Category Archives: Earth Element

Change of Direction

You may have noticed the reduced output of the Five Element Acupressure Blog in recent months. After four years and 80 blogs about important acupoints and their uses, the Bubbling Spring seems to have slowed to a trickle.

Time for a change of direction to get the juices flowing again. On the eve of the Chinese New Year,  Year of the Earth Dog, I’m announcing a new approach. Instead of focusing on a single acupoint each time, I’ll be writing on broader themes which will serve as vehicles for talking about a range of acupoints, treatment patterns and approaches.

Writing is at its freshest when it arises out of the immediate experience of the writer. Therefore the themes will spring from what is going on right now in my practice, in my teaching, and in response the many enquiries I get from readers of my blog and books.

Here are some of the ideas that are starting to bubble forth:

  • Working with cancer patients
  • Acupressure for fertility and pregnancy
  • Working with the late effects of polio
  • How effective is self-acupressure?

When I began the blog four years ago I charged myself with the task of writing fortnightly. I plan for these themed blogs to appear monthly and in a longer format than previously. Look for the first new content shortly.

Wishing you all the best for the upcoming Year of the Dog.

Abundant Splendour

Fenglong ~ Abundant Splendour ~ Stomach 40


Last weekend saw the completion of the Level 2 Five Element Acupressure course in Adelaide. Part of the material was an Earth treatment to support seasonal transitions, especially for people who struggle physically or psycho-emotionally when seasons are changing. Upon calculation, we found that the transition period from winter to spring has already begun.

The Neijing tells us that the Earth energies come to the fore in the last 18 days of each season. The beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere is at the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, namely August 6th. Which means the transition period began on July 18th. This might seem awfully early to be thinking about spring, but already we are noticing the budding of trees, the lengthening of days and the odd warm one. Spring is in the wings. Personally I am noticing a slight irritability tugging at my liver, my spring alarm clock.

The Earth Element acts as a mediating influence, a power to connect. Using Earth acupoints at a change of season greatly supports a person’s capacity to move smoothly with the change and avoid struggle, discomfort and illness.

In the past we’ve looked at some excellent points that support transitions, including Stomach 36, Spleen 3, and Spleen 4. Let’s look at another one that can be used in any combination with these points.

Fenglong ~ Abundant Splendour is an important point of the Stomach meridian. As the luo-connecting point of Stomach, Fenglong connects to its partner Spleen and balances Qi between the two, harmonising the yin and yang of Earth.

It is the single most important point for clearing phlegm from the body. Phlegm arises when the Spleen’s function of transportation of fluids is impaired and fluid congeals. As the connecting point, Fenglong activates the Spleen’s transporting function and so treats phlegm related conditions, particularly of the digestive and respiratory systems: cough with mucous, bronchitis, pneumonia, constipation, nausea, vomiting, gastric pain, cysts, lipomas and other lumps under the skin.

But it is for its effects in the psycho-emotional realm that Fenglong is renowned in the Five Element tradition. It helps a person who is feeling scarcity in her life to reconnect with a sense of abundance. The character feng depicts the threshing floor at harvest time, brimming with grain, while long indicates a multiplication manyfold of this abundance. Together they portray the magnificent, splendorous bounty of Heaven and Earth.

Ultimately the feeling of abundance has nothing to do with how much we possess, for abundance is not a physical state, but a condition of the mind and of the spirit. When Earth energies are balanced, there is a natural recognition of the abundance that the universe offers us: the bounty and the beauty of nature, the love and connection we share with others, and the simple fact of being alive. Abundant Splendour proclaims these gifts of Earth. It has the capacity to connect us with the truth that we are already the cornucopia of life’s abundance. When we understand that we are a living personification of abundance, there can be deep satisfaction from simply being alive and present to life.

To give your Earth a good turning and raking in preparation for spring, hold ST 40, ST 36, SP 3 and SP 4 in any or all of the 6 possible pairs of points.

Location of Stomach 40

ST 40


The point is on the outside of the leg, half way between the knee crease and the ankle bone and two fingers width lateral to the crest of the tibia bone. Use firm, direct pressure.




Trump and the Earth Imbalance

NarcissusOnce again Earth’s short season of Late Summer rolls around to the southern hemisphere. Meanwhile in the northern hemisphere an unprecedented political Earthquake has occurred, throwing up a world leader who seems to offer a masterclass in an Earth Element imbalance.

Most people who have an Earth imbalance at the psycho-emotional level are those who give to others at the expense of themselves, draining their own resources to their own detriment. This behaviour can become a kind of compulsive giving, out of a need to feel liked, loved, needed or valued.

Less often we see the imbalance at the other end of the spectrum, the person who cares only for themselves, is untouched by the needs of others, and lacks empathy for the suffering of anyone but themselves. This is narcissism which, when it becomes extreme, is known as narcissistic personality disorder. As has been noted widely elsewhere, the new president of the United States, Donald Trump, amply demonstrates these characteristics.

In my book The Way of the Five Seasons, I referred to this pattern as the yin response in Earth:

Lack of Sympathy, Demanding Attention

A famous phrase that sums up the pattern of the yin response is, ‘Enough about me, what did you think of my performance?’

This imbalance in Earth is characterised by a focus on our own needs at the expense of others. We are all familiar with the person who dominates a conversation with talk about himself. He steers the conversation in such a way that the focus remains on him. He may ask questions of others but only so that it shifts the topic to something he wants to talk about. In short, it’s all about him.

If a person has this orientation to the world, when sympathy is offered, the response is a pulling for more sympathy. To the sympathetic listener this can feel like being ensnared in a sticky web of attention-seeking need. Eventually the behaviour of the attention seeker causes his listener to withdraw, reinforcing the feelings of abandonment.

Taken to the extreme, this becomes narcissism. Here, the person is grandiosely self-important, exaggerates his abilities, has a belief that he is special and has a sense of entitlement, but most importantly, he lacks sympathy for others and is unwilling or unable to identify with their feelings.

This behaviour is almost always unconscious. The person is frantically trying to meet his own needs, which effectively blinds him to the needs of others. He is actually incapable of seeing their needs and responding to them. Like Narcissus of the Greek myth, he looks at the world and sees only a reflection of himself.

I wrote this long before Donald Trump began his run for the White House, but on rereading it, I am struck by how accurately this pattern describes him.

So here we are bemoaning and bewailing, gnashing and railing at the accession of Trump, all to little avail. For three months now I’ve been pondering the question, ‘How is this the perfect unfolding of True Nature? How is President Trump perfect for the world?’ If we see all the world as a mirror for our own self-work, what is Trump teaching us?

As long as our enlightenment is not complete, as long as we have any aspect of our ego structure unresolved, there will be narcissism. The ego is by its nature narcissistic. It wants what it wants in order to feel safe and secure because it believes it is separate. Narcissism arises from loss of contact with the truth that we are not separate, but arise out of an indivisible, indestructible oneness.

When all shreds of our narcissism have dissolved, our Earth Element is in perfect balance. We live from the place of total altruism, because all others are actually who we are.

Almost all of us find ourselves on a continuum which includes various proportions of altruism and narcissism. What Trump offers us is the opportunity to examine the ways in which narcissism is an obstacle to altruism.

Next time you find yourself tearing your hair out at the latest impossible thing to come out of his mouth, I invite you to take a look in this mirror.