The heart holds a special place in Chinese philosophy. We could learn a few things about love by looking at how the ancient Chinese regarded the heart:
It’s the center of “mind”
The word heart (xin) is often translated as heart-mind, as the heart is thought to be the center of mental activity even more so than the brain! Ancient traditions understood that the mind is not just in the brain, but in the whole body. We may think thoughts are racing through our brain, but the mind – which encompasses thought, as well as feeling – is experienced throughout the body, and the heart is the center of it all.
It’s considered the “emperor” of the body
Ancient Chinese called the heart the emperor (or empress) of the body. Being at the center of the chest and pushing blood throughout all parts of the body, it fills us with life, awareness, movement, and action. In our western world, the brain gets a lot of attention (many might consider it the emperor of their body), but what if the heart was the one calling the shots in our day-to-day action and not the brain? Would life look different? It would probably look a little less anxious, a little more peaceful.
The Chinese character for heart is the shape of an empty bowl. This is how our heart works best: open to the world and empty of judgement.
It understands boundaries
When the heart is sick, we may find ourselves without purpose, chaotic, and confused. With no “emperor” the body has no one to keep you on the path that is most meaningful for you.
It’s associated with the element of fire
The heart embodies the elemental qualities of fire most strongly: warmth, laughter, enthusiasm, connection and playfulness.
May your Valentine’s Day be filled with the virtues of the heart!