Category Archives: Flexibilty

Seeing Clearly, Stepping Nimbly

Tongziliao – Gall Bladder 1 – Pupil Crevice

Today is another windy spring day in South Australia. This time it’s a warm wind, but the forecast for tomorrow is for cool winds. Such is the changeable nature of spring. Wind is the climate of the Wood Element and when it penetrates the body’s defences, can create headaches and affect the eyes.

In previous springs we have examined other Gall Bladder points which treat wind invasion. Last year we looked at Gall Bladder 15 while the previous spring it was Gall Bladder 41.

Tongziliao – Gall Bladder 1 – Pupil Crevice, is named for its location at the outer side of the eye, in a hollow on the orbital bone. It is useful for eliminating wind, a condition to which the Liver is prone and averse. The point treats redness and itching of the eyes, eye pain and tearing, visual obstruction or dimness. It also treats headaches and migraines, especially around the temples. When there is a deviation of the mouth or facial paralysis such as occurs in Bell’s palsy, the point is called for.

At this point there is a close connection between the two Officials of Wood.  The Liver Official’s job is to use far-sightedness and good judgement in making the  plans needed to navigate the world. The Gall Bladder Official is responsible for decision making and for strategising the best way implement those plans. Tongziliao is an appropriate point to use to support both of these functions.

Gall Bladder 1 is a meeting point with the Bladder and Triple Heater meridians. In other words it is like a railway hub through which three lines pass. Using this point will have wide ranging influences by having an effect on all three of these yang meridians of the head.

Another of its important functions is as an entry point. Qi moves through the cycle of all 12 primary meridians, moving out of one meridian at its exit point, and into the following meridian at its entry point. In this case, Qi moves from Triple Heater 22 to Gall Bladder 1. It is common for Qi to become blocked at these points of exit and entry which are referred to as Entry-Exit blocks. In fact, such blocks can be impediments to treatment progressing and so the Five Element practitioner must always be alert to their possibility.

Tongziliao can be used to promote clarity of vision at all levels of the body, mind and spirit. Gall Bladder timidity is a psycho-emotional condition which describes a lack of courage to make decisions and move to decisive action. This point supports such a person to see clearly what needs to be done and to act accordingly.

Gall Bladder 1 is the start of that meridian’s long zig-zag journey around the head and down the sides of the body. It’s pathway embodies the qualities of the yang Wood Official as he moves back and forth, stepping nimbly and flexibly around obstacles in the way of achieving his goals. To support your own clarity of vision and flexibility of purpose, try holding GB 1 this spring.

Location of Gall Bladder 1


In a slight hollow at the side of the orbital bone of the eye, approximately 0.5 cun posterior to the outer canthus (corner of the eye).

Rising Above Life’s Tears

Toulinqi – Head Above Tears – Gall Bladder 15

above-tearsSoon this long, cold, wet spring will transition to summer. Time for one last Wood point before we move on to the Fire Element.

Toulinqi is a point that is regarded quite differently in the Five Element tradition when compared to the TCM tradition. TCM practitioners regard this as a minor point and little used. When it is utilised, it is for headache, nasal congestion, eye pain, tearing or lack of tearing. It helps to dispel wind that has invaded the body.

In the Five Element tradition it is more often used to address mental and emotional conditions. Recently I used this point on a client who was feeling confused and lacked mental clarity. As I held the two points, which lie just inside the hairline above the eyes, I had the sense that the client’s eyes were rising up her forehead to meet my fingers. This strange notion was validated when I read that Toulinqi  helps a person to get a better sense of perspective, to see further and more widely in the context of her life. If your eyes were to rise up into your hairline, you’d certainly be able to see further!

Head Above Tears is one translation of Toulinqi. Others include Head Overlooking Tears, Head Governor of Tears, Head Before Crying, and Treating Tears. While eyes watering from the wind is certainly one use of the point, it can also be used where a person has difficulty crying, or where frustration has become so extreme as to burst into tears. Readers may remember that last spring we looked at a point in the foot named Foot Above Tears. This can be used to drain excess Qi from the Gall Bladder meridian and to relieve frustration and headache. Head Above Tears is its natural partner and the two can be treated at the same time.

