Tag Archives: Breathing

Midwinter – Midsummer

Primordial Yin and Yang

Where I live, today is the shortest day. The winter solstice. The deepest, most yin point of the year, where shortening pivots to lengthening, contracting to expanding, closing to opening. Our prehistoric ancestors were well aware of this movement in the seasons, building stone circles to measure and celebrate the changes.

Just 10 days ago I was in Scotland in the northern hemisphere where our winter solstice is mirrored by their summer solstice, the polar opposite of our experience. It is difficult in the midst of winter to remember what it is like to be in the midst of summer. Travelling quickly between the two has given me some direct experience of the difference.

This annual passage from winter to summer and back is a profound illustration of the concept of yin and yang, a fundamental principle which underpins Chinese medicine. It is like watching the Earth breathe. In and out. Once a year. Breathing in, the Earth rises to the midsummer; breathing out, it falls to the midwinter. A rhythm whose mirror image plays out in the antipodes. A planetary pas de deux.

We humans are witness to this breath of the Earth but a few score times in our lifespan. Our Neolithic ancestors had even fewer views. Midwinter and midsummer rituals in their stone calendars expressed their awe of this rhythm.

We too can gain much from the observing and marking of these pivots in the year. The cycle of the year provides a template for other cycles in our lives, other movements between yin and yang. Shorter cycles of  month, day and hour; and longer cycles, of life stages and of generations. Being aware and present to these cycles within cycles provides us with guideposts in life. They remind us that change is constant. And at a deeper level, these cycles of time provide the context within which we experience each moment. After all, this moment which we are currently experiencing is all we really have. It is all we really are.

Photo: Maeshowe, neolithic burial chamber, Orkney. The entrance to the tomb is aligned to the midwinter sunrise

Abundant Splendour

Fenglong ~ Abundant Splendour ~ Stomach 40

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Last weekend saw the completion of the Level 2 Five Element Acupressure course in Adelaide. Part of the material was an Earth treatment to support seasonal transitions, especially for people who struggle physically or psycho-emotionally when seasons are changing. Upon calculation, we found that the transition period from winter to spring has already begun.

The Neijing tells us that the Earth energies come to the fore in the last 18 days of each season. The beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere is at the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, namely August 6th. Which means the transition period began on July 18th. This might seem awfully early to be thinking about spring, but already we are noticing the budding of trees, the lengthening of days and the odd warm one. Spring is in the wings. Personally I am noticing a slight irritability tugging at my liver, my spring alarm clock.

The Earth Element acts as a mediating influence, a power to connect. Using Earth acupoints at a change of season greatly supports a person’s capacity to move smoothly with the change and avoid struggle, discomfort and illness.

In the past we’ve looked at some excellent points that support transitions, including Stomach 36, Spleen 3, and Spleen 4. Let’s look at another one that can be used in any combination with these points.

Fenglong ~ Abundant Splendour is an important point of the Stomach meridian. As the luo-connecting point of Stomach, Fenglong connects to its partner Spleen and balances Qi between the two, harmonising the yin and yang of Earth.

It is the single most important point for clearing phlegm from the body. Phlegm arises when the Spleen’s function of transportation of fluids is impaired and fluid congeals. As the connecting point, Fenglong activates the Spleen’s transporting function and so treats phlegm related conditions, particularly of the digestive and respiratory systems: cough with mucous, bronchitis, pneumonia, constipation, nausea, vomiting, gastric pain, cysts, lipomas and other lumps under the skin.

But it is for its effects in the psycho-emotional realm that Fenglong is renowned in the Five Element tradition. It helps a person who is feeling scarcity in her life to reconnect with a sense of abundance. The character feng depicts the threshing floor at harvest time, brimming with grain, while long indicates a multiplication manyfold of this abundance. Together they portray the magnificent, splendorous bounty of Heaven and Earth.

Ultimately the feeling of abundance has nothing to do with how much we possess, for abundance is not a physical state, but a condition of the mind and of the spirit. When Earth energies are balanced, there is a natural recognition of the abundance that the universe offers us: the bounty and the beauty of nature, the love and connection we share with others, and the simple fact of being alive. Abundant Splendour proclaims these gifts of Earth. It has the capacity to connect us with the truth that we are already the cornucopia of life’s abundance. When we understand that we are a living personification of abundance, there can be deep satisfaction from simply being alive and present to life.

To give your Earth a good turning and raking in preparation for spring, hold ST 40, ST 36, SP 3 and SP 4 in any or all of the 6 possible pairs of points.

Location of Stomach 40

ST 40

 

The point is on the outside of the leg, half way between the knee crease and the ankle bone and two fingers width lateral to the crest of the tibia bone. Use firm, direct pressure.

 

 

 

Water Element Meditation Practice

Last time I suggested a number ways that you can support the Water within. Here is a meditation practice that strongly invigorates Water by harvesting the Qi of the breath, storing it in the Kidneys and circulating it throughout the body.

Belly Breathing and Circulation Visualisation

Belly breathingThis meditation focuses on building the Qi in the belly centre and circulating that Qi around the Central Channel. It both cultivates and circulates Qi. The practice can be done alone or in a group. When done as a group meditation, the group field can powerfully strengthen the holding ground of Presence.

Find a comfortable sitting position. Bring your awareness to the hara, that place two fingers width below the navel and the same distance inside the body. Just notice the sensations in that area. Sensations of temperature or movement. Maybe there’s no sensation at all. Just notice what is there. Now as you breathe in, imagine you are drawing in the universal Qi, the heavenly Qi with your breath and bringing it down to that place in the belly. As you breathe out, imagine you are holding the energy that has been captured from the breath. Breathing in, drawing the Qi; breathing out, holding the Qi. Do this for a few minutes.

Now that the energy that has been gathered in the hara, allow it to fall like a slow waterfall downwards to the perineum, the soft place in the very floor of the pelvis. Then as you breathe in, imagine that the energy is being drawn up the spine and over the top of the head. As you breathe out, watch the energy move down the front of the body like a slow waterfall down to the perineum. Breathing in up the back and out down the front. You may see it as a ball of light, a ball of energy, maybe you feel it as a movement of energy, or maybe just watch and imagine in your mind that it is moving along that circuit. Do this for a few minutes.

As you finish the next cycle, bring your attention back to the hara and notice the sensations that are there now. Notice any changes in your body and mind.

When you are ready, open your eyes and come back into the room

If you do this daily throughout the winter, you will build a strong platform of strength and resilience that will power you through the spring and summer to come.

The Way of the Five Seasons

Book cover

 

The above is an extract from the the Water chapter of my latest book, “The Way of the Five Seasons”. You can purchase it now from Book Depository UK. For a signed copy, contact me at john@acupressure.com.au