Founder’s note: Here’s a brief book review from DH contributor, Kimberly Brown. We’re going to be offering a lot more product & service reviews on the site from now on, so Kimberly’s contribution is quite timely! If you follow a link in a review on DH, very often we will get “credit” for your purchase – helping us to expand our offerings here. Thank you!
I recently ran across a book that caught my attention. It’s the type of book that doesn’t necessarily jump out off the shelf at you. Rather it was the type of book that continued to cross my path in conversations, bookstores, and idle thought enough that I finally had to have it. Finally, I got my hands on a copy of the book.
My experience in a nutshell? The material therein transformed the way I approach mental health in my practice. I am glad I took the time to seek out the text!
The book is Transforming Emotions with Chinese Medicine by Yanhua Zhang. Within the confines of Zhang’s textbook, he interprets the seven emotions with clarity and terminology derived from Chinese medicine’s most fundamental philosophies. I would say that he possesses a keen understanding of mental health and outlines ways to achieve harmony for patients. Through the course of his book, it became easier to see how both practitioner and patient can understand the effects of emotions on the physical body and, in turn, learn more adaptive ways to achieve optimum health.
I am a practitioner of Chinese medicine and a poet to boot, so you could say that I enjoy words and how—when placed with appropriate context—words can be used to heal. And as a result of this book, I began to listen more closely to the emotive speech of my patients, finding subtle clues in word choice and body language. As one might imagine, happier patients tended to be healthy and overly angry or sad patients had a tougher time of things. For some of my other patients, emotions quite literally ruled their lives, and they existed timidly in their angry, makeshift worlds.
After observing through Zhang’s transformative lens, my patients and I began to unravel the roots of emotive force and how one could achieve balance in a world that can, at times, be a little heavy-handed.
In various contexts, we discussed topics like the potential effects emotions can have on the physical body, and how if left unchecked some emotions can cause a great deal of harm. We would talk about our own simple observations of emotions in daily routines. We would retrospectively recall instances when emotions flared or when they lingered a bit too long. We talked about techniques to cycle through to more supportive and productive emotions where breathing and concentration methodologies tended to supplement the dialogue.
Most importantly, we placed emphasis on self-awareness and honoring the natural cycles of emotional rhythms.
Patients who used this approach were able to achieve health through a greater awareness of their own emotions. For those patients who were at the mercy of their emotions, these conversations felt like handing them the reins to their own psyche and saying, “Here, Buckaroo, you guide your own horse for a while.” Overall, patient satisfaction improved. If you are in search of well-written strategies to bolster mental health, this text affords such an opportunity.
About Kimberly Brown
Upon returning from my sabbatical, I enrolled into the Classical Chinese Medicine program offered at the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM). I graduated four years later with a Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine—a degree that gives me a solid sense of compassion and a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic nature of health, pathology, and other dualistic patterns of thought. Learn more about Kimberly.