteria, and impurities from the body. In TCM, the spleen is linked to the following emotions and ailments:

  • Emotions: Excessive mental work such as worry, dwelling, or focusing too much on a particular topic
  • Spleen function: Food digestion and nutrient absorption, helping in the formation of blood and energy and keeping blood in the blood vessels; connected with the muscles, mouth, and lips; also involved in thinking, studying, and memory
  • Symptoms of spleen imbalance: Tiredness, loss of appetite, mucus discharge, poor digestion, abdominal distension, loose stools, diarrhea, weak muscles, pale lips, bruising, excess menstrual blood flow, and other bleeding disorders
  • Spleen conditions: Spleen qi deficiency, spleen qi descending, spleen yang deficiency


The lungs bring oxygen into the body and remove carbon dioxide. In TCM, this organ is believed to be connected to grief and the following conditions:

  • Emotions: Grief, sadness, and detachment
  • Lung function: Respiration brings energy from the air and helps to distribute it throughout the body; they work with the kidney to regulate water metabolism; they are important in the immune system and for resistance to viruses and bacteria; they regulate sweat glands and body hair and provide moisture to the skin
  • Symptoms of lung imbalance: Shortness of breath and shallow breathing, sweating, fatigue, cough, frequent cold and flu, allergies, asthma, and other lung conditions, dry skin, depression, and excessive crying
  • Lung conditions: Lung qi deficiency, lung yin deficiency, and cold damp obstructing the lungs


Digestion and the processing of nutrients are primary functions of this vital organ. In TCM, the liver is associated with anger, depression, and the below physical symptoms:

  • Emotions: Anger, resentment, frustration, irritability, bitterness, and "flying off the handle"
  • Liver function: Involved in the smooth flow of energy and blood throughout the body; regulates bile secretion and stores blood; is connected with the tendons, nails, and eyes
  • Symptoms of liver imbalance: Breast distension, menstrual pain, headache, irritability, inappropriate anger, dizziness, dry, red eyes, and other eye conditions, and tendonitis
  • Liver conditions: Liver qi stagnation, liver fire


The heart pumps blood throughout the body. In TCM, this organ is linked with joy but the imbalance of joy is expressed as either too much (agitation or restlessness) or too little (depression). Below, are the mental and physical ailments linked with the heart:

  • Emotions: Lack of enthusiasm and vitality, mental restlessness, depression, insomnia, and despair
  • Heart function: Regulates the blood circulation and blood vessels; responsible for even and regular pulse and influences vitality and spirit; connected with the tongue, complexion, and arteries
  • Symptoms of heart imbalance: Insomnia, heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, excessive dreaming, poor long-term memory, and psychological disorders
  • Heart conditions: Heart yin and heart fire


The kidneys remove waste and excess fluid to make urine. In TCM, the kidney is related to fear, which can manifest as chronic fear or anxiety when qi out of balance, as well as result in:

  • Emotions: Fearful, weak willpower, insecure, aloof, and isolated
  • Kidney function: Key organs for sustaining life; responsible for reproduction, growth and development, and maturation; involved with the lungs in water metabolism and respiration; connected with bones, teeth, ears, and head hair
  • Symptoms of kidney imbalance: Frequent urination, urinary incontinence, night sweats, dry mouth, poor short-term memory, low back pain, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, other ear conditions, premature gray hair, hair loss, and osteoporosis
  • Kidney conditions: Kidney yin deficiency, kidney yang deficiency

Other TCM Conditions

Below are a few more conditions related to emotional and organ imbalances that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners may diagnose:

  • Blood stagnation: chronic and acute pain
  • Blood deficiency: headaches, dizziness, and fatigue
  • Stomach heat: digestion issues


Despite the growing popularity and anecdotal evidence, it's important to note that many TCM treatments and philosophies have not been vetted in the same way as conventional Western medical care. While TCM has been practiced for centuries and has been shown to be effective for treating some conditions—particularly those related to pain and stress—much research is mixed or unclear.

More research needs to be done to determine the efficacy and safety of TCM treatments for specific health issues.

Interestingly, in some cases, the benefits of TCM treatments are correlated to the placebo effect. However, rather than simply dismissing the efficacy of those TCM practices, these findings reinforce the powerful (and in many ways, still mysterious) link between mind and body in the healing process, which is the underpinning theory of TCM itself.

How the Nocebo Effect Influences Your Response to Treatment

A Word From Verywell

As the symptoms of many alternative medicine TCM syndromes may be linked to a number of serious health conditions, it's important to consult your traditional medical doctor for assessment as well. Self-treating a health condition and/or avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

That said, TCM can be a productive component of an integrative health approach, which many people find to be beneficial to their mental and physical well-being.

Thanks for your feedback!

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Zhang Y, Lao L, Chen H, Ceballos R. Acupuncture use among American adults: What acupuncture practitioners can learn from National Health Interview Survey 2007?. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:710750. doi:10.1155/2012/710750

  2. Lee YS, Ryu Y, Jung WM, Kim J, Lee T, Chae Y. Understanding mind-body interaction from the perspective of East Asian medicine. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:7618419. doi:10.1155/2017/7618419

  3. Scheid V. Depression, constraint, and the liver: (Dis)assembling the treatment of emotion-related disorders in Chinese medicine. Cult Med Psychiatry. 2013;37(1):30-58. doi:10.1007/s11013-012-9290-y

  4. National Institutes of Health. How the Spleen Keeps Blood Healthy. Published July 12, 2016.

  5. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Liver Disease.

  6. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Traditional Chinese Medicine: What You Need To Know. Updated October 2013.

  7. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Acupuncture: In Depth. Updated January 2016.

Additional Reading
  • Lao L, Huang Y, Feng C, Berman BM, Tan MT. Evaluating traditional Chinese medicine using modern clinical trial design and statistical methodology: Application to a randomized controlled acupuncture trial. Stat Med. 2012;31(7):619-27. doi:10.1002/sim.4003

  • National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. The Foundations of Oriental Medicine Expanded Content Outline. Updated February 1, 2014.

  • Pacific College of Health and Science. Emotions and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

  • Tierra M, Tierra L. Chinese Traditional Herbal Medicine Volume 1: Diagnosis and Treatment. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 1998.

