Yi and Zhi: Intellect And Will Affect the Kidneys
Mar 04, 2013 02:24PM
By Donald Kimon Lightner, LAc
In Chinese medicine, we relate one’s intellect, or yi, to the spleen. Yi enables us to be analytical and objective. When the yi is out of balance, one might become obsessive or worrisome, finding it often very difficult to quiet one’s thoughts. The will, or zhi, is related to the kidneys in Chinese medicine and controls our volition and determination. When the zhi is weak, one might experience anxiety or insecurities and find it difficult to find motivation and deliberate on choices, becoming fearful and timid. So, how do the Yi and zhi become out of balance, and what can we do to bring them back into balance?
The best way to ensure a healthy spleen is through diet, which is really a part of a total lifestyle, so diet does not only refer to what we put into our mouth, but what and how we consume. Everyone is different, so some people can handle things that others cannot. Eating foods which are easier to digest, which means cooked, seasonal, whole foods cause less strain on our system, assuring better health. If it comes in a box, it is not real food.
Taking time to eat, eating quietly and not eating while working, watching TV or talking with someone that takes a lot of energy enables our body to concentrate on properly digesting and assimilating our food. We need to pay attention to what we consume and what we feed our mind. Stressful entertainment, a friend’s troubles and our own decisions weigh on our mind, causing unnecessary worry and anxiety. A Zen teacher once said, “Buying the airline ticket a month in advance is living in the moment.” In other words, don’t procrastinate—just get things done and don’t stretch yourself too thin.
Too much is what weakens the kidneys. Too much work, too much exertion, too much sexual activity, too much stress and not enough sleep and downtime deplete our kidney essence, yin energy and yang energy. While its natural for the kidneys to decline as we age, we can still slow the process.
Meditation, contemplative prayer, gardening, yoga, t’ai chi, qigong, hiking in the canyon or another activity or non-activity where we can be introspective and quiet helps to recharge the kidneys. Also, receiving regular acupuncture can be an immense help in restoring balance and optimizing our organ’s functions, thus making us more productive, happier, calmer and more interactive with the world around us.
Donald Kimon Lightner, Lac, a Zen Buddhist monk, has been in private practice for 13 years in Tucson. He graduated from the Arizona School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, where he is now an instructor and the academic and clinic dean.