Integrative Medicine Blog

The Spirit of Giving in Light of The Su Wen (an Ancient Chinese Text)

Rebecca Rice L.Ac., MSAOM Thursday, December 13, 2018

Using the "stress" of the holidays to let go.

The holiday season carries a sense of elation and joy for many people. It can also evoke stress as we consider the list of things we feel the need to do or gifts we feel we must purchase for friends and family. This type of stress can lead our thoughts to become rattled from mental churning, forming an inventory of ‘wants’, desires and a sense of loneliness for some.

According to the Su Wen chapter 44, an historical Chinese medical text,

  • ‘If obsessive thoughts carry on indefinitely and one does not succeed in getting what one aspires to, then the intent is scattered uncontrollably outwards’

Put in other words, our spirit of giving, can create a sense of detachment as the churning of thoughts in the form of buying excessively takes us outside of ourselves, leading to a sense of dis-ease and a lack of centeredness. When we center our happiness on external things our sense of self is altered and therefore measured against something external, something which we cannot control.

According to the Su Wen, emotions and thoughts shape the inner disposition of the heart, which in turn is played out in our actions and reactions to everyday circumstances. This of course occurs all year round, and as we are pulled towards external things at anytime of year it is important to solidify one’s own ‘inner disposition.’ We can do this by quieting the mind with contemplation, meditation, exercise, being in nature or anything that brings you closer to joy, to your Self, and centeredness.

Interestingly, Wintertime is the season of greatest Yin and therefore the prime time for introspection; which sheds light on the inner workings of our heart and deepest sense of being. As we embark on this festive time of year, try to take pleasure in giving by also giving attention to and nurturing your Self. This way, the delight you give to others comes from a joyous heart!