  • Ye J, Cai S, Cheung WM, Tsang HWH. An East meets West approach to the understanding of emotion dysregulation in depression: From perspective to scientific evidence. Front Psychol. 2019;10:574. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00574

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Grief, Immunity, and the Season of the Lungs

Lung Illness

If we don’t release our grief but instead hold on to it for long periods of time, it becomes stuck, constricting our breathing and our chest. Eventually this affects the heart—emotionally and physically.

Lung and grief-related health problems I treat in the fall include  

·      Skin issues-—Our skin is the body’s largest organ and it is responsible for controlling and regulating our bodily fluids. Lung qi descends downward, moving water into the other organ systems. If lung health is compromised, we may see edema, a pale white complexion or dry skin occurring. Patients may complain of excessive sweating, or lack of sweating

·      Hair Health—If lung qi is weak, the protective qi fails to moisten the body hair and skin. causing it to become brittle.

·      Respiratory Illness—Allergies colds and flu are signs the lung and metal element are in need of harmonizing. Asthma and breathing issues are directly related to lung health.

·      Muscle Spasms and Body Aches—when the body is in weakened state, bacteria or viruses may invade and cause an inflammatory response with painful, aching muscles.

Treatments to Move and Release

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture treat holistically. I often see patients who present with extreme emotional pain, that has resulted in physical health issues and they are unaware of the relationship between the two. A patient may have gotten divorced and thought they had grieved and put it behind them. Another patient may have finally received a job offer after months of unemployment, and they assume their health decline is due to the stress of a new job. I believe the months of suppressed anxiety and depression could have resulted in a physical illness. The goal of a treatment at Acupuncture by Andrea is to relieve both your physical and emotional symptoms through acupuncture and herbal medicine, bodywork, and counseling.

Treatments for these issues are generally best before the issues start. If you want to boost your immune system and avoid sickness, acupuncture and herbal medicine are key. If issues are chronic like grief they can take longer to surface and require more treatment time. A complaint that involves direct function of the lung such as excess phlegm, might require only a few visits and herbs to remedy.

Not only will you boost your immune system, but you may lose weight and feel less bloated after a treatment. When we treat your skin problems that resulted from lung issues, we will diminish or demonstrably reduce, allergy symptoms.

Herbal formulas prescribed in the fall tend to contain herbs that boost the immune system. They reinforce or strengthen the body’s energy and vitality by clearing it of excess waste, phlegm, parasites, and excess fluids.

Have you gone through a period of grief and issues of lung health?  Did you seek acupuncture treatment and find relief? Leave a comment below and let us know about your experience with the season of the lungs and grief.

This article is the second in a series of five I will be sharing with you on the efficacy of Chinese medicine in treating emotional disharmony.

Connection between Sadness or Grief and your Lungs in the body

Transforming Grief into Awe:  Covid 19, Your Lungs and Large Intestine

In Part One of this series, I wrote about the impact of imbalanced fear on our individual and collective nervous systems, described how regulating our own nervous system has a positive impact on our immune system, suggested that when we interact with others in person, on the phone, or even on via social media with a regulated nervous system, we can help others move from fear to wisdom (or dysregulation to regulation), and provided one somatic grounding tool to promote nervous system self-regulation.

I promised that Part Two of the series would provide additional tools for self-regulation in this hugely uncertain and unsettling time.  And I will live up to that promise and get there by the end of this article.  However, when I sat down to write, I realized that I wanted to first discuss the connection in Chinese Medicine (CM) between the emotion of grief and the Lungs, as well as the relationship between the Lungs, which take in breath and heavenly inspiration and the Large Intestine, which helps us metabolize what we need from the food (and experiences) we take in and lets go of waste or experiences, ideas, and relationships that no longer serve us.

Metal Element:  Lungs and Large Intestine

In CM, the Lungs and Large Intestine are associated with the Metal element. Metal is the element most profoundly impacted by the Covid-19 virus. The virus’ impact on the Lungs is clear.  It is less discussed but important to note that the virus also impacts healthy digestive functioning.

The pairing of the Lungs and Large Intestine doesn’t intuitively make sense through the framework of western medical physiology; however, in CM, the Lungs and Large Intestine require each other for the critical dynamic of receiving inspiration and letting go of life’s imperfections.  The emotion associated with the Metal element is grief.  When we learn how to remain present with the physiological sensations associated with grief and our bodies process and metabolize this grief, we are able to transform grief into the virtue of awe.

From a CM perspective, healthy Lung function means we are able to receive breath and inspiration from “the heavens.”  The Lungs provide us with the capacity for spiritual connection, inspiration, wonder and awe. Healthy Lung function enables us to stay connected to each moment; each inhale takes in something new and each exhale lets go of something old.  Chinese Medicine posits that a healthily functioning Large Intestine enables us to let go of food waste, as well as relationships, material items, and/or experiences that are best purged.  The kinds of relationships and experiences that leave us feeling spiritually stuck or blocked up on the inside (spiritual constipation, if you will).

When our Metal element is out of balance due to either unprocessed grief or an inability to let go of that which no longer serves us, the physiological function of the Lungs and/or the Large Intestine may be impacted.  This can and often does lead to difficulties breathing (asthma), vulnerability to frequent respiratory illnesses and other lung-related conditions and/or constipation/diarrhea and other other digestive difficulties.  On a psycho-spiritual level, when our Lungs and Large Intestine are not functioning optimally, we may find it difficult to connect spiritually, incapable of experiencing awe or receiving inspiration and unable to let go of experiences, feelings, material possessions, or relationships that are no longer of value in their current form.

A Word About Grief

Grief is for many of us, myself included, the most difficult emotion to be with.  It sits heavy in the body and takes up a lot of space.  In CM, each of the emotions affects the body in a specific way. Over time, when we are attuned to the connection between our emotions and physiological reactions, we develop the capacity to perceive this. According to CM, grief dissipates the body’s Qi and this dissipation over time causes our body’s vital energy to vanish, thereby significantly weakening our immune systems.  A significant loss can be unmooring for years, decades, or even throughout the span of a lifetime.  While other emotions like fear and anger also are difficult to stay with long enough to metabolize, processing grief is sticky (like phlegm in the Lungs) and needs ample time.

