Category Archives: Confusion

Neck Problems Sorted

Tianchuang – Heavenly Window – Small Intestine 16

neck problemI am currently rewriting the manual for my Five Element Acupressure courses. In doing so, I am making a change to one of the points in the palette of 50 points introduced in Level 1. For over 30 years I have been practising and teaching the basic neck release which I learned in the first acupressure class I took in 1985. One of these points, known as the Extra Neck Point, is not a meridian point, and serves as a kind of surrogate for the many other meridian points in the neck. The change I am making is to replace the extra neck point with the meridian point that is anatomically closest to it. This is Small Intestine 16, Tianchuang (Heavenly Window).

The Small Intestine meridian is the go-to meridian for neck and shoulder pain, so it is appropriate to choose the SI point in the middle of the neck. It fits well with two other SI points of the neck and shoulders release, SI 10 and SI 11. It treats neck pain, shoulder pain which radiates to the neck, and stiffness of the neck which causes difficulty in turning the head to the side. Also at the physical level, Tianchuang treats throat pain, loss of voice, lockjaw, deafness, tinnitus and ear pain.

This point is also important as one of the category of points known as the Windows of the Sky, or Windows of Heaven. (The tian part of the name means heaven.) Modern TCM texts tend to prescribe these points to clear congestion in the sense organs, interpreting tian as a reference to the head, rather than anything mystical or spiritual; and disorders where the Qi of the head is in disharmony with the Qi of the body.

Five Element practitioners have come to regard these Windows of Heaven points as also having a deeper psyhoemotional, or even psychospiritual effect. When a person has lost connection to True Nature, that which transcends the body and the small self, then these points are called for. By ‘opening the window’, the client is supported to see beyond the obscurations that have clouded his view. Each Window point is used in the context of the issues of its corresponding official. The primary function of the Small Intestine official, the Sorter, is to sort the pure from the impure. The small intestine organ itself sorts the nutrition from the waste of the food we eat. At a higher level, if we are unable to sort out what is good for us at emotional, psychological and spiritual levels, then Tianchuang can help. Ultimately, the Sorter’s role is to protect the Heart, Emperor of the kingdom. A healthy Sorter knows what is good for us and can therefore be let into the inner sanctum, and what is not good for us and needs to be kept out.

Location of Small Intestine 16

SI 16

 

At the back border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, at the level of the laryngeal prominence (Adam’s apple). If you turn your head to the left against resistance, the muscle on the right side of the neck becomes prominent.

All You Need Is Love

As we move fully into the Fire season of summer, here we look at one of Fire’s greatest gifts: love.

Shanzhong – Within the Breast – Conception Vessel 17

4-17Perhaps more words have been written and spoken about love than any other subject. Certainly it is a major focus in books, movies and popular music. There is no simple definition of love because it has different meanings in different contexts. There are many kinds of love.

We can say we love certain foods like ice cream or chocolate, we love our hobbies or our work, we love our pets, we love our neighbours, we love our family, we love our partner, we love the earth, we love God.

Whichever culture or system you look at, there seems to be universal agreement that love is associated with the heart. Whatever kind of love we are talking about, it is a state that is perceived by and expressed through the heart centre. Love is often experienced as a warm or expansive feeling in the chest. This is a direct experience of the fact that the heart is the primary organ of the Fire Element. The extent to which we are able to feel love, receive love, give love or express love will indicate the health of our Fire.

The Fire point that lies in the very centre of the chest is Shanzhong – Within the Breast. While it lies on the Ren Mai (Conception Vessel), it is the mu or alarm point for the Heart Protector. This is where the shen, the spirit of the Heart resides. It coincides with the heart chakra or heart centre and is the place where we most feel our heart feelings. It is where we feel the pleasurably warm, glowing feeling when we fall in love and also where the pain is felt when our heart is broken.

Shanzhong is a point that activates the shen. It facilitates the communication of feelings from the Heart to the outside and helps to settle the spirit when the person has been exhausted or betrayed by relationships. When the heart has gone cold, it opens the Heart Protector to new possibilities of engagement with others.

At the physical level, this point strongly activates Qi in the chest, affecting both heart and lungs. It treats tightness in the chest, chronic cough and shortness of breath. Because it quells rebellious Qi in the middle burner, it aids heartburn and acid reflux. It also facilitates lactation and treats mastitis.

While this point won’t guarantee you’ll find the love of your life, it can help you to open the conduit for communication of feelings and for the giving and receiving of love.

Location of Conception Vessel 17

4-18The point is in the centre of the sternum in a shallow hollow. On men it lies between the nipples. It is at the level of the fourth intercostal space which is  located by counting down four rib spaces from the underside of the clavicle. The point can be held with gentle, direct finger pressure, or more gently still by placing the palm on or over the point.

 

This is an extract from The Way of the Five Elements by John Kirkwood, a book that might make a lovely gift for someone you love.

Rising Above Life’s Tears

Toulinqi – Head Above Tears – Gall Bladder 15

above-tearsSoon this long, cold, wet spring will transition to summer. Time for one last Wood point before we move on to the Fire Element.

Toulinqi is a point that is regarded quite differently in the Five Element tradition when compared to the TCM tradition. TCM practitioners regard this as a minor point and little used. When it is utilised, it is for headache, nasal congestion, eye pain, tearing or lack of tearing. It helps to dispel wind that has invaded the body.

In the Five Element tradition it is more often used to address mental and emotional conditions. Recently I used this point on a client who was feeling confused and lacked mental clarity. As I held the two points, which lie just inside the hairline above the eyes, I had the sense that the client’s eyes were rising up her forehead to meet my fingers. This strange notion was validated when I read that Toulinqi  helps a person to get a better sense of perspective, to see further and more widely in the context of her life. If your eyes were to rise up into your hairline, you’d certainly be able to see further!

Head Above Tears is one translation of Toulinqi. Others include Head Overlooking Tears, Head Governor of Tears, Head Before Crying, and Treating Tears. While eyes watering from the wind is certainly one use of the point, it can also be used where a person has difficulty crying, or where frustration has become so extreme as to burst into tears. Readers may remember that last spring we looked at a point in the foot named Foot Above Tears. This can be used to drain excess Qi from the Gall Bladder meridian and to relieve frustration and headache. Head Above Tears is its natural partner and the two can be treated at the same time.

The Gall Bladder Official’s job is to make decisions and to take action in the world. Where there is strong moving back and forth between highs and lows, action and inaction, elation and despair, this point is called for. It helps a person who is tense and uptight, inflexible and only able to see a single course of action.

Dizziness and visual disturbance can sometimes be the result of a difference between our inner and outer reality. When there is a disconnect between inner vision and outer vision. Toulinqi helps to reconcile these differences.

Gall Bladder 15 can give us a wider perspective on life, allowing us to make better sense of its patterns, to rise above the tangled thickets of our inner confusion and to see the bigger picture of our place in the cosmos.

Location of Gall Bladder 15

gb-15

 

Directly above the pupil when the eye is looking forward, and 0.5 cun inside the hairline.