Category Archives: Tiredness

How Effective Is Self-Acupressure?

One of the most common questions I get from clients and students is, “Can I do this on myself?” The answer is, certainly! But as you might expect, it is not as effective as working with a skilled acupressure therapist. (I want to keep my job after all.) Even so, there are some things you can do to make self-acupressure an important and effective part of your health maintenance program.

With all my experience and knowledge, I cannot treat myself as well as another practitioner can. The main reason for this is that when you self-treat, you are trying to be both practitioner and client at the same time and so your intention becomes divided. As client you cannot fully relax because you are holding and focusing on the point; as practitioner you cannot bring all your attention to treating the point because you are trying to relax into it.

Another major reason that self-acupressure is limited is that it is almost impossible to see ourselves objectively. You can’t see your own blind spots. So when you try to diagnose your imbalance, you simply can’t see what you can’t see. Another practitioner is more able to view your case objectively and so may be able to choose points that will more effective for you.

When it comes to treatment of self or other, there are four levels of increasing depth at which we can treat:

  1. First Aid
  2. Symptomatic
  3. Diagnostic
  4. Constitutional

Self-acupressure is best suited to the first level, that of First Aid. Let’s say you are feeling bloated and nauseated after eating too much. Holding Stomach 36 will probably ease your condition. Maybe you have a headache with pain at the back of your head and behind your eyes. Gall Bladder 20 is a good choice for easing the pain. At this level of treatment we are choosing a single point for a single condition.

The second level, what I call the Symptomatic Level of treatment, is where you notice a range of symptoms and associations from which you recognise that a particular Element is calling for attention. Let’s say you have stomach pain and reflux, are feeling more fatigued than usual, and there is a build up of fluid in your lower legs and ankles. The Earth Element is clearly calling for attention. A treatment pattern that combines Stomach and Spleen points is probably going to treat you more deeply than simply holding Stomach 36. However, if you are doing self-acupressure, it can be difficult to hold points in combination because of the contortions you have to make. For example, holding Spleen 4 with the opposite Spleen 21 would be a good combination, but even Houdini might be stretched with this one.

The third level, the Diagnostic, looks at the interplay of all the Elements. In the above example, where the Earth is out of balance, I would be most interested in the mother Element which in this case is Fire, and the grandmother Element which is Wood. How are these other Elements involved, or even contributing to the Earth imbalance? While a practitioner can observe you objectively, you may not be able to see your own wobbles. This is especially true when working at the psycho-emotional level where our old patterns, beliefs and behaviours might obscure a clear view of ourselves.

The deepest level of treatment is at the Constitutional Level where treatment focuses on points of the Element that is at the core of our energetic structure. It can be particularly difficult to self-diagnose our Constitution. It’s hard enough to do it for someone else. If you know your Constitutional Element, then you can focus on the points of that Element, but it is not possible to sink deeply into the treatment when you are focused on doing the treatment

So far I’ve been pointing out the limitations of self-acupressure. But that is not to say that you can’t get some very good benefits from working on yourself. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of a self-acupressure treatment.

Choosing the right point

While holding any acupoint at all will make a positive intervention into your own energetic structure, the more closely you can match your symptoms and conditions with appropriate points, the better the results will be. My book ‘The Way of the Five Elements’ is useful because it describes the locations and related conditions of 54 powerful points. It also has a good index to match points to conditions. In addition, each point comes with a list of related points so you can make your work more effective with point combinations. If you don’t have my book, simply go online and search for your condition + acupressure and you will come up with many suggestions. You could begin with a keyword search of this blog site.

Finding the point accurately

An acupuncturist who is inserting a needle needs to be accurate within 1-2 millimetres; but when using finger pressure we have more latitude as the pressure is exerted over a wider area. Even so, the more accurate you are, the more powerful the treatment will be. While a point location book will give you a picture or an anatomical description, this is not the point itself. A map is not the territory. What you must search for is the feeling of the Qi of the point. Feel for the pulsing, waving, whooshing, tingling vibration that is the sensation of the movement of Qi. This is how you will know you have the point. If you don’t feel this, try moving your finger slowly around in a small circle, looking for that feeling. It may take time for you to develop this skill, but be patient and the Qi will come to you.

Being present with the point

Do your self-treatment when you are in a quiet, restful place. Doing it while watching TV or chatting to someone will not make for effective outcomes. As you hold the point, send your mind down into the point. The Japanese symbol for an acupoint (tsubo) shows a vessel with a long neck and a little lid over it. Sustained pressure will remove the lid and allow your intention to go down into the depth of the point and influence the Qi. Treat your session as a meditation.

 

Noticing the effects

Observe what happens as you hold the point. Be as present as you can with the physical sensations, and any emotions, thoughts or memories that might arise. Just be with them without judgement or a need to change anything. You might notice energy moving in other parts of your body and perhaps other points calling to you for treatment. Don’t rush to treat elsewhere, but wait until the point you are holding feels complete before moving on. You will find one level of release after two or three minutes, but sustained holding will go to deeper and deeper levels of release.

