All posts by john@acupressure.com.au

Let Me Sleep On It

When I was a lad, my mother used to tell me that an hour’s sleep before midnight is worth two hours sleep after midnight. No doubt she was trying to curb my teenage tendency to stay up late. Of course I didn’t believe it at the time.

Now I see that this notion echoes the Chinese medicine prescription of going to bed by 11 pm. This is so that we are resting during the time that the high tide of Qi is moving through the Gall Bladder meridian (11 pm to 1 am) and the Liver meridian (1 am to 3 am). It is said that the these organs and channels of the Wood Element like to be horizontal during this time of peak Qi.

Another concept that relates to these meridians is the idea of “sleeping on it”, meaning “I won’t make a decision right now but I’ll sleep on the question or problem and decide tomorrow”. This is excellent advice, for it is the Gall Bladder official that is in charge of decision making. By allowing the passage of time for the high tide of Qi to pass through this functionary of decision making, the answer or solution usually looks clearer the following morning.

A particularly thorny problem or decision may take more than one sleep, but don’t put the decision off too long. Procrastination is the other side of rashness, and both states can be pointing to an imbalance in the Wood Element. A balanced Wood provides us with the capacity for wise judgement followed by considered, appropriate action.

The season of spring, when the high tide of the year’s energy is passing through the Wood phase, can provide us with more than usually significant challenges in the areas of planning, decision making and taking action. If this describes you at the moment, then consider it a call to support your Wood. Go early to bed, eat green and sour foods, take herbs and supplements to gently cleanse the organs of liver and gall bladder. Avoid alcohol and rich, fatty food. Look at the emotion of anger (over-expressed or suppressed) and how that may be injuring these organs. Most of all, Wood likes to move, so get plenty of exercise.

At the level of spirit, the spirit of Wood is the hun, the ethereal soul. During the daytime the hun resides in the eyes, helping us to see how we can best act in alignment with our soul’s direction. But at night the hun descends to the Liver where it organises dreams that are beneficial to our soul. Sleeping soundly during Liver time (1 am to 3 am) is essential to that purpose, while sleep disturbances during that time are pointing to issues that relate to Liver.

All this talk of Liver reminds me of another saying, this time a Russian proverb: “The morning is wiser than the evening.” While I suspect this advice may have something to do with the nocturnal consumption of vodka, it is nevertheless another reminder of the clarity that can arise from just “sleeping on it”.

Midwinter – Midsummer

Primordial Yin and Yang

Where I live, today is the shortest day. The winter solstice. The deepest, most yin point of the year, where shortening pivots to lengthening, contracting to expanding, closing to opening. Our prehistoric ancestors were well aware of this movement in the seasons, building stone circles to measure and celebrate the changes.

Just 10 days ago I was in Scotland in the northern hemisphere where our winter solstice is mirrored by their summer solstice, the polar opposite of our experience. It is difficult in the midst of winter to remember what it is like to be in the midst of summer. Travelling quickly between the two has given me some direct experience of the difference.

This annual passage from winter to summer and back is a profound illustration of the concept of yin and yang, a fundamental principle which underpins Chinese medicine. It is like watching the Earth breathe. In and out. Once a year. Breathing in, the Earth rises to the midsummer; breathing out, it falls to the midwinter. A rhythm whose mirror image plays out in the antipodes. A planetary pas de deux.

We humans are witness to this breath of the Earth but a few score times in our lifespan. Our Neolithic ancestors had even fewer views. Midwinter and midsummer rituals in their stone calendars expressed their awe of this rhythm.

We too can gain much from the observing and marking of these pivots in the year. The cycle of the year provides a template for other cycles in our lives, other movements between yin and yang. Shorter cycles of  month, day and hour; and longer cycles, of life stages and of generations. Being aware and present to these cycles within cycles provides us with guideposts in life. They remind us that change is constant. And at a deeper level, these cycles of time provide the context within which we experience each moment. After all, this moment which we are currently experiencing is all we really have. It is all we really are.

Photo: Maeshowe, neolithic burial chamber, Orkney. The entrance to the tomb is aligned to the midwinter sunrise

Doorways to Emotional Transformation

Towards the end of last year I presented a seminar in three cities, “Acupressure for the Emotions” which focused on the outer shu points of the Bladder meridian. These points are well known in the Five Element tradition for their influence on the psycho-emotional correspondences of the Elements. These same points are also used to address the spiritual level of the person being treated.

By the time I had presented the seminar for the third time, ideas began to surface for an article exploring the relationships between the emotional and spiritual aspects of human nature. Shortly afterwards, as  serendipity would have it, I was invited by the Shiastu Therapy Association of Australia to submit an article to their journal Pointers for the Autumn 2019 edition.

This article explores the connections between emotion and spirit, and posits the view that our emotions are portals to uncovering the deeper, essential aspects of our nature. Indeed,  aspects of our True Nature.

Download the full article here: Portals To Tao