As I write this, I am grieving the loss of a lifelong significant relationship.  I’ve observed that when I sit with the grief associated with this loss, it sometimes arrests my breathing.  It frequently feels as though I am walking around with something very heavy on my chest.  This particular grief is very personal, but I mention it because I’ve noticed that it is compounded by older, unprocessed grief about the state of the world, as well as newer grief related to various personal and collective losses associated with the pandemic we are currently living through.

According to CM, when something tragic happens in our external environment, in order to effectively understand and treat the problem, we must understand the nature of the external cause (be it a novel coronavirus, a fire, a flood, or a terrorist attack), as well as the impact of our internal reaction to this experience.  The grief in the collective (along with the fear and anger) has been palpable for some time now for the vast majority of us who have paid even a little bit of attention to the destruction of our ecosystems, rampant gross inequality in our society, deep-seated racism and misogyny, endless wars, the largest forced displacement crisis in history and more.

The following cannot be overstated:  grief is a healthy reaction to our personal losses as well as to witnessing or personally experiencing wanton cruelty and destruction of various segments of humanity and the planet on which we reside. It is harmful to our bodies to suppress, bypass, or ignore the natural reaction to such profound losses.  It is equally harmful to other bodies when we minimize, deny or try to override their personal experiences of grief.

The bottom line is grief—personal and collective—for many of us is not new and that this Covid-19 pandemic offers its own litany of experiences for which the emotion of grief is appropriate.  Illness and loss of loved ones; the prospect of chaos and a further breakdown of our healthcare and social safety net systems; isolation; the loss of our livelihoods and the loss of a sense of normalcy.  Finally, just as we need tools to metabolize in each of our bodies our natural fear of this moment in order to stay regulated and help regulate others with whom we are in contact, we also need to bring increasing awareness to, process, and metabolize our individual and collective grief in order to ultimately transform the grief into awe.

The Gift of Grief

From a CM perspective, grief offers the opportunity to receive profound gifts when experienced and fully metabolized by the body.  As mentioned, the Lungs, when in balance, take in what is precious (breath, heavenly inspiration) and let go of it the next moment; they keep us connected to each present moment and the awe inherent in being alive.  The Large Intestine, when in balance, metabolizes and uses from our food (or experiences) only that which is precious and expels that which we don’t want or need.  When we fully experience our grief, the Lungs and Large Intestine work together to hone in on what is most precious about the lost person, relationship, place or experience, as we eventually let go of the material form of that which is lost.

As I grieve my personal loss and bring more awareness to my grief about our collective losses, I practice, moment by moment, staying present with the heavy sensation in my chest and the waves of emotions that wash over me without walling these feelings off or denying their existence.  With the loss of my life-long friendship, the longer I sit with and metabolize the grief, the better able I am to hone in very precisely on how this person and the relationship changed me irrevocably and for the better, while slowly letting go of the muck that necessitated the end of the relationship.  By staying with the bodily sensations connected to my grief and allowing the gifts to be received, acknowledged and metabolized, I am slowly but surely experiencing an easing of the heavy sensation and an ability to inhale more deeply and exhale more fully.

Similarly, as I sit with my own pandemic-related grief about what has been personally lost over the past few weeks, I’ve also observed how others’ grief over isolation, loss of employment, loss of freedom of movement and loss of a sense of normalcy has impacted them and the feeling in the collective.  While I cannot name precisely all of the gifts that have and will come out of this pandemic, I feel certain that there could be many, for me personally, for each of you, for our families, communities, and for the earth.

Exercises to Strengthen the Lungs and Metabolize Grief

It is especially important to be gentle and compassionate with yourself before embarking on the following practices.  This is true especially if you hold a lot of unprocessed trauma in your body.  Go slowly, stop if grief (or another emotion) overwhelms you, go back to the somatic grounding meditation in my first article.  If needed, reach out to me or another trusted professional for support.

Review of Somatic Grounding Exercise

*I’m starting off with a quick review of the somatic grounding tool that I outlined in detail in the article “Transforming Fear into Wisdom.”  If you need more description to drop into a calm and regulated state, please refer to the longer article or any other resource you have access to:

  1. Find the support below you (earth, bed, floor, chair) and imagine your body growing heavier.  Let gravity have you, trust the support of the earth/bed/floor chair.  Place one hand on your sternum, over your heart and one on your low belly.
  2. Deep and slow inhalations through your nose (count to four or higher), steady, smooth exhalations through your mouth.
  3. Scan your body for a place that feels open, safe and supported. Name to yourself the  sensations you feel in that part of your body.
  4. If your breathing is regulated and you’re able to tolerate it, move your awareness to  an area of your body that feels tight, constricted, or uncomfortable.  Name the  sensations.  Use your breath and a hand on this area and stay with the sensation until it changes.  Observe and name for yourself what it changes to.

Using Touch to Stimulate the Lung Channel

*This exercise can be completed seated or lying down.

  1. Settle your body, breathe fully and deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Observe your breath as it moves into your nostrils and travels down through the chest. Observe whether you can feel your diaphragm moving down toward your lower belly.
  2. Notice where breath moves easily and freely and where it might feel a bit stuck. Stay with the stuck places for a few additional breaths and notice any shifts.
  3. After 2-3 minutes of breathing and observing, bring your two pinky fingers to the notch in your throat and spread your other fingers and thumb in the space below the collarbone on either side of your sternum.
  4. Moving from the center to the periphery, use your fingers to tap the space between your collarbone and first rib. Tap all the way out to the juncture between your collarbone and shoulder socket.
  5. Use firm pressure so that you can feel the tapping along and underneath the bones. Continue to breathe, smooth and steady inhalations and exhalations.
  6. Once you reach the periphery, bring your hands back to their starting place at the center of the chest and tap toward the periphery. Continue doing this for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Then place your thumbs in the hollow just below the juncture of your collarbone and shoulder socket (right thumb in right hollow, left thumb in left hollow). Use firm pressure and press deeply into the space underneath your thumbs.  Hold for 30-45 seconds (keep breathing, soft and smooth inhalations and exhalations), release and take 3-5 normal breaths, repeat the press 3-5 times. (Note: Using your thumbs in the manner and location described above stimulates the acupuncture points at the beginning of the Lung channel.  These points are indicated for regulating the smooth flow of breath, dispersing fullness that creates tightness or fullness in the chest, clearing sticky, old phlegm or grief stagnating in the Lungs.)
  8. Finish by placing your hand over the center of your breastbone, take several more breaths while observing any shifts in your body since the beginning of this practice.

