Category Archives: Breathing difficulty

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.

The Spirit of Metal

As autumn enters its final weeks, we examine one of the most powerful points of  Metal, one which reaches into the very spirit of the Element.

Pohu ~ Soul Door ~ Bladder 42

6.19Po is the spirit of the Metal Element. Its character has two parts. The left part is the character for white, which is the colour of the Metal Element. The right part is the character for ghost or earthbound spirit. Po is therefore the spirit which is tied to the earth and the mundane.

The po is the corporeal soul (sometimes translated as animal soul) which enters the body at conception. In the first months after birth, the baby’s whole life revolves around this corporeal soul as it forms the foundation of a healthy body for the life to come. Of the five spirits, it is the only one that disappears when we die. As soon as the lungs exhale for the last time and the body dies, the po exits through the anus and descends to join the earth from which it originated.

During life, the po is utterly tied to the physical body and to time and space. Like animal instinct, it is concerned with immediate reactions to what is happening in each moment. It is about the here and the now. This instinctual part of us lives on its senses, alert to all sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. It is our animal nature.

The po is paired with the hun, the ethereal soul which is the spirit of the Wood Element. While the hun roams the realm between the earth and the heavens, the po provides a counterpoint as the most physical and material part of the human soul. It could be said to be the somatic manifestation of the soul. It provides for clear and sharp sensations and movements and is involved in all physiological processes. Of all these processes it is especially connected to breathing which is its special province. In fact the po resides in the lungs and is particularly affected by sadness and grief which restrict its movement. Constricted breathing, holding of the breath and shallow breathing are all injurious to the Lung and to the po.

While the emotion of grief is the one most closely associated with the po, all emotions are ruled by it. It consists of the seven emotions (fear, anxiety, anger, joy, sorrow, worry and grief) which Jarrett neatly describes as the primal urges that facilitate the grasping of life.

Another function of the po is to anchor the heavenly aspect of our human nature within the density of the body. It may seem something of a paradox that the spirit which relates so much to our instinctual, animal side, is also paramount in connecting us to our spiritual nature. The po is concerned with balancing these aspects of our humanness, supporting us as beings of spirit who inhabit the bodies of animals.

Imbalance in the po produces a marked disparity between the heavenly and earthly aspects of human life. On the one hand there can be an obsessive attachment to material things and the accumulation of possessions, money and fame to the detriment of things spiritual. On the other hand a person may have his head in the clouds and be unable or unwilling to navigate the ordinary world of human existence. There may even be a withdrawal from the world in order to focus on the spiritual search.

Other possible outcomes of po imbalance are ongoing physical pain with no identifiable cause, migrating pain, extreme sensitivity to outside psychic influences and chronic health problems associated with emotions that are stuck.

A point that profoundly contacts and balances the po is the outer shu point of Lung, Pohu – Soul Door, sometimes translated as Door of the Corporeal Soul. It is a point that helps to resolve the spirit/animal paradox. It can access the spirit of Metal at a very deep level and serve to reconnect us with what we value in her life, with the preciousness of life itself and with our authentic being or essence. Moreover it supports us in valuing our essential spiritual nature.

All the longings that we feel are ultimately a desire to be reconnected with spirit, whether or not we are conscious of the underlying nature of our longing. Pohu supports reconnection with spirit, and thus can treat all feelings of longing and desire for spirit.

These attributes of Pohu are particularly helpful in supporting people in their quest to find spiritual meaning in life on Earth. Where depression, long-term sadness, resignation or lack of inspiration derive from loss of contact with spirit, this soul door offers support.

Location of Bladder 42

6.20

 

The outer shu point of the Lung, Pohu is located in the upper back, 3 cun lateral to the junction of T3 and T4. The point lies at the medial border of the scapula.

 

 

This is an extract from my book The Way of the Five Elements. This and its companion volume The Way of the Five Seasons, are now available for purchase. Singing Dragon Press.

Twobooks

Mother’s Embrace

Leap Day in Australia finds us at the beginning of autumn and the Metal Element. Before we drop down into the yin half of the year, let’s look at one final acupoint of the Earth Element.

Dabao – Great Enveloping – Spleen 21

5.17Hugs come in many forms: a light greeting, a supportive holding, an affectionate embrace, a passionate clinch, a mother’s love-you-to-bits squeeze. A loving, caring, full-frontal hug sees the arms enfold the other person, wrapping around the back and sides, while the two chests meet. What is common to all these hugs is caring. You enfold the other person in your arms in a caring embrace. You care for their well being. Such caring is the essence of the Earth Element.

The Earth qualities of caring, support and nourishment are amply demonstrated and demonstrably amplified at the acu-point Dabao – Great Enveloping which lies on the side of the ribcage. Imagine a mother embracing her child, arms wrapped around the little body, holding and squeezing with maternal love. The child’s entire upper body is enveloped, wrapped in mother’s love.

The character of Dabao includes a pictogram of a foetus in the womb to suggest something contained within, wrapped up or enveloped. A foetus receives holding, support and nourishment, all essential qualities of Earth.

Dabao transmits these essences by virtue of its role as the point of the Great Spleen Connecting Channel. This channel arises at SP 21 and radiates throughout the chest, through what are known as the minute collaterals, enveloping the chest with Qi and Blood, and supporting the Heart. The point relieves fullness, oppression and depression in the Heart area, bringing a feeling of freedom, openness, harmony and togetherness. It effects an internal, enfolding, motherly embrace.

This function of moving Qi and Blood extends throughout the body because Dabao controls all the luo-connecting points. We have looked at a number of luo-connecting points so far and seen how these points balance the yin and yang of their Element. In SP 21 we have the Great-luo point, the mother of all connecting points. In this role it treats the whole network of connecting channels and their Blood, thereby nourishing the whole body. In this way, it treats muscular pain that moves throughout the body as well as looseness of the joints.

Another major function of Dabao is as the exit point of the Spleen meridian. From here, the Qi moves into the entry point of Heart meridian at Heart 1 – Utmost Source, which lies in the centre of the armpit. Here is another way that Spleen nourishes the Heart, through the wei-qi cycle. Spleen 21 needs to be open in order to serve the Heart and Heart 1 needs to be open to receive the nourishment.

When Qi becomes blocked at points of exit or entry, an entry-exit block occurs and poses a significant impediment to effective treatment. The Spleen/Heart block is one of the most common of these blocks. Symptoms of such a block can include fullness of the chest, palpitations, pain in the ribcage, pain in the armpit, skin eruptions at or between the points, appetite disorders, fatigue and depression.

Something I have discovered through bodywork is that by holding both SP 21 points simultaneously, a gentle myofascial compression is created. When this hold is maintained for about three minutes, the fascia of the whole ribcage begins to unwind, contributing greatly to the effect that SP 21 has on freeing the Qi of the chest.

This can be done by using gentle pressure with the palms over the points, a hold which often feels very comforting to the recipient, like a supportive, caring embrace.

 

Location of Spleen 21

5.18

 

On the very side of the ribcage, below the armpit, in the seventh intercostal space (some sources locate in the sixth intercostal space). It lies roughly at the level of the xiphoid process at the base of the sternum. The point can be held with moderate, direct pressure or with the palm as suggested above.

 

Cover

Want More Points?

Get yourself a copy of The Way of the Five Elements by John Kirkwood. Available now from your favourite bookseller. Order online here.