Concluding the treatment

After you’ve finished your work, sit or lie with the effects. Notice what has changed. Notice what has not changed. You might hold your hands over your belly centre (Conception Vessel 6) as you contemplate your treatment. And when you do get up, try to take the new awareness of yourself into your daily life.

I wish you well in your explorations.

 

Building for the Guest

 

Zhubin – Guest House – Kidney 9

PregnancyA recent seminar on Acupressure for Pregnancy puts me in mind of the importance of Zhubin – Guest House, a powerful point on the Kidney meridian. Kidney 9 helps to sustain the mother through her pregnancy, and there is a Japanese tradition of using this point to support the foetus in the womb, especially in the 3rd, 6th and 9th months. One of its names is Building for the Guest which envisions the creation of a welcoming, comfortable environment for the closely related being who inhabits the inner guest room for nine months.

This is one of a category of points known as the xi-cleft or Accumulation points. In this case, it is the xi-cleft point of the Yin Wei Mai, one of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels. Xi-cleft points treat acute conditions, namely those of sudden and recent onset; in addition these points of the yin meridians and vessels are supportive of Blood. The Yin Wei Mai is very important because it unites all the yin meridians as well as the Conception Vessel (appropriate in this case), thereby making it tremendously supportive of overall yin. The condition of pregnancy is one that is emblematic of yin and so is well supported by Kidney 9.

Another of its merits is the treating of manic mental disorders such as bipolar. Among the evocatively descriptive conditions it can address are raving fury and cursing, vomiting of foamy saliva and tongue thrusting. While we may not often encounter such displays, we are often confronted with milder versions of this agitation. Zhubin is an excellent choice for profoundly calming the mind, clearing oppression of the chest, vague anxieties, depression, nightmares and palpitations.

This range of symptoms implies its usefulness when the Heart and Kidney are in disharmony, when shen and jing are disconnected. When the knowledge of how to be in the world is undermined by exhaustion, Zhubin can conjoin the shen of the Heart and the jing of the Kidney to empower the person to stabilise, settle and be nourished. Then the power of the Water Element can appropriately direct the energies to confront the problems of life.

While most of us are rarely in the state of pregnancy (and at least half of us never are!), we are continually conceiving of notions for our lives, gestating them in mind and heart, before birthing them into the world. Guest House is the perfect place to support the gestation of our creations.

Location of Kidney 9

Kidney 9

 

 

On the inside of the lower leg, 5 cun above the tip of the inner ankle bone and 1 cun behind the back of the tibia. It lies on a line drawn between Kidney 3 and Kidney 10.

Caught on a Sticky Wicket

Yinlingquan – Yin Mound Spring – Spleen 9

8 HumidI’ve just spent a week in Brisbane where the late summer has flowed deep into the autumn, producing 30 degree temperatures and 80% humidity. These conditions create a hot, damp, sticky climate that can be overwhelming for visitors used to drier places. As with any climatic condition, dampness that arises from high humidity can penetrate the bodymind. When it does, it affects the balance of the Earth Element and injures the Spleen.

When damp enters the body it produces symptoms such as heaviness, particularly in the limbs and lower body; lethargy and fatigue; fluid retention; and sluggishness of body and mind. Thinking can become slow and the mind foggy. There may be loss of appetite and distension of the abdomen. Overall, you feel like a wet noodle. Movement is like walking through mud.

You don’t just have to go to the tropics to experience damp. Cold, wet climates such as those found in northern Europe can cause damp to penetrate, as can being in wet clothes for too long, sitting on damp ground, working in damp conditions or living close to water in a damp house. Moreover, a diet that is injurious to the Spleen can create internal damp. This includes consuming too much sugar, cold foods and drink.

If any of this describes your current condition, then help is at hand. Yinlingquan – Yin Mound Spring is one of the best points for clearing damp from the body. As the Water point on an Earth meridian, it helps to rebalance conditions where the Earth has become waterlogged and soggy. These include oedema, bloating, urinary dysfunction, sticky vaginal discharge, diarrhoea and loss of appetite. Locally it is a great point for treating swelling of the knee. In all cases this Spleen point dries the dampness by draining the Water from the Earth.

You may have noticed that this blog is a week overdue. I was fully intending to write it while I was in Queensland but the humidity sapped my energy both mentally and physically. Even though in South Australia we are well into the autumnal season of Metal, I thought I would extend the run of Earth articles by writing about what was in front of me. Now please excuse me while I go and press Spleen 9.

 

SP9Location of Spleen 9

The point is located in a depression below the inside of the knee in the angle formed by the medial condyle of the tibia and the posterior border of the tibia. Run your finger up the inside of the lower leg, following the groove at the back of the tibia, until it falls into a depression below the prominence of the medial condyle.

 

 

 The Way of the Five Seasons is now available

Book cover

 

My latest book is now available for purchase. The Way of the Five Seasons is an in-depth exploration of using the Five Elements in daily life to improve your health at all levels, physical, psycho-emotional and spiritual. This book is a distillation of all I have learned in 30 years of living life from this perspective.

 

Order now through Book Depository UK via my website