Category Archives: Depression

All You Need Is Love

As we move fully into the Fire season of summer, here we look at one of Fire’s greatest gifts: love.

Shanzhong – Within the Breast – Conception Vessel 17

4-17Perhaps more words have been written and spoken about love than any other subject. Certainly it is a major focus in books, movies and popular music. There is no simple definition of love because it has different meanings in different contexts. There are many kinds of love.

We can say we love certain foods like ice cream or chocolate, we love our hobbies or our work, we love our pets, we love our neighbours, we love our family, we love our partner, we love the earth, we love God.

Whichever culture or system you look at, there seems to be universal agreement that love is associated with the heart. Whatever kind of love we are talking about, it is a state that is perceived by and expressed through the heart centre. Love is often experienced as a warm or expansive feeling in the chest. This is a direct experience of the fact that the heart is the primary organ of the Fire Element. The extent to which we are able to feel love, receive love, give love or express love will indicate the health of our Fire.

The Fire point that lies in the very centre of the chest is Shanzhong – Within the Breast. While it lies on the Ren Mai (Conception Vessel), it is the mu or alarm point for the Heart Protector. This is where the shen, the spirit of the Heart resides. It coincides with the heart chakra or heart centre and is the place where we most feel our heart feelings. It is where we feel the pleasurably warm, glowing feeling when we fall in love and also where the pain is felt when our heart is broken.

Shanzhong is a point that activates the shen. It facilitates the communication of feelings from the Heart to the outside and helps to settle the spirit when the person has been exhausted or betrayed by relationships. When the heart has gone cold, it opens the Heart Protector to new possibilities of engagement with others.

At the physical level, this point strongly activates Qi in the chest, affecting both heart and lungs. It treats tightness in the chest, chronic cough and shortness of breath. Because it quells rebellious Qi in the middle burner, it aids heartburn and acid reflux. It also facilitates lactation and treats mastitis.

While this point won’t guarantee you’ll find the love of your life, it can help you to open the conduit for communication of feelings and for the giving and receiving of love.

Location of Conception Vessel 17

4-18The point is in the centre of the sternum in a shallow hollow. On men it lies between the nipples. It is at the level of the fourth intercostal space which is  located by counting down four rib spaces from the underside of the clavicle. The point can be held with gentle, direct finger pressure, or more gently still by placing the palm on or over the point.

 

This is an extract from The Way of the Five Elements by John Kirkwood, a book that might make a lovely gift for someone you love.

Sumer is icumen in

sumer-is-icumen-inThis bright, jolly, 13th century rota sings gaily about the arrival of summer. Its four part harmony is popping with the joy of the season. There are blooming meadows, merrily singing cuckoos, prancing bullocks and farting goats. The song evokes many of the qualities of summer and the Fire Element: expansiveness, joy, expressive movement and an overall outward orientation. You can listen to it here.

The first notes of summer in the southern hemisphere are usually seen around the midpoint between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, about November 6th. The days are long and becoming longer, the temperatures warm and getting warmer, the sun bright and growing brighter by the day.

This year, however, there has been an abnormally cold and wet start to summer in southern Australia. I’m reminded of the jape about the English weather, that the main difference between winter and summer in England is the temperature of the rain.

Last weekend I taught a Fire Element workshop in which we invited the energies of Fire to fill the room so that we could immerse ourselves in a Fire bath. It was an unseasonably cold and wet day and it took a while to turn up the flame. In one spontaneous moment, I invited everyone in the group to spread their arms out wide, a gesture often associated with joy. As we all spread our arms out, I noticed that smiles broke out on everyone’s face. I didn’t even need to bring out the silly rubber chickens to get people smiling.

As we open our arms, we open our hearts. Through this posture, we can access the contented joy that is the natural state of the heart. And since the fundamental movement of Fire is outwards, joy flows naturally out into the world. What is more, this arms-wide-open stance also invites the world in.

I’m going to make it a practice this summer to open my arms out wide at least once a day.

I invite you to join me.

joy-copy

The Next Chapter of Your Life

Zhangmen – Chapter Gate – Liver 13

As we move into spring in the antipodes, the energy of the Wood Element is all around us. Time once again to roll out Wood points to smooth our passage through this sometimes jerky season.

New chapterI struggled a bit with getting this blog out. You may have noticed that it’s a week overdue. So it was with some amusement that I discovered that the Wood point I wanted to write about, Liver 13, is good for writer’s block!

One of the point’s many names, Chapter Gate, suggests support for the start of a new chapter, whether it be a piece of writing, or metaphorically a new chapter of your life. Zhangmen helps us to move to new beginnings.

The point is a meeting point, a place where the Liver, Gall Bladder and Spleen meridians converge. It is therefore a great harmoniser of the relationship between Wood (Liver) and Earth (Spleen). It smooths away the frustration and irritation that can be caused by stagnation in the Liver Qi; and it supports Spleen’s capacity for clear, productive thinking. Altogether, this makes for the ability to see the road ahead, think clearly, make plans for the future, and move forward with purpose. When you’re at a crossroads, Zhangmen helps you to navigate the next stage in your life.

From Chapter Gate the Qi moves upwards to Gate of Hope, Liver 14, which we looked at two springs ago. These two Gates are often treated together, mutually supporting the freeing of stuck energy and moving smoothly through transitions. This combination can be a powerful support for depression that is caused by stagnant Liver Qi.

At the physical level, the point treats abdominal pain and distension, gurgling tummy, loss of appetite and diarrhoea which may alternate with constipation. It supports the Spleen in its function of transforming food into Qi and transporting its energy around the body. Good for those times when overindulgence in food leaves you overfull and nauseated.

Another name for the point is Camphorwood Gate. Zhang denotes the camphor laurel tree and by extension any valuable wood. This point is where Wood receives Earth and The Book of History teaches, “When Wood receives the virtue of Earth it becomes a thousand pieces of valuable lumber.” Wood’s ability to see the way forward is united with Earth’s capacity to transform plans into manifestation. A valuable product is the result.

When you’re having trouble turning the page to reveal the next chapter of your life story, try holding Zhangmen.

Location of Liver 13

LV 13Located at the tip of the 11th rib. Another of the point’s names is Elbow Tip: if you let your arms hang at your sides and press your elbows in, the tip of the elbow locates the point. Another method is to palpate downwards along the fixed ribs. As you get towards the side of the body, the fixed ribs give way to a gap. Keep going and you’ll touch the tip of the 11th rib.