Using Touch to Stimulate the Lung Channel, Part Two

*This exercise should be completed while seated comfortably.

  1. Repeat Steps One and Two above.
  2. Settle your body and spend 2-3 minutes breathing and observing as described above. Rotate your left arm externally so that the palm side is facing up. Use a pillow, blankets or some other support underneath your left arm.
  3. Place the palm of your right hand in the hollow between the juncture of your collarbone and shoulder girdle and loosely curl your fingers around the top of the arm.
  4. Use the right hand to comb the left arm from the shoulder to the wrist. Use firm pressure (not so much that it hurts) and increase the pressure as you move your right hand from the inside of the elbow through the inside of the wrist.  Repeat combing for 2-5 minutes.  Here you are using touch to awaken your Lung, Heart, and Heart Protector channels which run along the inside of your arm.
  5. After combing, turn your left palm up so that your thumb faces the ceiling. With your right thumb, find your left radial wristbone (look for the knobby area on the thumb side of your wrist) and then slide your thumb up about 3/4 of an inch.  (You might even feel your thumb slide into the notch on the bone).  Wrap your four right fingers underneath your wrist and press the pas of your fingers against the bone on the pinky side of the hand.
  6. Use very firm pressure with your right thumb and hold while breathing (always breathing)—soft and smooth inhalations and exhalations. Hold for 30-90 seconds.(Note: You are stimulating Lung 7, a very important point on the Lung channel that is used to strengthen Lung function/immunity, treat various Lung disharmonies (cold, virus, flu, cough) and treat grief.)
  7. Repeat the entire sequence, starting with combing and ending with stimulating Lung 7 on the other side (this time using your left hand to comb and press on the right side).
  8. Finish by placing one of your hands over the center of your breastbone, observing your breath and any shifts in your body since the beginning of this practice.

Breathing, Grounding, Resourcing:  Beginning to Metabolize Your Grief

This practice is a particularly helpful way of training your body to settle *while* experiencing your grief (or any emotion that is being held and creating discomfort in your body).  This exercise in particular should be practiced gently and with a lot of tender self-compassion.  It is important to touch into your grief (or whichever emotion is creating discomfort) only *after* you feel settled in your body.  If you practice the first few steps and find it difficult to relax your body, continue to breathe, ground and resource, but don’t move into touching your discomfort until the next time you practice this exercise.

*This practice can be completed lying down, seated with or without support.  Follow the sequence of allowing your body to grow heavier and access the support of the ground beneath you.

  1. Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, observing the movement and flow of breath in through your nostrils, as it fills your lungs and descends in the body.
  2. Think about an animal, place, person or object that makes you feel safe and secure and visualize that you are in the safe place or with the safe animal, person or object.
  3. Continuing to breathe naturally, observe your body’s experience of that safety for 1-2 minutes.
  4. If your body feels settled and safe, think of a moderately painful experience (but not a traumatic one). For five seconds, focus on what is painful about the experience and as you do so, observe the sensations in your body.  Observe also any thoughts or images that arise.
  5. Without disengaging from the uncomfortable sensations, practice grounding, breathing, and accessing the safe resource you thought of above. Stay with your bodily sensations and your breath as you notice your body relax and settle once more.
  6. Now disengage or let go of the incident from your past. Continue breathing and observing, coming back to the present moment.
  7. If any part of your body still feels uncomfortable, place one of your hands on this area and allow the weight, shape and warmth of your hand to provide support.
  8. As you practice this tool regularly (every day or every other day), gradually increase the length of time you stay with the painful experience until you’re able to stay present with it for at least one minute.

Transformation of Grief to Awe:  A writing practice

I suggest doing this after you’ve used one or more of the exercises designed to support grounding, breathing, resourcing, awakening, and metabolizing emotions.  You need a pen, journal, notebook or piece of paper.  Take one of the following prompts or questions and write without stopping for at least ten minutes; time yourself.  Increase two minutes every week that you do this exercise.

It is important to allow your hand to keep moving the whole time even if you are writing filler words.  When we stop writing our lizard brain will jump in, often with all kinds of self-sabotaging thoughts.  Those can come after you’re done writing; it’s almost guaranteed that they will.  These prompts are simply ideas that are relevant to the topic of this article, but please don’t feel limited by them should you decide to adopt a regular writing practice:

*Write about a time when you wanted to, but couldn’t cry.  Be specific.  What happened?  Who was there?  Where were you?  What did it feel like in your body?

*Write about a time when you were curled up in a ball crying hysterically on the floor or a bed or your friend’s couch.  Be specific.  What happened?  Who was there?  Where were you?  What did it feel like in your body?

*Write about a time you lost an important person (or animal) in your life through death, a break-up, a ruptured connection.  Be specific.  Who was it?  What happened?  Describe your memories of that person.  How do you notice today the absence of this person in your life?

*Write a letter to the person (or animal) described above.  Tell them what you remember about them.  Be specific.  Tell them how their absence in your life shows up.  Name some tangible gifts you received from them.  Tell them how it felt to lose them.  Tell them how you are changed because of them.  Tell them anything and everything you never had a chance to say.

*Describe a time you felt overwhelmed with awe by the beauty or grandeur of a time in nature.  Be specific!

*Describe what you feel you have lost already during this pandemic.  What more are you afraid of losing?  How do these losses feel in your body?  Now describe what you have gained?  What other gifts might you receive during this extended period of pause?  How does it feel in your body?

The Potential Gifts Of Living Through This Pandemic

Charles Eisenstein wrote “Covid-19 is like a rehab intervention that breaks the addictive hold of normality.  To interrupt a habit is to make it visible; it is to turn it from a compulsion to a choice.  When the crisis subsides, we might have occasion to ask whether we want to return to normal, or whether there might be something we’ve seen during this break in the routines that we want to bring into the future.”

