Many Chinese communities all over the world celebrate the Chinese New Year this week and welcome the year of the horse.

A short recap:
According to ancient Chinese philosophy, there are two main cycles in nature representing the order of the universe. The first is a cycle of 10 (“stem”) and the second, a cycle of 12 (“branch”).

Within the great 12 year cycle, every year is represented by a sign that symbolizes the characteristic of that year, much like the famous zodiac known in the west.

Each branch, in addition to its correspondence to an animal, has a deep relationship with an organ in the body. It is important to keep in mind that an “organ” in Chinese Medicine is a wider term than it is in Western Medicine: there is the physical organ and physical function, and it also includes its meridian, and its emotional and spiritual functions.

This year is the year of the horse and the corresponding ‘organ’ is the heart.

In many ancient cultures and philosophies the horse represents something very spiritual relating to Life force, freedom, and a spirituality and bond connecting the horse and the warrior.

In the Chinese classics one finds the reference “the heart is the human heart”. From this, we understand that the heart referred to in Chinese medicine is not the muscle pumping blood and driving the animal body. Rather, this thing we call the heart is the home of the spirit. The human spirit. It is this function that has our body working as a whole and complete entity. To do this, its strongest tool is communication. And humans have a unique ability to communicate through words and speech.

So, how can we help our heart function to its full potential?

In the eyes of Chinese medicine, disease forms when a part of the body doesn’t follow the spirit. In other words, we can say that the other organs are not following the rules laid down by the heart. Therefore the heart’s most important task is to communicate with all the other organs, to unite them as one complete system. When this doesn’t happen, disease forms. The heart’s “secret” to great communication is being open and empty. We can think of holism as stemming from the word hole.  A hole is something that is open and accepting to all, empty and free from attachments and judgments. To be a hole will allow us to communicate with our own spirit and with the universal spirit. It is that hole that allows us to become holy.

The key for health, especially during this year of the horse-heart is communication:

  • With ourselves and with our surroundings.
  • Listening to our intuition and inner voice while at the same remaining open to other people’s ideas, needs and feelings.

Isn’t it interesting that the Chinese characters for listening, seeing, and thinking, are all written with the radical heart in them?

Wishing us all unity within ourselves and our community, and a great ride on the year of the horse.

Yuval Blum,