All posts by john@acupressure.com.au

Season Travel

I was recently invited by my publisher Singing Dragon Press to write a blog as part of their marking of World Acupuncture Day on November 15th. As is my usual way of working, I chose to write about the current season. The wrinkle is that the current season in London where Singing Dragon is based is winter, while I am inhabiting summer in the Adelaide Hills.

Therefore it was an interesting exercise to write about winter and the Water Element without feeling its manifestations around me. It required a kind of inner travel to the cold, wet, dark of the northern winter where nature’s energy is shrinking, folding in on itself and withdrawing within. All this while experiencing warmth, brightness and energetic expansion as my sensory experience.

It took a few days of contemplating this polarity before, quite unexpectedly one day, the winter muse led me to the computer and poured out a Watery musing on the nature of fear. I was transported to the bleak winter landscapes of the UK and the resonances of that season.  It was not easy to hold the dual experiences of outer summer and inner winter, but it did work. I wonder if I was tuning into that same discombobulation that occurs when we physically transport ourselves to the opposite hemisphere and season. One of the ways of working with that seasonal upheaval is to hold points of the Element to which you are travelling, pulling yourself forward to your destination in a seasonal rebalance. While I didn’t actually hold Water points on myself when doing the inner season travel, my conscious focus on the qualities of winter and Water had a similar effect.

The blog is now the property of Singing Dragon so I can’t repeat it here, but you can read it at this link, whatever your hemispherical condition.

Finding Wisdom in Water’s Depths

Doorway to Insight

Gall Bladder 14 ~ Yangbai ~ Yang White

A few weeks ago, in the middle of the night, I walked into a door. I was going to the bathroom and in the fog of sleep, missed my bearings and barrelled headlong into a door jamb. The shock was immense, the pain intense. I was left with a lasting headache, neck stiffness and a cut-bruise above my left eye.

When I surveyed the damage the next morning, I realised that the encounter with the door had left a neat round red dot just below the acupoint Gall Bladder 14. Which left me pondering the significance of this particular point. To start with, it’s spring time here, season of the Wood Element. Then I realised that the time was about midnight which is the time when the high tide of Qi moves through the Gall Bladder channel. And add to that it was lack of vision that caused the accident and vision is the sense of Wood.

Correspondences were piling up.

When a number of the resonances of an Element coincide, it is often an indication that an Element is calling for attention. So what was my Gall Bladder Official calling on me to see? I went to my library to review the significant uses of Gall Bladder 14. One of the sentences that resonated with me was from the Acupuncture Point Compendium:

Yang Bai: Good for Wood constitution types whose spirit needs encouraging into action or who are in a muddle; they have a plan but are failing to firm it up and move on… The clarity which this point brings is emphasised.” Indeed, clarity is embedded in the point’s name: while one translation of bai is white, another meaning is clear.

It’s true that I’m much better at making plans than carrying them out. Our constitutional Element seems to gift us with a mix of strengths and challenges that relate to that Element. I can come up with all kinds of ideas but I’m slow to make the firm decisions that are needed to put them into action. It seems my unconscious was bringing this lesson home in a very firm way.

Upon reflection, there are a number of things on my to-do list that have been there for a long time. The certificate program for my students, making videos to promote classes, changes to my website. These are all about moving forward with my work in the world. Could it be that I was being whacked over the head so I’d get the message to get my finger out?

Another indication for Gall Bladder 14 is that it clears wind. Not the kind that embarrasses you in public, but wind that is climate of Wood and which can invade the body. When there is wind invasion, the result can be headaches, neck stiffness, and jerking and shaking conditions like Restless Leg Syndrome. In my case I’ve had a lifelong susceptibility to wind invasion, and headaches have never been far away.

But in the four weeks since my whack on the head, I’ve noticed that I’ve been much less troubled by wind, even though it is spring when I’m most susceptible. For five days after the collision I had a stiff neck and headache, as if I’d had a small car accident. But on the sixth day I noticed that the pain and stiffness had gone. In fact my neck has since felt better and more flexible than it has in years. What’s more the whole experience has prompted me to focus more on following through on projects and moving into action.

It seems the bodymind has an intelligence that is below consciousness. It provides information to us in dreams, in intuitions, and if we don’t pay enough attention, it can find a dramatic way to bring the information to us. Bringing awareness to the threads of the fabric of our lives can offer guidance. And the Five Element model offers us a framework that can provide connection and meaning to things that may seem otherwise unrelated.

Location of Gall Bladder 14

 

 

On the forehead, 1 cun above the middle of the eyebrow , directly above the pupil when the eye is looking straight ahead.

 

 

To find more about the resonances of the Elements, I recommend my book
The Way of the Five Seasons

Wood Work

Spring is here again. I know this not just from the calendar, the change in temperature, the blossoms on trees, lambs frolicking and all that. I know it from my bodymind.

To start with, I feel an irresistible urge to tend to my compost pile which has been languishing, cold and stagnant over winter. Yesterday I dug out tools from the shed and turned it all over into the sunshine to dry out and aerate. Getting into the mood, I weeded and fertilised the peas and garlic. Before long I’d lost track of time as I cheerfully tended to tasks I’d been shirking all winter. What was happening? Spring’s Wood energy was rising up my body, fuelling action.

