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
Perhaps 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
The 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.