Lungs & Large Intestine

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Most people are likely aware of the function of our lungs. Quite simply, they are what we use to BREATHE and, you know, live. But do you know the energetic & emotional effects our lungs & large intestine have on our being? Do you know about these meridians? Well, you’re about to find out.

First, a recap on our MERIDIANS (or: energy lines) in general:

Our meridians are energetic rivers that run through our body. They carry blood, QI & other information through our entire body and link up with each of our organs. These meridians transmit & transport energy to the organs they are directly connected to and well, everywhere else, because everything is connected.

Want to know more about meridians? Click here.

Our lungs & large intestine meridians are a yin/yang pair. Lungs are YIN, because they are more passive and are a vital organ that are a little more hidden away, they are protected by our ribcage. Large Intestine are YANG, because it fills and empties, it’s more of a ‘doing’ organ as it sorts through what we need to keep and what we don’t.

Let’s talk about the lungs first.

Physically, our lungs help us to maintain healthy immune defences, guard against pathogens and help us to circulate Qi (energy) and fluids throughout the body. When we breathe in we are taking in energy (oxygen) from the air around us and our lungs work intuitively to keep this (which is then circulated in our blood), and expel carbon dioxide (which is essentially waste). During a yin yoga practice I often feel the urge to offer a big exhaling sigh. This is a great way to release any stored up energy or carbon dioxide that I don’t need. It’s very cleansing.

Emotionally, our lungs are where we experience and hold sadness & grief. It’s also where we hold gratitude, which can be thought of as the balm for grief. I think it’s really important to understand that grief and sadness are things that we NEED to feel, just like any other emotion. They may not always be comfortable, but we need to experience them, move through them and let them have their space. Gratitude can help us put a more joyful tinge over our grief, it can help us to see & experience things differently, not to erase the stuff we perceive to be ‘bad’.

Our lungs work with several major muscle groups and an important one is the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a big muscle that sits just below the rib cage. It deflates (or flattens) as we inhale and expands as we exhale. The function of the diaphragm is to help our lungs expand and contract. It tells our brain when we need to breathe in or breathe out. It also helps us to move organs in our abdomen, like our stomach, liver and large intestine.

Our lungs are associated with the METAL element, they create integrity and a strong structure for the rest of our body.

An imbalance within the energy of our lungs can lead us to feel:

· Disappointment

· Anxiety

· Grief

· Despair

· Shame

· Sorrow

Balance here (and in the large intestine) can lead us to feel:

· Integrity

· Higher Self-Esteem

· Gratitude

· Ease of Being

Alrighty, let’s look at the Yang side to this equation, the large intestine.

Our large intestine controls the transformation of digestive wastes from liquids to solid states and moves them outwards. While most fluid extraction happens in our small intestine, some of it does happen in the large intestine. It lets waste go and keeps fluids/water that we need.

If either of these organs aren’t working optimally there might be more water going out in our waste (eg, diarrhoea). Or it might go the other way, so if there’s an imbalance here we may experience sluggish bowels, diarrhoea, constipation or abdominal pain. Basically, our large intestine helps us absorb electrolytes, vitamins and water, and it works in the formation and elimination of waste.

Emotionally, the large intestine is similar to our lungs. If there is an imbalance, we may experience physical weakness, emotional introversion, lower self-esteem or apathy (no strong feelings one way or the other).

So, how can we effect our meridians and become empowered to heal ourselves? My go-to is yin yoga or a good long walk. The lung & large intestine meridians are most effected in yin when we work the arms, shoulders and upper body. Generally, the lung (yin) line runs on the inside of the arm, and the large intestine (yang) line runs on the outside of the arm. Both go into the organs.

Yin yoga gives you space to experience your emotions. To sit with them and notice what’s coming up so that you can deal with stuff that has been pushed down and held for too long. It gives you space to notice when things change.

In this practice (or any mindful exercise practice really) we have a choice to keep holding on, to struggle or to surrender and start the process of letting go.

It’s not always easy, but it’s almost always worth it.

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