Tightness in the heart is caused by impatience, hastiness, hatred, cruelty, and even the bad kind of pride. Breathing can become difficult, blood flow is constricted as the vessels of the body tighten to match the tightness of the heart. The chest can sink in as the heart contracts. The chest can even puff out if the stuck energy of the heart stays there.
Soft and easy, light and clear is the heart’s natural state. Taoist medicine considers the heart The Emperor. The organ that sits on it throne, protected behind the sternum. It’s ministers perform its duties, sending messages to the far reaches of its body-realm. If the Emperor is bitter and corrupt, the empire will be bitter and corrupt. All messages flowing out to the body-empire and to the world will taste like sour grapes.
The fire element, governed by the heart, is the only element that has four meridians to handle its energy—the other elements have two apiece. If the heart’s fire element can’t find a balance of warm and slow-burning embers, it will burn to bright and burn out. Or, it will burn to dim and –poof—go out with a little puff of smoke. To reduce tension in the heart will inspire self-confidence and ease. It will reinstate the love, patience, and joy that is the heart’s natural state.
Use one finger to spiral down the sternum from the top to the tip of the xiphoid process. Exhaling the heart sound—HAAAA—and breathing slowly and deeply with the hands resting on the chest will release excess heat from the heart. Rolling the shoulders, hugging oneself, and turning side to side will loosen the spine at the back of the heart. Smile to your home, hug your pet, do something nice for a neighbor and love your family. The heart will relax and keep your body full of love and peace.