The Role of Stomach and Spleen in Creation of The Self
Through the process of metabolism we are continually recreating ourselves. The food we ingest, after undergoing a transformative process, becomes part of us. Protein becomes flesh, carbohydrates become energy, the chlorophyll of plants becomes our blood. This is a necessary, almost magical, alchemical process occurring every day. Like transforming lead into gold, our digestive ‘Fire’ transforms foreign substance into something that is precious to Us; QI and Blood. Internal alchemy utilizes the unconscious, natural digestive capacity, consciously, to sustain life.
This is the basic notion of QI representing all phenomenon; Immaterial, creating material. Between these two states is the realm of the mental and emotional – The expression of interaction between Jing and Shen; Essence and Spirit, respectively. Basic metabolic theory explains food & air as raw materials. Food that we put into our stomachs, stoked by ‘alchemical Fire,’ generates ‘separating of the turbid from pure,’ and thus, refinement into usable essence.
The stomach is the basis of post-natal life force. Psychologically, the stomach is the origin of feeling. Our emotions are a mode by which our Shen expresses itself. Worry and unproductive thought [aspects attributed to stomach and spleen at their detriment] can disturb the physiology of conversion and assimilation in the digestive process. Psychologically, through thought, the Spleen provides context to situations. It writes the tone of the story we tell ourselves about our place in society, how we reflect upon ourselves, our families, our bodies and beliefs. [The Stomach pertains to the emotional aspects of the Earth energy, and the Spleen to the mental.] Spleen ‘banks’ the blood. Banking of blood creates the boundaries of our lives; The borders within which we live, creating social context and the beginning of our definition of ourselves and our place in the world. The Tao is the way of nature. Nature comprehends balance and harmony, as we too inherently possess this wisdom. Our primary channels flow by the ways of the Tao. By learning how our social psyche develops, we begin to consciously change aspects which make us unwell. May we flow with our powerful capacity to understand ourselves and find our way in balance.
This is a significantly extrapolated version of the insightful article by Nicholas Sieben, Lic.Ac., derived from teachings by Jeffrey Yuen.