Feeling angry? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. As we continue to live through a global pandemic the truth is most of us do not live our lives in perfect harmony. Liver qi stagnation is a term we use in acupuncture to refer to feeling stuck, suppressing emotions and ultimately seeing red! Qi is pronounced ‘chee’ and we aren’t referring to the liver as we know it, that metabolic wonder organ that decontaminates, builds proteins and so much more. In acupuncture, liver qi stagnation is a term for when we suppress our emotions and become tense, and liver fire or fire rising is when our emotions manifest as rage.
What does liver qi stagnation look like?
When we feel stressed or upset we naturally look for anything that will help with the symptoms. In a ‘primitive brain’ kind of way we may turn to things that aren’t good for us such as smoking, drinking or drugs to get going, disinhibit or relax. We could also start obsessively shopping or gambling. But liver qi stagnation can also manifest as working all hours, becoming more and more stressed and experiencing pain and gut complications. All of these are showing that we are suppressing an emotion we feel we need to hide such as anger, depression, shame or grief. We call this liver qi stagnation. As it stagnates it can heat up and then explode, transforming into liver fire, manifesting as anger or a migraine and overwhelming our system. If it isn’t released it can block us in other ways, changing how we move, think and cause depression, tension and pain. I always recommend that patients work with a therapist, but there are also some things we can do in acupuncture to help restore balance and make space for free-flow.
What is free-flow?
We all recognise free-flow when it’s working. We can see it in others and sometimes feel it in ourselves. Free-flow is sleeping soundly, waking full of joy, feeling fit and healthy,; laughing and crying appropriately, never shouting nor resenting. It is putting your plans into action, effortlessly managing our lives, families, friends, the house or our jobs. Dancing like a pro, being creative, talented and happy. Without free flow we get tense, we procrastinate, our neck and shoulders hurt, we sigh and yawn, becoming constipated, dancing like a broken robot and yelling at our partners or children
What are the five things you can do to restore balance?
In terms of health, so much is related to allowing space in our lives for liver qi stagnation and fire rising to move on, (while creating space for free-flow if we can allow ourselves space to ‘move’ liver qi, we can prevent stagnation and quench the fire! These five things are things that you can practise at home, helping to move the qi and restore balance:
3. Physical exercise, including dancing and sex
5. Deep breathing
If you’re feeling yourself getting angry or feeling stressed, try asking yourself whether this will matter in 5 minutes or even count down from five. This little break can provide some calm space for us to think a bit more rationally.