Happy Friday! I'm sure many of you are looking forward to the weekend after the first full school week. As we know, the weekend is the time to let loose the stress of the week; so on that note, we're shining a spotlight on one of our favorite herbal medicinals: He Huan Pi (Cortex Albiziae/Mimosa Tree Bark).
He Huan Pi resides in the category of "herbs that nourish the heart and calm the spirit." It is sweet and neutral, and enters the heart and liver meridians. This means that it is strengthening, harmonizing, and can be used for a wide variety of emotional imbalances. It primarily functions to calm the spirit and relieve constraint - meaning it helps us
RELEASE CONSTRAINED EMOTIONS
Its secondary function is to move blood, which can help with pain and inflammation (meaning it's the perfect herb for when you turn into a rage monkey after stubbing your toe!)
All kidding aside - this is one of my favorite herbs to put in formulas, so allow me to explain why.
As a society, we're conditioned to believe that feeling and showing emotion is a sign of weakness and immaturity. This construct couldn't be further from the truth; in fact emotional resistance/repression is extremely damaging to our psyches and our bodies.
Some of you may think that resisting emotions means you've rid yourself of emotions; but what you resist will persist. Emotions are just another form of energy, and energy needs to move. When you resist and repress emotions, they don't go away - they simply become stagnate in your psyche; they take root and spread like weeds. With time, these emotional weeds will manifest in a myriad of ways, which can throw your entire being out of balance. Weakened immunity, mood swings, shortened tempers, generalized anxiety, depression, insomnia, indigestion, inflammation, tension, pain, addiction etc. - these can all be attributed (at least in part) to unresolved emotional energy. Stagnated emotional energy can also exacerbate and facilitate a host of chronic diseases, a phenomenon that the field of psychoneuroimmunology studies and researches.
The answer is to not resist emotions, but to dance with them - to not attempt to control them, nor allow yourself to be controlled by them. It means allowing yourself to feel your emotions fully, deeply, and mindfully, thus allowing them to move through you. Doing so allows you to discern (not judge) the information your emotions are trying to convey, and this ultimately helps you cultivate both self-awareness and universal awareness.
I know this is an incredibly geeky analogy, but if you saw the first Star Trek reboot in 2009, you may recall the scene in which Spock is talking to his father about repressing his emotions. Spock believes that Vulcans are devoid of emotion, but Sarek informs him that the truth is quite the opposite. Vulcans feel, perhaps more deeply that humans do, so they must learn to control them. Sadly, after the death of his mother, Spock learns that controlling his emotions is not possible either. Eventually, Spock discovers the middle path; he learns that the answer is to allow himself to feel emotions while applying logic to them - he learns to feel with mindfulness. This is exactly what we, as humans, must learn to do.
Learning to work with emotional energy this way can be difficult, especially when we're programmed to do the exact opposite. This is where the magic of He Huan Pi comes in - it first acts like a catalyst to help us release constrained emotional energy. When first using this herb, it's not uncommon to feel intense emotional releases in the form of heavy sighs, heat waves followed by coolness, mild sweating episodes, temporary fatigue, even spontaneous weeping or crying.
The good news is that once we've released the backed up energy, we can move forward in a dynamic dance with our emotions, so their effects aren't as intense. We learn to feel mindfully and He Huan Pi becomes a partner that helps us harmonize our emotional experiences.
Nevertheless, herbal medicinals are never meant to replace inner work. There is no pill or herb that will do your work for you for any imbalance. To make the best use of He Huan Pi, you must pair it with your own emotional work; whether it be therapy, mindfulness training, meditation, or journaling, etc.
So, my dear ones, remember that your emotions are meant to be your dance partners. Let them flow through you, like water. And until next time....Live Long, and Prosper!