Category Archives: Acupressure Points

Two Extraordinary Points

LakeWe are now deep into winter and here in Adelaide we are being lashed by cold winds and rain even as I write. There is no better time to support the Water Element and its meridians of Bladder and Kidney. This time I want to examine two points, one from each of these meridians, two extraordinary points that have wide ranging effects.

Bladder 62 (Extending Vessel) and Kidney 6 (Shining Sea) are like old friends to me, for I have held these points countless thousands of times. I end almost all my treatments with these points in the feet because they are grounding, very calming and have a balancing effect that ties the treatment together in a complete way.

But I said they are extraordinary points. What makes them so? They are the master points for two of the eight Extraordinary Vessels, Yin Qiao Mai and Yang Qiao Mai, also known as the Motility Vessels. The Extraordinary Vessels are like reservoirs of Qi. We can think of them as lakes of Qi in contrast to the rivers of Qi that are the meridians. These lakes do not flow along linear pathways but rather are fields of energy that can be drawn upon or added to by the meridians depending on whether the meridians are excess or deficient.

These vessels do not have any points of their own, but weave through the points of other meridians like a web. For example Yin Qiao Mai passes through points of Kidney, Bladder and Stomach meridians, while Yang Qiao Mai passes through points of Bladder, Gall Bladder, Small Intestine, Triple Warmer, Stomach and Large Intestine meridians. When we work with these vessels, we are influencing all of these associated meridians, bringing balance to them all.

Now, back to our extraordinary points. Each of the eight Extraordinary Vessels has a master point which exerts a positive, balancing influence upon its related vessel. K6 is the master point for Yin Qiao Mai and BL 62 is the master point for Yang Qiao Mai. These points can be held separately or as a pair. I find that holding them as a pair is extremely effective in bringing calm and balance to the whole bodymind system.

In addition, these points have a strong effect upon the Bladder and Kidney meridians and act to balance the Water Element. BL 62 treats chills and fever, wind invasion, headache, neck stiffness, eye and ear problems, mania-depression, insomnia and lumbar pain. K6 treats swelling in the throat, eye problems, insomnia, fright, urinary dysfunction, oedema, irregular menstruation and cold abdomen.

If there are imbalances in the Bladder and Kidney meridians, symptoms are more likely to manifest in the season of winter. But the good news is that by treating these meridians in their own season, the effect is stronger. These two points offer a simple way to bring balance and harmony to your bodymind in the depths of winter.

SAMSUNGLocation of Kidney 6

Find the tip of your inner ankle bone. Measure 1 cun (the width of your thumb) below this to find a slight groove between two ligaments. Press directly and hold for 2-3 minutes.

 

 

SAMSUNGLocation of Bladder 62

Find the base of your outer ankle bone. The point is in a slight depression 0.5 cun (half the width of your thumb) below the base of the bone. Press directly and hold for 2-3 minutes.

 

When held in combination, these points are mutually supportive.

Low Back Pain and Kidney Qi

Healthy low backHere in southern Australia winter has finally come and the Water Element has spread over the land. The colder weather brings challenges for many people, not least of which is the stress it can place on the low back. I tend to see more low back complaints in my treatment room at this time of year. Why is this?

As I reflected last time, the kidneys are the storehouses of our Qi. When we push our limits by doing too much, not sleeping enough, not staying warm enough, or even having a lot of sex, we can drain our Kidney Qi. If we do these things in the winter, the strain is all the greater. If there is any imbalance in the Water Element, it is more likely to reveal itself in the winter. One of the ways this can show up is in strain, pain and stiffness in the lumbar area.

There are two points in the low back that are very helpful in supporting the Kidney Qi and the Water Element. These lie on the inner and outer lines of the Bladder meridian which run down the back on either side of the spine like sets of railway tracks. These points of the back are called shu points and are found at the vertebral junctions. Each shu point relates to one of the twelve organs. The word shu means transporting, suggesting that the point transports energy directly to the associated organ. The Kidney shu points lie in the lumbar area, on either side of the spine at the level of the navel.