Another way I know it’s spring is that my liver and gall bladder are talking to me again. I feel a slight pressure in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, my liver reminding me that I ate too much gluten and dairy when I travelled interstate last week. Chiming in is gall bladder, giving the occasional squeak as it squirts bile into the duodenum. These are the organs of Wood which can manifest symptoms when this Element isn’t balanced. For someone of a Wood constitution like me, these organs are particularly susceptible. They are a source of information for monitoring my health.

At a recent course I taught, one of the students was having a challenging time around these organs. During several treatments, he experienced a strong vibrating sensation in the upper right quadrant which we tracked to the acupoint Liver 13. This is the alarm point for Spleen but it also reflects the Liver itself. The student revealed that he was going through a significant stage, one requiring a pivotal decision about the fundamental direction of his work life. He also noticed that working on Liver points on another person triggered these same sensations in his own body. And when it came time to make a firm decision in the days after the course, the sensations became extreme.

The capacities of planning and decision making are the province of the Liver and Gall Bladder Officials respectively. This person’s physical symptoms were reflecting what was happening at the psycho-emotional level. And all of this was arising in the springtime when Wood energy is at its highest. There is a long tide which moves around the Five Element Cycle over the course of a year, the high tide passing through the corresponding Element of the season and pushing up against anything that isn’t harmonised. Like a high tide that strains boats whose anchors are too tightly set.

There are a number of other signals that can indicate that Wood is out of balance. These derive from the resonances of the Element. The following table shows some of these resonances of the Wood Element.

Season Spring
Climate Wind
Colour Green
Sound Shouting
Odour Rancid
Emotion Anger
Taste Sour
Sense Vision
Sense Organ Eyes
Yin Organ Liver
Yang Organ Gall Bladder
Tissue Tendons/Ligaments

These resonances are vibrations. For example, spring is the Wood Element vibrating as a season while anger is Wood vibrating as an emotion. When our Wood is out of balance, we may find that our bodymind shows the imbalance through these resonances. Here are some ways this might be revealed:

• Getting sick at the start of spring
• A strong dislike of wind
• Feelings of irritability or outbursts of anger
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Difficulty making plans
• Difficulty making decisions
• Aversion to or craving for sour foods
• Visual disturbances or other eye problems
• Easily nauseated by fatty food
• Congestion in the upper right of the abdomen
• Headaches, especially at the back of the head
• Neck and shoulder stiffness or pain
• Hip and outer leg pain
• Tight tendons
• Stiff joints
• Restlessness, can’t keep still

If you find that you have several of these conditions, your bodymind may be showing you that Wood is calling for attention. These symptoms can appear at any time, but they are more likely to show up in spring when the high tide of the Wood phase pushes up against things that are out of balance. The good news is that by addressing them in the spring, you will have the support of the ambient energy of nature. Here are some ways to work with your Wood.

Add more green foods to your diet: kale and other leafy greens, broccoli, peas and so on. The darker green the better. Eat more foods that are sour in taste: lemon, lime, grapefruit, sauerkraut and other fermented food.

Detoxify. The liver is responsible for cleansing the body of toxins. Doing a liver cleanse by eating simple foods and taking cleansing herbs will be well supported in the springtime. If you’ve been thinking of doing a gall bladder flush, then spring is the best time to do it.

Move. Wood likes to move so get plenty of movement. Walk, hike, run, jump, skip, ride, row, garden, build… whatever makes you feel good in your body. Make sure to stretch before leaping into action.

Shout! Sometimes when Wood is stuck, movement is not enough to dislodge the congestion. Shouting can discharge the energy that has been suppressed. Shout into the wind or in your car on the freeway. Don’t shout at others.

Explore your anger. Most of us learn from an early age that anger is a bad thing because it hurts others. But suppressed anger becomes stored in the body, specifically in the liver, and then starts to hurt us. Anger is seen as bad because it is equated with violence. But anger is not violence. It is the frustration that can arise from operating in a world of limits and boundaries. Try to understand why you are angry. Feel that anger without suppressing it and without venting it. The energy that you get in touch with can be powerful fuel for action.

Hold some acupressure points. Any points that relate to the Liver (LV) and Gall Bladder (GB) will be useful and are more powerful at this time of year. Here are links to some good points discussed in previous blogs:

Acupoint Some Uses
LV 1 Calms restlessness, agitation. The Wood point, it deeply supports the Element.
LV 3 Treats allergies, fatigue, nausea, eyes, irritability. Supports immune system.
LV 13 Promotes smooth flow of Liver Qi, relieves abdominal distension.
LV 14 For vomiting, rib pain, depression, hopelessness.
GB 1 Treats eye pain, migraines, lack of clarity.
GB 15 Treats headache, eye pain, confusion, lack of perspective. Eliminates wind.
GB 20 Treats headache, neck pain, irritability. Eliminates wind.
GB 21 Treats anxiety, irritability, hypertension, headaches, shoulder stiffness.
GB 30 For lower back and hip problems, sciatica, stiff joints, irritability, frustration.
GB 34 Master point for tendons and ligaments. Timidity, headache, hypertension.
GB 41 Relieves headache, sciatica, frustration, indecision.
BL 47 Supports psycho-emotional and spiritual aspects of Wood.
GV 16 Eliminates wind, treats headache, stiff neck, colds and flu, fever.

And finally, use the uprising energy of the Wood season to make plans for the future. See where you are going, map out your path, plan the stages of the journey, decide how to get there and take the first step. Your inner Wood will provide you with the gifts of imagination, creativity, vision, wise judgement, and motivation to help you on your path.

Go boldly!

For more suggestions on working with your Wood, see that chapter of my book
The Way of the Five Seasons.