I couldn’t agree more with Eisenstein.  And I firmly believe that if each one of us brings awareness to the grief and other emotions we and those around us are experiencing and commit to processing and metabolizing these emotions instead of simply walling them off for the sake of “business-as-usual-when-all-of-this is-over,” that we have the opportunity to both deeply mourn our losses and find the gifts we want to bring forward individually and collectively into the world.

I’m curious about which gifts each of you has received already and hopeful about which gifts we will yet to see as we move through this period.  My curiosity has inspired me to ask of myself and my loved ones (including all of you reading this):  how can each of us use this time to feel into our own losses as individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, cities, towns, states, nations, earth?  What would happen if we were to each acknowledge our grief, let it take up the space it needs, stay with it until it’s metabolized, find the gifts that come out of honing in on what is precious and letting go of what no longer serves?  How will we individually and collectively answer Eisenstein’s question about whether we want to return to normal, or whether there is something we’ve witnessed, experienced, or learned during this break in our routines that we choose to bring to the future?


And lungs grief

Dealing With Grief – A TCM Perspective

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I have been dealing with a lot of grief lately. This is usually the way it goes. A patient comes in who is suffering with loss. Perhaps it is the breakup of a relationship, the loss of a pet or the death of a loved one. There is nothing more devastating to us than loss. It hurts the heart and leaves us with an emptiness that is difficult to fill. It is something that everyone on the planet will have to deal with many times in their lives, so I thought that I would talk about some of the ways that it can be made a little easier, less painful, and with minimal suffering in the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

I find that I tend to treat conditions in waves. It is common for a patient to seek out treatment for say, anxiety, and then you find that for the next little while, there is a constant stream of anxious patients coming to see you. You can speculate as to what the reasons for this are, and I suspect that might be the subject of another article, but for now let’s just say that in my experience, this is how it happens. And lately, many patients have been suffering with grief. Overwhelmingly.

Who doesn’t have to deal with grief at some time or another? Grief is a natural, healthy emotion and is an important part of being human. Unpleasant as it may be to feel, it is important that we feel it, make our peace with it, and let it go. I am not talking about letting go of the memory of the pet, the person you are no longer with, or the loved one who has passed away. Those are memories you will have forever. It is the grief itself that must be expressed so that it can be let go. This is healthy.

So, how do we measure grief? How do we know what we are experiencing is not “normal” and that we may need help in letting it go? It is true that you cannot listen to grief with a stethoscope, or measure it with a blood test. How it is experienced is highly individualistic. The severity of the grief is not reflected in how it is seen from the outside, it is measured by how it is felt by the individual, or experienced from the inside. The breakup of a relationship may to one person be sad but manageable, but to another may cause the fabric of their lives to unravel. The loss of a pet to one person may be unpleasant, and devastating to another. The severity of the loss is measured in how it is FELT, not by some external metric, comparing situations with levels of grief.

Chinese medicine is concerned with grief that is repressed, unexpressed, (unable to be expressed), expressed without control or in the proper context. Emotions are only considered pathological when they are particularly intense, felt for prolonged periods, unacknowledged or unexpressed.

So how do we express grief in a healthy way? This is what I would like to share with you. And to do so, we will have to look briefly at the way Chinese medicine sees the body, the emotions and their connection to our health.

Chinese medicine has a holistic view of the body. Everything is seen to exist within the continuous circle of nature. When the elements of nature are in balance, life is in harmony and flourishes. Humanity cannot be separated from nature, we are nature, manifest as people. Living in harmony with the world around us is the way to maintain health. If one were to live out of balance with nature, illness would develop.

Another vital aspect of the TCM model is the psychological aspect of our beings. What we feel has a huge impact on our physical bodies, thus, emotional wellness is an important aspect of our health. In the West, I believe this connection is just recently being acknowledged and accepted, but the Chinese have known this for thousands of years. How could it not be a factor? Our bodies are the way we physically experience the world, but only one aspect of how we experience our existence. In TCM, every aspect on every level is important, and all must be considered when evaluating a person’s overall health.

Grief and the Lungs in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

Let us look at the lung, the relationship it has to specific mental states, diseases and our ability to maintain health.

Every organ in TCM is associated with an emotion. For example:

Liver = Anger
Spleen = Worry or Overthinking
Heart = Joy
Kidneys = Fear
Lungs = Sadness or Grief

The lungs are responsible for taking clean, oxygen-rich air into the body, and breathing out air full of harmful carbon dioxide. They are responsible for taking in the new and letting go of the old, the constant cycle of life.

Every Organ in TCM has a partner organ. One is yin, the other yang and they work together to keep the body in balance. The lungs are yin and their yang partner is the large intestine. The lungs take in the new, and the large intestine releases the waste. Many breathing and bowel disorders are rooted in excess grief and sadness and excessive grieving can lead to disorders of both the lungs and the large intestine. Therefore, our abilities to accept and be open to new experiences, and to let go of things that are painful or harmful is important to both our emotional and physical well being.

In traditional Chinese medicine, every organ has a series of things associated with it. These are the clues to dealing with the organ when it is out of balance, either in excess or deficient. For example – when the lung is weak, eating pungent foods is beneficial. The best time to tonify the lung is in the autumn when its energy is at its peak, and the emotion of sadness affects the lungs more than any other organ.

Related Organs (Yin-Yang Partner): Large Intestine
Emotion – Grief / Sadness
Season – Fall / Autumn
Flavour – Pungent
Colour – White
Healing Sound – sssssssssss

In Chinese medicine, we don’t use words like “disease” or “illness”. These are Western terms. In TCM, we say the body is suffering from an Imbalance, or a disharmony. In TCM, the emotions can be either the cause or the result of the imbalance. For example – asthma can be caused by prolonged sadness (the emotion of the lung), conversely, a person suffering from chronic asthma over many years may develop grief (the cause of the grief is the asthma). It is a circle of interaction.

From a seasonal perspective, autumn is the season of the lungs, so this is the season where it is most important to take care of this delicate organ so that we can avoid colds, flus and allergies. From an emotional standpoint, It is the season where we should become a little more introspective and concentrate on resolving or at least coming to terms with any underlying emotional issues and letting them go. This will allow us to make new space to bring positive emotions into our hearts and lives. Walks in nature, and breathing in the crisp, dry air will help immensely in this process.

