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)
I 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
The 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!)