The Gall Bladder Official’s job is to make decisions and to take action in the world. Where there is strong moving back and forth between highs and lows, action and inaction, elation and despair, this point is called for. It helps a person who is tense and uptight, inflexible and only able to see a single course of action.

Dizziness and visual disturbance can sometimes be the result of a difference between our inner and outer reality. When there is a disconnect between inner vision and outer vision. Toulinqi helps to reconcile these differences.

Gall Bladder 15 can give us a wider perspective on life, allowing us to make better sense of its patterns, to rise above the tangled thickets of our inner confusion and to see the bigger picture of our place in the cosmos.

Location of Gall Bladder 15



Directly above the pupil when the eye is looking forward, and 0.5 cun inside the hairline.

Just Right

 Sanjiaoshu – Triple Heater Shu – Bladder 22

Porridge 1To start the new year I thought I’d tell you a story about Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Actually you’ve probably heard it. It’s the one about the young girl who breaks into an unoccupied house in the woods, jumps all over the furniture and eats breakfast before being sprung by the ursine owners. Goldilocks was searching for everything that was just right. Not too hot or cold; not too hard or soft; and not too large or small. This notion of finding a balance between two extremes has become known as the Goldilocks principle.

In Chinese medicine, the “organ” that is most responsible for keeping the systems of the bodymind in the Goldilocks zone, or homeostasis, is the Sanjiao or Triple Heater. It does this by mobilising the Original Qi (Yuan Qi) and separating it into its different functions as it operates through the other 11 organ meridians. In this way it acts as a harmoniser of the whole energy body.

An important acupoint that can activate this mobilising and harmonising force is Sanjiaoshu, Bladder 22, the back shu point of Triple Heater. The back shu points, which relate to all the organ meridians, are hosted by the Bladder meridian. They lie on its inside track, 1.5 cun lateral to the midline of the spine, a line which follows the erector spinae muscle bundle. Massage therapists commonly perform a stroke which takes in all these points of the back, thereby influencing all of the organs.

Giovanni Maciocia, a leading authority on Chinese medicine, wrote about the back shu points in a recent blog. He strongly emphasised the importance of these points in treating chronic disease. The word shu means to transport. By treating a shu point, a wave of Qi is transported along the meridian until it reaches the corresponding organ.

In the case of Triple Heater, the “organ” is more of a function which harmonises all of the organs. If there is a location of this function it is in the three burning spaces of the torso where all the organs are located. The upper burner is the chest cavity above the diaphragm; the middle burner is between the diaphragm and the navel; and the lower burner lies below the navel. The Triple Heater harmonises these three areas and in doing so brings harmony to all the organs. (See previous blogpost for a Triple Heater visualisation practice.)

From all of this you can see that the acupoint Sanjiaoshu is really useful. It helps to redress any imbalance in heat and cold in the body so is good for things like fever, chills, heat stroke and cold extremities. It aids in cases of oedema and difficult urination because of Triple Heater’s capacity to move fluids. The point also treats digestive disorders because of its influence over the middle burner; and issues of the Bladder and Kidneys through its influence over the lower burner. Locally it helps with lower back pain and stiffness.

Bladder 22 can be used in conjunction with other shu points to support the transportation of Qi to other organs. It is also very effective when combined with points along the Triple Heater meridian, in particular TH 5.

So if you’re feeling too hot or too cold, too hard or too soft, try Sanjiaoshu and feel just right!

Porridge 2



BL 22Location of Bladder 22

In the lower back, 1.5 cun (4 fingers width) lateral to the spine at the level of the junction of the 1st and 2nd lumbar vertebrae. This is about 1 cun above the level of the navel. Use firm,  direct pressure with the thumb. If working on yourself, make fists and place your knuckles at the points, leaning back into a chair to increase the pressure.