The energy of the lungs is the lung “qi” (pronounced chee). qi is best translated to “energy”. Lung qi is the energy by which the lung functions take place. If these aspects are functioning properly, then your lung qi is strong. The lungs have many functions in TCM. Here is what the lungs are responsible for:

The lungs are the organ that take qi from the world and breathe it into the body. The lungs govern qi. Qi is the energy that is needed for all the body’s processes. It is like the gasoline that a car needs to function and go. The stronger the lungs, the more qi they are able to take in and distribute to the rest of the body, necessary for all its vital functions. The weaker the lungs, the less qi there will be, and an imbalance is created.

The condition of the skin and body hair is a direct reflection of the strength of lung qi. This includes the sweat glands which are part of our ability to remove toxins and waste materials from our bodies, as well as protect us from the outside from things like pathogenic factors. The skin, body hair and sweat glands can be loosely translated as a part of our immune system. If your lung qi is weak, you are susceptible to colds and flus. If these colds and flus are not resolved quickly they get deep into the body and can turn into bronchitis and pneumonia. The lungs are particularly susceptible as they are one of the few organs that have a direct connection to the outside of the body.

The lungs are the boss of qi. They are located in the upper region of the body and are therefore responsible for making sure the qi descends into the lower part of the body and gets everywhere it needs to go. A chronic cough illustrates this function as a cough in TCM is energy ascending rather than descending due to weakness of the lungs energy.

Grief and the Lungs in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

As anyone with allergies can tell you, we need our noses for breathing. The energy or qi of the lungs is needed for proper respiratory and olfactory function in the nose. When the lungs are strong, we will breathe easily and our sense of smell will be sharp. When lungs are deficient, we will be congested, have a runny nose and our sense of smell will be impaired.

The lungs are associated with clear thinking and communication, openness to new ideas, positive self-image, and the ability to relax, let go and be happy. When the lungs are out of balance or you are dealing with excessive grief, you will have difficulty coping with loss and change, a sense of alienation, and experience a prolonged sense of sadness that does not dissipate. The lungs are also associated with attachment, so if you have a hard time letting go of people, objects, experiences or spend a lot of time reliving the past, this can point to a deficiency of the lungs. If the energy (or qi) of the lungs is weak, you may experience an overwhelming, constant state of grief that does not ease. This deficiency, if prolonged, can lead to depression and other issues.

In contrast, grief that is expressed fully and resolved is strengthening both physically and psychologically. Therefore it is not avoiding grief, but rather dealing with it in a healthy way that is the key to being happy and maintaining balance in all aspects of life.

There are many things that you can do to help you through a difficult period of grief. One of the most important is to acknowledge how you are feeling. It is common for people to avoid feeling emotions that are overwhelming and/or unpleasant, but it is only in acknowledging our feelings that we may begin to deal with them and move on. Secondly, don’t judge. One of the most harmful things that we can do is to judge our own feelings. This is often worse than the emotion we are judging.

Here is an example:

I am feeling frustrated because I have been plagued by headaches lately. The pain makes working difficult and it is hard to concentrate or get anything done. When I think about my anger I instantly feel ashamed because my best friend is in the hospital dying of cancer. How can I be irritated by headaches when she is suffering so much more than I am?

You see, anger is the emotion and shame is the judgement. There is nothing wrong with being frustrated by having headaches. That is normal. But judging that emotion is not healthy and only makes you feel worse. It is also entirely self-imposed. I mention this because I have seen this so much in practice. I find that people are very hard on themselves, as there is a constant comparison to what other people are dealing with. So, my advice to you is this. Feel what you are feeling. Don’t judge it. It is good and valid. Try to step outside of it. Observe it, and let it pass. And be kind to yourself. I think we could all use a little more self-love too.

Below are some exercises specific to grief, some beneficial foods for the Lungs, and other recommendations to help deal with grief in a healthy way, and let it go so we can move onto better things.

Because grief is associated with the lungs, the way to release it most effectively is through deep breathing exercises. By deep, I mean by breathing into the diaphragm and filling the lungs to capacity. Deep breathing is practised in meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong and many of the internal arts. Even more powerful is breathing with visualization which helps to cleanse, detoxify and release grief from the body. Below are some breathing exercises for releasing grief.

Grief and the Lungs in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

Breathe in through your nose, and think of breathing in all the way to your belly, taking is as much air as possible. Once the lungs are completely full, hold the lungs full for a count of five. Once you have counted to five, exhale through your mouth from the very bottom of your Lungs until they are completely empty. Do this three times. This exercise should be done three times daily.

Find a comfortable place to sit with both feet flat on the ground. Place your hands in your lap, left over right. Mentally locate your lungs in your chest, and connect to them. The more clearly you are connected to them, the better and quicker the results.

Practice the breathing technique from above, filling your lungs (through your nose) to capacity. Do this a few times and really connect your awareness to your physical lungs in your chest. As you exhale, tilt your head back with teeth loosely clenched, tongue pressed gently to the roof of your mouth.

Exhale while making an ssssssssssssss sound. It is like the ‘s’ in snake. Repeat at least three times. Do as many times as you wish, but always in multiples of three. You are breathing out the toxicity and negative energy in your lungs. You are literally breathing out the grief and sadness.

The more you do this exercise, the more grief you release and the better you will feel.

Grief and the Lungs in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This technique uses two things along with deep breathing. Love and light. The colour associated with the lungs is white, so we will envision white light.

If your grief is the loss of a person or animal, imagine a happy time or funny situation you shared with them. This will cause you to smile and feel love. We will use this energy to heal the lungs. Use this technique after doing the healing sounds exercise.

Using the same breathing technique as the healing sounds, take this love energy after a deep breath (through the nose) and hold the breath while directing the love energy down into the lungs. Exhale through the mouth. Send the love energy down into the lungs as many times as possible, at least three times. Sense the love energy in your lungs.

Use the same breathing technique but now, when holding your breath, picture white light flooding your lungs and filling them to capacity. This is white, healing light. Exhale through the mouth. Repeat at least three times and repeat as many times as possible in multiples of three. Sense the white light healing your lungs.

