Monday, September 15, 2008

So Cold... So Cold...

A new study has shown that the so-called "cold shoulder" can actually feel quite chilly.

In Chinese medicine, it's understood that emotions can have a very clear physical effect. In fact, emotions are one of the three classical causes of disease (the other two being weather and external trauma - newer Chinese medical concepts include "miscellaneous qi" or "pestilential qi" which roughly correspond to bacteria and viruses).

For instance, grief is said to "consume the qi." If you've ever known someone who was in a major depression, you know this to be true (remember, qi is roughly equivalent to breath or energy). Anger makes the qi rise quickly - if you know someone with an anger problem, you know this is true. What happens? Their face gets red, they start yelling and screaming - all indications that the qi has risen quickly to the upper part of the body and needs to come out.

It should therefore come as no surprise that even other people's emotions can affect you. A particularly devastating type of ostracism put to use during China's ruinous Cultural Revolution was to be "struggled" by your comrades - you would be put in the middle of a circle and made to confess to your various sins against the revolution. To be repeatedly publicly shamed (as well as physically beaten) drove many to suicide or insanity.

The next time you feel like shooting someone an evil look, or yelling obscenities at the guy in the parking lot who just took "your" spot, take a moment to reconsider. Beware of the casual use of insults or bad manners, even if you're "just joking" or "my friends know I'm only kidding". You could really hurt someone, emotionally and physically. The traditional Chinese belief is that the universe has a circular energy - what you put out there eventually comes back to you. So be nice.

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