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HoloSapiens - the TCM "Food as Medicine" Project

In traditional Chinese medicine behavior is not manifested by a single structure (the brain) - as Western medicine suggests - but by the interaction of the internal organ’s emotional aspects. Certain body organs are associated with certain emotions. When one of these organs is disbalanced the emotion that it is associated with it will manifest intensely or repeatedly. Vice versa – if the same emotion is experienced repeatedly or extreme it will eventually disbalance the organ.

The emotion associated with the Lung is sadness. Sadness is easy to recognize emotion that we all distinguish with clarity. Simply said when we are sad we know that we are sad. Attachment on the other hand is difficult to be grasped. We could easily confuse it with the feeling of love or even to be completely unaware of it.

Attachment is not an “official” Lung/Large Intestine emotion like sadness. Yet is it is mentioned by Chinese medicine scholars and specifically assigned to the Lung/Large Intestine partnership. Because it is difficult to be distinguished, defined and counteracted yet it is very harmful and self-destructive I chose to talk about attachment in this post instead of sadness.

What do the Lung and Large Intestine have to do with attachment?

One of the Lung’s functions is to unify and disperse Qi and nutrients throughout the whole body. Through the Lung we inhale “pure Qi” (air) and exhale “dirty Qi”. The pure Qi is mixed with the Qi extracted from the food. This combination of Qi and nutrients is then distributed throughout the body for nourishment. Thus one of the Lung’s physical functions is to unify and disperse.

The emotional equivalent of the Lung’s function to unify and disperse is gathering and letting go. It is absolutely normal to gather things that are important for our sustenance and happiness. It also normal to let them go with ease once they run their course and we do not need them anymore. We can say the same about people. It is normal to surround ourselves with people who love us, take care of us, help us grow, inspire us or simply with whom we have good time with. It is also normal to let go of these people if they become indifferent, or difficult to be around. People with healthy Lungs manage with ease the “gathering and letting go” process. On the other hand people with weak Lungs have difficulty with the letting go part, and manifest attachments.

The Large Intestine (the partner organ of the Lung) has a somewhat similar emotional manifestation. The physical role of the Large Intestine is to help eliminate waste from the body and protect the body from accumulating toxins. Thus the Qi of the Large Intestine needs to constantly move down and forward in order to push the waste out. Thus on a mental level the Large Intestine could be perceived as one’s ability to move forward. A disbalanced Large Intestine could manifest in the opposite – the inability to move forward, attachment.




We have an extensive material about attachment in the Project in the Mentality chapter where we offer suggestions on how to differentiate attachment from love, how to identify different kinds of attachments, and how to counteract them. Visit it here and see if you will find hidden attachment!



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