Below is a list of foods that are beneficial for the lungs. Since these foods strengthen the lungs, eating them will give the lungs the energy they need to help you to move through your grief more quickly.
The flavour of the lung is pungent, so foods that are the most nourishing to the lungs are considered pungent in TCM.

~ Garlic
~ Sweet potato
~ Ginger
~ Onion
~ Cabbage
~ Pears
~ Walnuts
~ Black pepper
~ Radish
~ Rice
~ Chili
~ Cinnamon
~ Cardamom
~ Leek
~ Miso
~ Navy Beans
~ Soy Beans
~ Almonds
~ Asparagus
~ Broccoli
~ Cucumber
~ Celery
~ Mustard Greens
~ Apricot
~ Banana
~ Eggs

Once grief has taken up residence in your body and psyche it is doing damage that is important to have undone. Experiencing prolonged grief has a negative effect on every part of your being. The acupuncturist will help you to rebalance. When you are speaking with your acupuncturist, be honest. Tell them how you are feeling. That you have experienced a loss and are feeling sad is just as relevant to them as having diarrhoea or a yeast infection. Acupuncture works to rebalance the body, but is also immensely helpful for moving emotional blockages, and opening things up so they can be released.

I have treated grief many times. I have many protocols for moving it out of the body. There is often crying. Sometimes people cry and can’t stop. Frequently they are alarmed by their own outburst, but I know why they are crying, it is because the grief is moving, and they are finally letting it go. I am prepared with tissues and a kind heart.

In the privacy and safety of an acupuncturist’s office, people manage to let go of what has been festering for weeks, months and sometimes years. And that is wonderful. I include this because I think that many people don’t know about both the scope of acupuncture and what it can treat, and the importance of the emotions in the TCM medical model. If you have emotional issues that you are having difficulty dealing with, I urge you to try these exercises and foods, and if they are not enough, to seek out an acupuncturist and work with them to deal with the issues once and for all.

Massage is a very good way to move any stagnant or “stuck” grief in the body. Massages, like acupuncture, are very moving. If you have ever had a massage and been surprised by knots in your muscles that you didn’t know you had, you will understand how emotions affect the physical construct of our bodies.

Unpleasant emotions cause our bodies to constrict and stiffen up. That is why when people are sad, depressed and angry, their bodies often ache and they have a tendency to headaches, and other problems. These are the body’s way of communicating to you that there is something wrong. Massages of all sorts are wonderful for releasing tension, alleviating pain and moving grief and sadness.

Like acupuncture, it is not uncommon for someone to cry when they are having a massage. But, that is good, that means that the pain, grief and sorrow is being released and moving out of the body. A massage along with the breathing techniques listed above, walks in nature (while breathing in the fresh, new air), and adding some beneficial lung foods to your diet will have a huge impact on your ability to deal with your grief.

Another thing that you can do to help with grief is to massage along the lung meridian, which is located on the arms. When a patient comes in suffering with grief, I always include this in the treatment to help move it. The lung meridian is located bilaterally (on both sides of the body), begins under the clavicle, and descends down the arms, terminating at the corner of the nail on the thumb. I have included an image so you can more easily visualize it. Massaging the arms along the lung meridian is helpful, and they will often be sore if you are grieving. You can massage your arms, or have someone do it for you. Remember if you are using long, sweeping motions, always massage towards the heart.

In summary, I hope this gives you a better understanding of grief and how it is viewed in TCM. One of the reasons I wanted to write about it is because grief is so common and something I see so much in my practice. It is something we all experience, and Chinese medicine offers us many ways in which to deal with it in a healthy way. Our emotional lives are just as important as our physical ones, so staying balanced in all aspects in important to our overall health and wellbeing.


Grief and the Lungs : Chinese Medicine Living

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If you suspect you are having problems with grief or your lungs and would like an expert opinion, Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP offers skype consultations. She can be contacted at [email protected]

Heal Lungs bronchial, asthma, sadness, and grief with Dr. and Master Sha

When somebody close to you passes away, you go through a normal healing process called grieving. This is your body’s natural response to the loss of a loved one. Grief allows you to prepare emotionally for the journey ahead and at times, to experience your pain in stages.

Grief may not only come with the loss of a loved one—patients and their families can experience grief throughout the stages of the person’s illness, such as when they lose independence or become less active.

It is important to remember that everyone is different and will heal at a different pace. Sharing your feelings with others will help you to overcome your feelings and access support from those close to you.

Most people find that over time, their feelings become less intense. Do not be afraid to talk about your loved one with your friends and family, discussing memories and feelings can help you during the grieving process.

The grieving process

The process of grieving is a very individual and personal time and may last for a while. However, it won’t always be so intense. The reality of your loss may not set in right away, it may come in different stages.

Milestones may be emotional and be especially difficult to cope with, such as birthdays and special occasions. You may experience a range of difficult emotions, and struggle physically, socially, or spiritually. These are normal reactions and a natural response to loss. It is always important to remember that time will help to lessen the intensity of your feelings, and often the first milestone is the hardest.


Similar news:

The Emotions and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Recently we published a series of social media posts on emotions and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and we’re sharing it here on our website too for anyone who missed it.

TCM actually has some pretty interesting things to say about the emotions in the context of disease and health. The emotions are considered a cause of disease under certain conditions, such as a prolonged experience of one emotion or suppression of emotions. Dysfunction in the organ systems can also cause emotional symptoms; for example when the liver system is out of balance, excessive anger can result. Each of the emotions has correlations within a larger context, including a corresponding organ system and element. Below you’ll find more information about each of the emotions, including acupressure points for self-care.

People are hurting right now. We’ve heard it from you and we see it on the news and in our social media feeds. We’ve borne witness to police brutality and violence against Black individuals. A desperately needed national conversation on racism is starting to happen, and it’s painful. We’re mourning the loss of over 100,000 lives in this country and 400,000 globally from COVID-19. We’re physically isolated from one another and adjusting to new dynamics at work, school, and in our families. There are many reasons to feel overwhelmed emotionally, so we’re offering one perspective in the hope that you will find some comfort or insight in it. We hope it’s helpful. We’re here for you. 


