The Five Shens or the Five Parts of Your Psyche
The human mind is one of the most complex things to ever be created. Humans are unique among the life forms of this planet in that we have tried for thousands of years to understand how it is that we tick.
So it should be no surprise that Chinese Medicine, of which acupuncture is a component, has created a theory about how the human mind works.
There are five main components; the Shen or Personality, the Zhi or Will, the Yi or Thought, the Hun or Ethereal Soul, and the Po or Corporeal Soul. Each of these components often called spirits exists in one of the organs; the Heart, Kidney, Spleen, Liver, and Lung respectively.
The Shen of the Heart is your basic personality traits. These include things and aspects like aggression, pensiveness, passivity, friendliness, greed, ambition, contentment, excitability, etc. The Heart Shen is how you as an individual related to the world and how people see you.
The Zhi of the Kidney forms the basis for your drive to actually do something rather than just sitting there and dying. This is your ability to find food. This is your need to find a mate, to make money, to go to work, to create anything. It is also your ability to resist the influence of an enemy.
The Yi of the Spleen is your abilities regarding thought. So this governs your capacity of reason. It is through the Yi that all information must pass. You are actually using it now as you read this article. So, this is the assimilation of information, the use of information, the recall and memory of information, and the understanding of information.
The Hun (pronounced Hoon) of the Liver is your ability to form relationships. Also known as the Ethereal Soul, this is the link that you form to other people and the world, because it is the nature of Wood which is the element of the Liver to reach out. It is through the Hun that we as humans can exist as a society, as families, as friends, or even as lovers. It is the Hun that recognizes commonalities. Without this part you are by default alone.
The Po of the Lung is about distinguishing yourself from the group. This is also called the Corporeal Soul, and it is the part of the psyche that is the first to be destroyed in death because fo the last breath that occurs when we die. It is the Po that gives you the ability to say that you are you and I am me and that is okay. Without the Po there would be no individuality to speak of, and humans as a species could perhaps verge onto a hive-type mind.
So why is all this important? Because one of the parts of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture is the ability to correct the balance between these five aspects of the human mind. For example: if the Po and Hun are out of balance then the person will either be unable to form relationships or the relationships will be so deep that the person changes drastically depending on who they are with regardless of their own individual choice. If the person is having trouble at school or work then the Yi might need some help with its function.
Most certainly, the interactions of these five parts of the mind along with the emotions can produce and extremely complex array of disorders and mental diseases. All of which are far to complicated to be included in this simple article.
It is actually through the understanding of these five mental components that a good acupuncturist can treat things like depression, addiction, mental illness, madness, and virtually anything pertaining to the mind itself.
Personally and professionally, I will only help a person with any kind of mental issue if they are under the care of mental health professional, especially if that person is under the influence of some sort of addiction. I can help to correct the proverbial “hardware” and “software” issues that might be plaguing the patient, but it is the training and knowledge of a psychiatrist that will help the patient to use who and what they are most effectively.
So to sum up: acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have for thousands of years been treating mental conditions in people with large amounts of success. In the modern world this should be done in tandem with a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist. Once the Shen, Zhi, Yi, Hun, and Po are in an appropriate dynamic balance then mental health can be achieved.
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