The inner shu point BL 23 (Kidney Shu) directly treats the kidneys themselves and provides access to our deepest reserves of Qi. It also helps with hearing and the ears, the sense organs of the Kidney. Other conditions helped by this point include urination problems, feeling the cold, impotence and infertility. It is the classic point for low back pain and is the focal point for the low back release which I teach in my workshops.

The outer shu point BL 52 (Residence of the Will) also tonifies the kidneys and strengthens the low back. In addition it addresses the psycho-emotional aspects of Water. As its name suggests, it strengthens the will (zhi), allowing access to courage and determination. It supports a person who is experiencing chronic fear and anxiety which are detrimental to the kidneys and Kidney Qi. In such cases this point can assuage fear by providing access to basic trust in the inherent supportiveness of true nature.

Location of BL 23 & 52

BL 23:52These points are in the low back at the level of the junction between vertebrae L2 and L3. This is roughly at the level of the navel. BL23 lies 1.5 cun (two fingers width) outside the spine. BL 52 is 3 cun (four fingers width) outside the spine. If you are working on someone else, have them lie face down and apply direct pressure with your thumbs for 2-3 minutes. If you are working on yourself, lie on your back, make fists and place your knuckles into the points. A quick treatment of these points is to sit in a chair and rub your knuckles up and down across these points. It is a stimulating and warming practice on a cold winter’s day.

Workshops

Learn the low back and pelvis release patterns. Workshops in Adelaide (August 3rd) and Mount Barker (June 22nd & August 10th). Contact me for more information.

Transition from Metal to Water

autumn treeIn the Adelaide Hills where I live, the winter rains have come at last, plucking the final leaves from the deciduous trees. There are still warm days, but it is clear we are enjoying the last of them. Winter is waiting in the wings, ready to spread out across the landscape like spilt water.

For some this can be a difficult transition if it brings with it a foreboding of the chilly days and long cold nights to come, and an unwillingness to let go of the bright days of autumn. For others the transition to winter is welcome, a time to hunker down at home in front of a warm fire with a good book and an early bed, shutting out the world and retreating indoors.

During this transition between autumn and winter, the Metal and Water Elements dance with each other as cold days intersperse themselves in the last of the autumn warmth. We cannot ignore the sun as it dips lower and lower towards the horizon, heading for its rendezvous with the winter solstice. We reach for scarves, vests, extra layers and think of splitting wood for fires.

Before I began working with the Elements, I hated winter with a passion. I dreaded the cold and the dark and the faint depression that descended. But gradually I have come to see the rightness of the season, learned to accept nature’s invitation to go inside. The more we  can rest and rejuvenate in this time, the more our internal batteries will be charged in readiness for the next round.

Take up nature’s invitation and use this transition period to prepare for turning within. Secure the house against the cold winter winds; pare back your schedule to allow for early nights; stock up on books, movies, jigsaws, knitting or whatever keeps you comfortable indoors. Emulate the trees and drop the extraneous from your life. Prepare for the descent.

Into yourself.

 

Sea of Qi – Conception Vessel 6

Hara breathingThis point is located two fingers width below the navel. It lies in the area known variously as the hara, the dan tien, the k’ath and the belly centre. As the name Sea of Qi suggests, it provides access to a reservoir of Qi.

Here is a practice that will serve you well during the winter months, a practice that gathers Qi from the breath and stores it in the kidneys. Place one palm over CV 6 and then place the other palm over it. As you breathe in, imagine you are gathering the Heavenly Qi with your breath and drawing it down into the area under your palms. As you breathe out, retain the gathered Qi. Continue breathing mindfully, adding to your store of Qi with each breath. This practice warms and energises the body yet can be deeply relaxing. It is a great aid for going to sleep. At the deepest level, the practice will strengthen the Kidney Qi and support you through the winter.

Next time we will begin exploring acupoints of the Bladder and Kidney meridians, the channels of the Water Element whose season is winter.