Mother’s Embrace

Leap Day in Australia finds us at the beginning of autumn and the Metal Element. Before we drop down into the yin half of the year, let’s look at one final acupoint of the Earth Element.

Dabao – Great Enveloping – Spleen 21

5.17Hugs come in many forms: a light greeting, a supportive holding, an affectionate embrace, a passionate clinch, a mother’s love-you-to-bits squeeze. A loving, caring, full-frontal hug sees the arms enfold the other person, wrapping around the back and sides, while the two chests meet. What is common to all these hugs is caring. You enfold the other person in your arms in a caring embrace. You care for their well being. Such caring is the essence of the Earth Element.

The Earth qualities of caring, support and nourishment are amply demonstrated and demonstrably amplified at the acu-point Dabao – Great Enveloping which lies on the side of the ribcage. Imagine a mother embracing her child, arms wrapped around the little body, holding and squeezing with maternal love. The child’s entire upper body is enveloped, wrapped in mother’s love.

The character of Dabao includes a pictogram of a foetus in the womb to suggest something contained within, wrapped up or enveloped. A foetus receives holding, support and nourishment, all essential qualities of Earth.

Dabao transmits these essences by virtue of its role as the point of the Great Spleen Connecting Channel. This channel arises at SP 21 and radiates throughout the chest, through what are known as the minute collaterals, enveloping the chest with Qi and Blood, and supporting the Heart. The point relieves fullness, oppression and depression in the Heart area, bringing a feeling of freedom, openness, harmony and togetherness. It effects an internal, enfolding, motherly embrace.

This function of moving Qi and Blood extends throughout the body because Dabao controls all the luo-connecting points. We have looked at a number of luo-connecting points so far and seen how these points balance the yin and yang of their Element. In SP 21 we have the Great-luo point, the mother of all connecting points. In this role it treats the whole network of connecting channels and their Blood, thereby nourishing the whole body. In this way, it treats muscular pain that moves throughout the body as well as looseness of the joints.

Another major function of Dabao is as the exit point of the Spleen meridian. From here, the Qi moves into the entry point of Heart meridian at Heart 1 – Utmost Source, which lies in the centre of the armpit. Here is another way that Spleen nourishes the Heart, through the wei-qi cycle. Spleen 21 needs to be open in order to serve the Heart and Heart 1 needs to be open to receive the nourishment.

When Qi becomes blocked at points of exit or entry, an entry-exit block occurs and poses a significant impediment to effective treatment. The Spleen/Heart block is one of the most common of these blocks. Symptoms of such a block can include fullness of the chest, palpitations, pain in the ribcage, pain in the armpit, skin eruptions at or between the points, appetite disorders, fatigue and depression.

Something I have discovered through bodywork is that by holding both SP 21 points simultaneously, a gentle myofascial compression is created. When this hold is maintained for about three minutes, the fascia of the whole ribcage begins to unwind, contributing greatly to the effect that SP 21 has on freeing the Qi of the chest.

This can be done by using gentle pressure with the palms over the points, a hold which often feels very comforting to the recipient, like a supportive, caring embrace.

 

Location of Spleen 21

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On the very side of the ribcage, below the armpit, in the seventh intercostal space (some sources locate in the sixth intercostal space). It lies roughly at the level of the xiphoid process at the base of the sternum. The point can be held with moderate, direct pressure or with the palm as suggested above.

 

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