You will be forgiven for thinking that this is a post about the non-dual nature of reality and the truth that we are all continually arising out of the same fabric of the universe. Another time perhaps. No, this is something far more mundane: a celebration of the first anniversary of this blog. And while you are enjoying the celebratory cup cake, here is a point to help you metabolise the sugars.
I introduced Spleen 3 in the previous posting as a good grounding point after air travel. Here we explore more deeply into this very balancing Earth point.
Years ago when industrial strike action was common, there was nothing more paralysing than a transportation strike. Planes grounded, trains halted, ports closed, trucks idle. The transport of people and goods is vital to the functioning of a country and its economy.
In the human body, the job of moving things around falls to the Spleen official. Of all the organs, the Spleen is the most unlike its western namesake. In fact it can be regarded more like a network than an organ like the Liver. Think of a subway map with its network of criss-crossing lines. Spleen is like the Minister for Transport who keeps things moving.
The main function of the Spleen is to assist the Stomach in the transformation of food essences and to transport these throughout the body. It is also responsible for the movements of Qi and fluids. When the Spleen Qi is strong there will be good appetite, digestion and elimination. When it is weak, there may be poor digestion, bloating and loose stools.
Another function of the Spleen is to control ascending Qi, partnering the Stomach’s role of controlling descending Qi. One way this operates is that the Spleen sends food Qi upwards to the Lung to support its function of gathering Qi from the breath. It also sends food Qi upwards to the Heart to assist in forming Blood. In an overall way, the Spleen provides support and upward lift to the body.
One interpretation of the pathway of the Spleen meridian is that it is like a crutch under the armpit, supporting an upright stance. When Spleen Qi is weak, there is often fatigue and sagging as if this upright support has been lost. The state of the Spleen is one of the most important factors in determining the amount of energy a person has.
When the functions of transformation, transportation and ascendance of Qi are operating well, then thinking is clear and the thoughts are settled. When the Spleen official is taking a sick day, then the mind can become fuzzy and muddled, worried by repetitive and obsessive thoughts.
Disorders of the Spleen are common and Spleen Qi deficiency is one of the most common patterns seen in clinical acupuncture practice in western countries. Causes of this include stress, lack of exercise, poor diet, eating too much sugar, eating cold food, eating irregularly and worrying about what you eat. Looking at this list, it is easy to see how this has become a western malaise.
One of the strongest points for tonifying and revitalising the Spleen is its source point, Taibai – Supreme White. As the Earth point on an Earth meridian, it is tremendously supportive of the Element and particularly effective between the hours of 9 am and 11 am when the Spleen Qi is at its highest level during the day.
It activates and strengthens the Qi of both Spleen and Stomach, thereby treating many digestive disorders including abdominal pain and fullness, intestinal gurgling (borborygmus), constipation, diarrhoea and haemorrhoids. By encouraging the Qi to ascend, Taibai also treats lethargy, fatigue and feelings of heaviness in the body, especially of the limbs. It also treats pain of the knees and thighs along the pathways of Stomach and Spleen.
Taibai is a good point for resolving damp. The Spleen is particularly susceptible to external damp, such as humid weather or wearing wet clothes. But internal damp often arises when the Spleen is not functioning well. Many of the symptoms of Spleen imbalance are a result of this dampness in the body.
The Spleen is also injured by ongoing obsessive thoughts and excessive worry. In these cases, Taibai helps to recharge the brain and the thinking processes. It brightens up your ideas! Similarly, when thinking is fuzzy and mental activity is fraught, this point clarifies thinking and improves memory. It brings groundedness, stability and a sense of coming back to centre.
So if you feel like your inner transport minister has gone on strike, hold Taibai and get him back to work.
Location of Spleen 3 – see previous posting