Category Archives: Metal Element

AutumnWinter

Last weekend we went for a drive in the Adelaide Hills, as did many others released from Covid lockdown in South Australia. The autumn colours on a bright, sunny day were absolutely stunning, providing backdrops for much photography, and sitting smiling in the sun.

We are witnessing the annual transition from autumn to winter, one which reminds us that descent and decay are inevitable precursors of change and renewal. This year we also have ringside seats to a global transformation that may be the defining event of our lifetimes.

Autumn is the season of Metal which inspires us to let go of those things that no longer serve us, indeed may be holding us back from our development. Letting go prepares us to move into winter, season of the Water Element which coaxes us deep inside. The cold weather persuades us indoors, to warm fires and hot drinks, but it is also an invitation to go more deeply within ourselves, to reflect upon the deep places, often dark, within mind, heart and soul.

I find it interesting that I return to writing this blog after an absence of seven months at the very time when nature is bidding reflection. The call has been irresistible.

A client recently told me that he watched again the Metal and Water videos that I filmed around this time last year, and that he found more within them than he had seen the first time, nuances of tone and inflection, movement and posture. The truth is that each time we come to a season, even though we may have been here 20, 40 or 80 times, we are changed since last we traversed the autumnwinter. Our minds, our hearts, our souls are different and we are truly traversing the season for the first time in our current state.

Watch the Metal Video — Watch the Water Video

In choosing an acupoint about which I haven’t yet written, one which deeply supports this passage into winter, I settled on a point that I use frequently in the treatment room at this time of year.

Kidney 10 – Yingu – Yin Valley

Yingu is the Water point on a Water meridian. Such points are referred to as horary points or Element of the Element points. They have a profound influence upon the Element, in this case, shaking up the Water and revitalising the Kidney Qi.  They have a cleansing, enlivening and balancing effect and can provide treatment of the Element at depth.

This effect is amplified by using the points in their corresponding season, in this case, the winter. If you wish to further multiply their power, hold the points at the time of day when the Qi is at its peak in the meridian. In the case of Kidney, this is 5pm-7pm. I liken this alignment to getting all the winning reels up on a slot machine. And for those people who are of a Water constitution, this point really hits the jackpot.

The name Yin Valley may refer to the location of the point, lying as it does between two tendons of the hamstring muscles. But another interpretation evokes the pathway of the Kidney channel. Having travelled from the foot up the inside of the leg to Kidney 10, from here, the pathway continues up the leg to connect with Governor Vessel 1 at the coccyx, then goes deep into the body, passing through the organs of the bladder and the kidneys before re-emerging, like an underground river, at the pubis and Kidney 11. This deep pathway echoes the invitation of the Water Element for us to travel deeply into ourselves at this time of year, dropping down into those dark recesses of the soul that are often hinted at in dreams.

At a physical level, Kidney 10 is a useful local point for pain and constriction at the inside of the knee. It clears damp heat in the lower burner, thereby treating such conditions as urinary dysfunction, painful or bleeding urination, genital pain or itching, uterine bleeding and impotence. Given the deep pathway described above, it also treats coccyx pain, low back pain and conditions of the bladder and kidneys.

Emotionally, the Water Element relates to fear. While Kidney 10 is not renowned for its effect on the emotions, it is interesting to observe that fear can make our knees shaky and weak, and this point helps treat knee imbalances.

So, for a good cleansing flush of the Water, clearing out debris and dirt in the river and making the water sparkle with freshness, try working with Yingu this winter.

Location of Kidney 10

 

At the medial (inside) end of the knee crease between the tendons of semitendinosus and semimembranosus. If you tighten your hamstring muscles, this accentuates the tendons. As you slide your finger along the knee crease, find  the more prominent semitendinosus tendon, then drop into the hollow between it and the less prominent and more medial semimembranosus tendon next to it. This is easier to find with the knee slightly bent.

Letting go … some more

Shangyang ~ Large Intestine 1

autumn let goIn The Way of the Five Seasons I told the story of an autumnal accident with a knife, slicing through Large Intestine channel, and the subsequent investigation into what letting go was needed. Recently, close to the fifth anniversary of that deep cut, I had another little reminder that perhaps more letting go is called for. This time I was opening a packet on the kitchen counter. The bag opened suddenly and my hand went flying, connecting with a knife. Same knife. Same finger. But this time just a nick, right by the acupoint Shangyang, Large Intestine 1.

In contemplating the process of letting go of that which no longer serves, I realised I had been thinking about a difficult friendship when the little accident happened. Relationships are the crucible in which our deepest issues can be worked out, understood and transformed. But sometimes one has to consider whether the understanding is worth the pain and struggle.

The organ of Large Intestine serves to carry away the waste products of digestion. Daily, we let go of the crap that, if held in, would become toxic. Another of this organ’s functions is to reclaim and recycle water and minerals. It holds on to that which is of value to us. When the Large Intestine is healthy, there is appropriate holding on and appropriate letting go.

Sometimes relationships outlive their value. It is common for humans to stay in relationships longer than is good for them, out of fear, duty or habit. It is no easy thing to decide, should I stay or should I go?

Shangyang is a point that can support Metal’s power to discriminate, to cut to the chase and see what is of value and what is not. This is the editor’s gift of paring away the superfluous, the sculptor’s talent to reveal the artwork in the block of stone. Shangyang is the Metal point on a Metal meridian and can give the Element a good shake out. It purifies the spirit, helps us to let go of the mundane. One of the translations of Shangyang is Little Merchant. A successful merchant knows the value of goods, so does not let things go for a low price. But he also knows when to have a clearance sale to make way for new stock.

Points such as this where the Element of the point also corresponds to the Element of the meridian is known as a horary point. When held in the corresponding season its power is increased. When held at the corresponding time of day, its power is further strengthened. Shangyang will deeply support Metal when used between 5 am and 7 am each day during the autumn. This will support appropriate letting go. It will also help to avoid “accidents” that get your attention.

Location of Large Intestine 1

LI 1

 

 

On the radial side of the bed of the nail of the second (index) finger. Square off the curve of the nail to find the point.

 

 

 

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.

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