According to TCM theory, grief is related to the lungs and the metal element. The lungs are our first line of defense against external pathogens, and their primary function is to disperse and disseminate Qi throughout the rest of the body. Prolonged, unprocessed grief impairs the lungs’ function and consumes the Qi, leading to exhaustion, lassitude and shortness of breath. 

We’re going through a time of immense grief. We’ve lost 100,000 lives in this country to a pandemic. We’re witnessing violence against Black, Indigenous and People of Color and the effects of generations of institutionalized racism. But grief has something to offer us. It contracts by nature, encouraging us to look within and identify sources of sadness that we’ve been holding on to. And our lungs give us the power to feel and express our grief.

Lung 3, aka Heavenly Palace, is wonderful point for processing grief and supporting the lungs. It calms and uplifts the spirit, helping to restore a sense of self worth and receptivity. It’s located on the upper arm, on the lateral border of the biceps muscle, about 6 inches above the elbow crease. Often when you massage this point your lungs will reflexively inhale deeply. It’s a great point to help you work through grief. 


According to TCM theory, anger is related to the Liver and the wood element. The wood element is all about growth and expansive movement, and the Liver directs this internally, both physically and emotionally. Anger is the natural response to any interruption in the Liver’s mission to move and grow. At the same time, an excess of anger or repressed anger inhibits the Liver’s function, leading to further emotional imbalance and feelings of frustration, resentment, aggression and depression. Imbalance in the Liver system manifests physically with headaches, waking up between 1-3AM, and tension in the neck and shoulders. 

Anger can injure the body when it’s either vented excessively or repressed. But the value of anger is that it gets our attention when things are out of balance in our body and in our world. Protesting, speaking out against injustice, and demanding action are all signs of the Liver doing its job in response to anger. Anger drives us forward and compels us to change and grow, as individuals and as a collective.

Liver 2, aka Moving Between, spreads Liver Qi and clears Liver fire. This is a great point to use when you’re feeing hot-headed or fiery-tempered. It’s located on the dorsal surface of the foot, between the first and second toes. It quells excess fire so the Liver can do its job of directing change and movement, instead of blazing into excess and rage.


According to TCM theory, fear is related to the Kidneys and the water element. The Kidneys are the root of our constitutional strength and are responsible for the natural unfolding of the life cycle. They’re the storehouse of Jing, which is often translated as Pre-Heaven Essence and is basically our genetic material; it’s what we come into the world with, passed down from our ancestors. Jing is precious stuff that can’t be replaced, so the energy for our everyday activities should come from food and air. If we don’t nourish ourselves properly, the body’s reserve of Jing gets depleted, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. 

So what does this have to do with fear? Prolonged fear, or sudden fright or shock, will damage the Kidney system and deplete the Jing. Conversely, excessive fearfulness or a tendency to frighten easily are symptomatic of weakness in the Kidney system. We can’t banish fear from our lives, but we can pay attention to it. Because the Kidneys store our ancestral inheritance of Jing, in this way they also contain the seed of our destiny. And entwined with that seed of destiny is fear. Fear can warn you of danger but it can also point you in the right direction. If we listen, if we spend some time with it and try to learn from it, fear can point us toward our highest purpose. 

Kidney 4, aka Great Bell, tonifies the Kidneys and strengthens the will to dispel fear. It’s located on the medial side of the ankle, on the edge of the Achilles tendon, level with the lower border of the ankle bone. In a time of fear and uncertainty, this point helps fortify the will to work through fear towards achieving our highest purpose.


According to TCM theory, worry is related to the Spleen and the earth element. The Spleen is responsible for transforming food into vital nutrients and transporting those nutrients to the rest of the body. In other words, the Spleen ensures proper digestive function. Excessive worry and overthinking tax the Spleen so it can’t do its primary job of digesting food. Prolonged deficiency of the Spleen leads to an accumulation of fluids and dampness, weighing you down physically, mentally and emotionally. This further weakens the Spleen system, impairing our capacity to think clearly and focus, and leaving us susceptible to even more worry. 

Mindfulness is one of the best practices to benefit the Spleen. Like most of us, the Spleen isn’t great at multitasking, and unfortunately for our Spleens we’re living in a time of endless distraction. Many of us try to do multiple things at once because we worry we’ll forget something, but we’re further burdening our Spleen, leaving to even greater worry. Give your Spleen the space to do one thing at a time. Whether you’re eating, reading, or working, try doing just that one thing and nothing else. You’ll have improved digestion and less worry as a result. 

Spleen 4, aka Grandfather Grandson, strengthens the Spleen, resolves excess dampness and calms the spirit. It’s located on the medial side of the foot, just distal to the base of the first metatarsal bone. Massaging this point is a great way to give yourself a mental break and alleviate unnecessary worry and overthinking. 


According to TCM theory, joy is related to the Heart and the fire element. The Heart houses the Shen, which is our emotional and spiritual being. The Shen embodies consciousness, emotions, mental function and vitality. The blood of the Heart nourishes the Shen and provides a resting place for it at night. The Heart is truly our emotional center, and is said to rule over all the other emotions. 

Joy nourishes the Heart, and healthy expressions of joy reflect a healthy emotional state. When there’s an imbalance of joy in our lives, it can be expressed as too much (agitation and mania), or too little (depression). Because the Shen needs rest, sleep disorders are one of the most common symptoms of imbalance in the Heart system. It’s not always easy to find joy in life. The other emotions of grief, fear, worry and anger must all filter through our Heart, and when we experience any of them in excess, it often leaves little room for joy. Remember that our spiritual being, our Shen, needs rest in order to thrive. Sleep. Take a break from the news. Meditate. Get acupuncture. Rest helps your Heart filter and process your emotions, leaving more room for joy. 

Heart 7, aka Spirit Gate, calms the spirit and tonifies the Heart. It’s located at the wrist joint, below the pinky finger. When your Heart and your Shen need a little TLC, this is your point.

Acupuncture is a wonderful way to restore emotional balance during times of stress and upheaval. Click here to schedule online or call us in East Nashville at 615-457-1979 or in Bellevue at 615-645-9866. We’re here to help.


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