Category Archives: Anger

Keep Your Shoulder Well

Spring is springing in South Australia, propelled by the rising energy of the Wood Element. Recently I’ve been waking up at 2 am and getting headaches, reminding me that my spring Wood treatment with my acupuncturist is due. Here’s the first Wood point of the season to help you navigate the rapids of the season.

Jianjing – Shoulder Well – Gall Bladder 21

                   (Caution during pregnancy)

3.5I had my first experience of acupressure 30 years ago when I attended a talk. As part of his demonstration, the teacher pressed his thumbs into the tops of my shoulders, causing a release of energy that bolted through my whole body. It really got my attention. I later discovered that he was working a point on the Gall Bladder meridian, Jianjing – Shoulder Well. The reason that it was such a powerful point for me was that I had spent the previous seven years teaching in high schools and had accumulated more than a little tension in my shoulders. Layers of frustration and anger had been tightly controlled by fear of prosecution should I let it out on my students.

Many of the stresses of modern living find their way into the shoulders. The responsibilities of life can seem to weigh on the shoulders like the straps of a heavy backpack. Most people have some tension in these points which is why a shoulder massage usually feels so good.

Tightness in the shoulders affects the smooth flow of Qi along the Gall Bladder meridian. It limits the range of neck movement and so constrains clear vision and perspective. Likewise it inhibits the free movement of the arms which are the means of taking action in the world.

The official of Gall Bladder is sometimes referred to as the Chief of Staff. While the Liver official, the General, is responsible for planning and strategy, the Gall Bladder official carries out the plans, riding hither and yon to oversee their implementation. If we live a busy life, we are constantly multitasking and keeping all the balls in the air. When we live a life of doing and lose touch with being, congestion in the Gall Bladder channel can result. The tops of the shoulders have a particular tendency to become congested.

Jianjing is a meeting point with the Stomach and Triple Heater meridians and the Yang Linking Vessel, making for a deep concentration of meridian Qi at this point. It has a strong descending action, drawing congested energy down the body. For this reason it is not recommended during pregnancy, though useful to assist labour and promote lactation. It is also supportive after a miscarriage.

When there is ongoing frustration, anger, resentment and rigidity, these emotions can become stuck in the neck and shoulders. The whole neck can become rigid from these bottled-up feelings. Shoulder Well can relieve such a bottleneck of energy, especially when combined with GB 20 at the top of the neck. It eases neck stiffness, treats shoulder and upper back pain, and helps to lower blood pressure.

When the tension in your life is creating boulders on your shoulders, take your bucket to the Shoulder Well.


Location of Gall Bladder 21

3.6The point is on the crest of the shoulder, midway between the base of the neck and the tip of the shoulder (acromion). Reach up and press your middle finger into the tightest part of the trapezius muscle on your opposite shoulder. It is difficult to apply deep pressure yourself, so get a friend to press his thumbs into the points while you are sitting or lying down. Apply firm, downward pressure. In cases of extreme tightness, you can rub or knead the muscle first before applying static pressure. For self-help, there are cane-shaped tools available which allow you to apply leveraged pressure.

This is an extract from the forthcoming book ‘The Way of the Five Elements’ by John Kirkwood, Singing Dragon Press. Publication date November 21st, 2015. You can now pre-order this book at Fishpond, Book Depository and other online booksellers. (94 days to go!)


Bubbling Spring

Yongquan – Bubbling Spring – Kidney 1

2.13In 2009 I began publishing a newsletter about the Five Elements. The idea for this just bubbled up one day, like a spring suddenly appearing on a hillside. When casting about for a title for the publication, this too just sprang to mind in the most effortless way. I called it Bubbling Spring after the first point of the Kidney meridian. And like a perennial spring, this quinterly newsletter pushed its way up, insisting on its publication through four years and 19 issues until it began to morph into a book.*

This feeling of something bubbling up irrepressibly from within gave me a direct experience of the nature of the Water Element. Water is the most yin of the Elements but it is not passive. It offers us access to power that comes from true will, wisdom that is borne of stillness, knowing that arises from not knowing.

Yongquan – Bubbling Spring is the only acu-point on the sole of the foot, the lowest and most yin part of the body which is in continual contact with the yin energy of the earth.

It can therefore be used as a portal through which we can visualise drawing upon the energy of the earth as a tree’s roots draw nourishment from the soil. This image of the tree is quite appropriate here since this is the Wood point of the Kidney meridian, one which empowers growth and development to reach our fullest potential.

When a person lacks stamina, strength, will or perseverance, Yongquan can help him to draw on reserves in order to get a kick-start. It can restore consciousness and is called for when someone has fainted. On the other hand, it can be used when energy rises aggressively and unrestrainedly, producing conditions such as dizziness, headache at the top of the head, confusion, impaired vision, nosebleed and hypertension.

