Each Yin organ ‘houses’ a particular spiritual aspect of a human being collectively these are referred to as the ‘Five Shen’.
This is also often translated as the ‘Five Spirits’ or vital organ intelligence’s embodied in our heart, liver, lungs, spleen and kidneys.
- Mind (Shen) – Heart
- Ethereal Soul (Hun) – Liver
- Corporeal Soul (Po) – Lungs
- Intellect (Yi) – Spleen
- Will-Power (Zhi) – Kidneys
The Shen represents the forces that shape our personality including mental and spiritual aspects. The connection between the Five Shen and the vital organs is a staple of Chinese medicine, and dates to the earliest medical texts of the Yellow Emperor Internal Classic in 215 BCE.
The Nature of the Mind (Shen 神)
The Shen of the Heart is translated as ‘Mind’ rather than Spirit. The Mind is responsible for thinking, memory, consciousness, insight, emotional life, cognition, sleep, intelligence, wisdom and ideation.
The Mind is responsible for self-consciousness and the integration of various parts of our psyche. It is the Mind (and Heart) that can ‘feel’ the emotions. Each emotion affects one or more organs but it is only the Mind that actually recognises, feels and assesses them.
Methods that connect a person to their Heart Shen can provide the opportunity to realise
knowledge, inspiration, wisdom, and guidance regarding the unity of life.
Thinking (or cognition) depends on the Shen. If the Shen is strong, thinking will be clear. If the Shen is weak or disturbed, thinking will be slow and dull.
A flourishing Shen is reflected as a settled mind and clear thinking.
The Ethereal Soul (Hun 魂)
The Ethereal Soul is another level of consciousness, different from the Mind but closely related to it. The Ethereal Soul contributes to the mental activities of the Mind (Shen) by providing it with ideas, intuition, images and creativity.
The Ethereal Soul enters the body 3 days after birth; at death, it survives the body and returns to ‘Heaven’. It influences our capacity for planning our life and giving it a sense of direction.
This activity of the Ethereal Soul depends on its ‘coming and going’. If the Liver is flourishing the Ethereal Soul is firmly rooted and can help us to plan our life with vision, wisdom and creativity.
On a psychic level, the Ethereal Soul gives us ‘vision’ and insight.
The Corporeal Soul (Po 魄)
The Corporeal Soul (Po) resides in the Lungs and is the physical counterpart of the Ethereal Soul. It is formed 3 days after conception and is closely related to the Essence (Jing).
The Corporeal Soul is related to our life as individuals.
It is responsible for all physiological processes; it is the ‘soul’ that animates all physiological activities. It is responsible for breathing and acuity of the sense organs. It gives us the capacity of sensation, feeling, hearing and sight.
It also plays a role in our emotional life and is affected by all emotions, especially pensiveness, worry, grief and sadness. These emotions ‘constrict’ the Po, creating a Lung-Qi stagnation in the chest.
When the Po is imbalanced, focus is directed on the desire for physical and self-pleasure. A balanced Po seeks a healthy expression of enjoying the physical body.
The Intellect (Yi 意)
The Intellect (Yi) resides in the Spleen and is responsible for applied thinking, studying, memorising, focusing, concentrating and generating ideas. The Spleen is involved in issues of nourishment, on both a physical and psychic level.
The relationship between the Intellect (Yi) of the Spleen and the Mind (Shen) of the Heart is very close. Yi governs personal opinions, thoughts, obsession, and knowledge translating into words.
A strong Yi can take over a weak Shen.
The Yi processes our life experiences; it organises, categorises, filters, and makes sense of our experiences.
If the Spleen is affected by pensiveness and worry it may generate obsessive thinking. For example, a very intelligent person may be able to verbalize knowledge, but may find it difficult to translate that knowledge into practical action.
Yi can be thought of as the Qi aspect of the Spirit. The condition of our Yi, which includes the way we perceive, experience, and process life, influences the Hun, Po, Zhi, and Shen.
The Willpower and Memory (Zhi 志)
The spirit of the Kidneys is called the Zhi, and it rules the will, drive, ambition, and the survival instinct. This includes the will and power to follow one’s destiny.
The Kidneys, water, and Zhi contain a blueprint of life, or a destiny code. Allowing the Zhi to unfold is fulfilling one’s destiny.
The Willpower (Zhi) must be coordinated with the Mind (Shen). The Willpower is the basis for the Mind and the Mind directs the Willpower.
If the Mind is clear in its aims and plans, and the Willpower is strong, then the person will have the drive to pursue goals.
Supporting the Five Shen with Kinesiology
The Five Shen are an example of the ancient Chinese awareness of the unity of the body, mind, and spirit.
It is important to view the Five Shen as five aspects of one Shen (a person).
One of the underlying principles of acupoint selection in applying acupressure is that each point on a channel has a unique effect on the Organ, much like each hole on a flute produces a different note.
It is easy to suggest that it is important to treat the client at the ‘spirit level’, but reaching the level of spirit is not always possible.
This information is essential in developing an appropriate treatment plan.
Often the emotional, psychological, and spiritual condition reveals areas of life that a person needs to understand in order to grow. It is common for a person to act in a way that causes the imbalances to be expressed in their life; this expression may be necessary to bring awareness of the condition.
The awareness provides an opportunity to bring consciousness of the situation and begin a path of change and transformation.
Learning these pathways is the key to understanding how to apply effective corrections in clinical practice.
Ready to learn more?
Five Element BioEergetics II: Spiritual Pathways of Qi brings a vision and understanding of how to assess and treat the roots of an imbalance, whether on a body, mind or spirit level.
A key feature of this course is harmonising the Five Shen (Spiritual Qi) and in turn creating a new and deeper level of integration between the client’s biology, psychology, and spirituality.