One of the most important relationships in the body is between the Kidneys and the Heart. The Kidneys nourish the Heart while the Heart warms the Kidneys. Harmony between the two is one of the main requirements for a peaceful spirit. Therefore imbalance between Kidneys and Heart is a cause of a range of emotional disorders including anxiety, mania, agitation, restlessness and surges of anger and rage. Yongquan treats these conditions by calming the mind and clearing the brain.

It is a very grounding point and can be massaged at bedtime in order to stave off insomnia. Putting your feet in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes is a wonderful way to bring on sleep.

Yongquan is good for disorders brought on by menopause, including hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety and headache. It also helps Water related issues such as oedema, infertility and poor memory.

As the Wood point on a Water meridian, this is the sedation point of Kidney and as such moves Qi from Water to Wood around the sheng cycle. This is what gives it its power of resurgence. However, the Kidney Qi is rarely, if ever, in excess, and so this point must not be overused lest the reserves of Kidney Qi be depleted.

If you want to put a spring in your step or draw strength from the well of the Water Element; or if you feel exhausted by effort and want to contact your true will, dip your cup in the Bubbling Spring.



Location of Kidney 1

On the sole of the foot, the point lies in the depression that appears when the toes are curled. Locate between the second and third metatarsals, about one third of the distance between the base of the second toe and the heel.



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This is an extract from ‘The Way of the Five Elements’ by John Kirkwood, to be published by Singing Dragon Press (an imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishing) in November 2015.

Spring turns to Summer – Wood feeds Fire

Generation CycleAs spring transitions to summer there is a qualitative change in the way nature looks and feels. The rapid, uprising, often erratic and unpredictable energy of Wood begins to level out. Nature has gone through its most rapid growth from tender sprout to fully grown plant and the speed of growth begins to slow down. Likewise the rapid acceleration in the length of the daylight hours also begins to slow. In ourselves, the sense of strongly uprising Qi may be replaced by a feeling of outward expansiveness.

The sun rises quite early now and tries to coax us out of bed earlier than in spring. The days are much longer and the increasing warmth persuades us to shed layers of clothing, to wear lighter and brighter coloured garments. The temperatures are no longer simply warm but hot. The strength of the sun is noticeably more intense, encouraging us to wear hats and sunscreen. The night comes later, especially if there is daylight saving, encouraging us to stay outdoors and enjoy the lengthening days. Evenings are warm, and there are no longer the cool nights of spring.

In this transition nature offers us an invitation to come out, to be outdoors more, to be more expansive, both physically, and emotionally. This sense of expansiveness leads naturally to a desire to spend more time with others. The start of summer marks the beginning of the barbeque season, street parties, garage sales and get togethers of all kinds. Calendars begin to fill up as invitations to social activities surge.

As the energy of Fire begins to replace that of Wood, we may notice more activity in the heart centre, prompting us to seek more human contact and to have more fun in the process.

After spending the spring months exploring the qualities of the Wood Element within you, you have been developing a healthier Wood, healing the gnarled and creaky places in yourself. A healthy Wood Element gives birth to a healthy Fire Element. The work you have done in the spring season will serve as a platform for continued exploration, growth and healing in the summer. As the season transitions to summer and the Fire phase, you will be much better equipped to move into the expansive, loving, heart oriented Element of Fire.

Moving Between Wood and Fire

The acupoint I have chosen to end this round of Wood points is Xingjian – Moving Between. This is the second point on the Liver meridian, the Fire point on that channel. It is a point that encourages the movement of Qi from Wood to Fire when the Liver Qi is excess. Excess Liver energy tends to rise rapidly and often uncontrollably up the body. At the physical level it can manifest as headaches, dizziness, painful and red eyes, nosebleed, dry throat, pain and itching in the genitals, menstrual pain and irregularity, and abdominal distension. Emotionally it shows up as anger, frustration and irritability. The rapidly rising Liver Qi can produce anger related symptoms such as a rush of blood to the head, seeing red and flying off the handle. Insomnia can result.

Moving Between treats all these conditions, quelling the uncontrolled Liver energy by persuading the pent up energy of Wood to flow smoothly to the Fire Element around the Generation cycle. (See illustration above)

Next time we will begin our exploration of the Fire Element. Throughout the summer you will learn some of the important points of the Fire meridians. Don’t forget to bring your hat!

Location of Liver 2

LV 2The point is located just (0.5 cun) above the webbing between the first and second toes. Don’t confuse this with Liver 3 which we learned earlier in the spring and which lies further up the foot in a large hollow between the metatarsals. Apply direct finger pressure for two to three minutes on both sides.


Some of the above material has been taken from John’s book “Seasons of Life – A Guide to Living with the Five Elements” to be published in 2015.