Coursing the Wind Part 2: Acupuncture Support for Navigating Chaotic Times
When flying a kite, a windy day is helpful. Big waves make surfing more fun. Days of rain create abundant green pastures. Likewise, a bit of chaos, uncertainty and challenge can help us cultivate spiritually.
Part one of this series talked about using acupuncture points to “course the wind,” allowing us to move easier in the face of change. We begin to see that however the world is asking us to move can actually be in our own spiritual best interest. This is not to say that chaotic events occurring around us are to be condoned or applauded. To “course the wind” means we allow these events to wake us up to cultivate greater wisdom.
Wind is a metaphorical term used in Chinese medicine to describe agitation to the neurological system of the body. “Wind” often occurs when our bodies cannot adjust to some sort of internal or external change. This can range from change in atmospheric pressure, climate or even social situations and foods that we have a defensive reaction towards. Wind can generate skin problems like rashes, hives and eczema; it can also create allergies, headaches, high blood pressure, tremors, convulsions, twitching and many other symptoms. Wind can manifest emotionally as volatile moods, uncontrollable outbursts and even anxiety. At its most severe “Wind” can create neuropathy, paralysis and stroke.
The acupuncture channels most involved with treating Wind conditions are the Liver and Gallbladder. These are the organs and channels that must harmonize all aspects of the chemical and energetic body to adjust to every type of change we are subjected to.
In the first article of this series entitled “Coursing the Wind” three Gallbladder acupuncture points were suggested to begin the process of working with stress and overwhelm coming from chaotic times within ourselves or from the world around us. The points GB-24, GB-9 and GB-37 were recommended to begin the process of working with “Wind.” These acupuncture points focused foremost on “opening” the eyes. The point GB-24 on the torso, GB-37 on the legs and GB-9 on the head all exert a powerful effect on sight and vision: both physically as well as psychologically. To begin the process of learning to navigate Wind we must first open the eyes so we can begin to develop a compass that will lead us through the uncertainty of change.
The second grouping of acupuncture points, to be discussed in this article, continues the process of opening the sensory portals, with a focus on activation of the ears.
The Chinese medical classics emphasize the importance of opening the sensory orifices when working with Wind. This provides an outlet for the Wind to be released. Opening the senses also encourages us to soften our habitual way of seeing ourselves and the world. The Chinese medical masters say many diseases and disorders come from our inability to change: fixation of the mind that paralyzes the immune system and blocks the endocrine system. This prevents the body from being able to effectively adjust to challenge and change.
The first group of acupuncture points: GB-24, GB-37 and GB-9 when stimulated together not only work with they eyes, they also reorient us to the effect of the “celestial” energy of the environment. There are many terms for this kind of energy: “”heaven,” the “celestial,” our spirit’s path. It’s not about something religious necessarily. It’s actually more about the Taoist view of the natural world and its effect on our bodies and minds. As humans we are subjected both to the forces of “heaven” and “earth”: the celestial and terrestrial. The earth and its many cycles, changes and laws exert a major effect on our physiology and even our moods. We are also subject to the laws and cycles of celestial forces: the stars, the moon and the sun, as well as the atmosphere that exchanges energy amongst them all.
Acupuncture was developed by Taoist mystics. They were early physicists, studying natural phenomenon and its effect on the human system. The ancient Taoists observed that certain acupuncture points helped harmonize and synch the human body to terrestrial and celestial forces. This has physical, chemical and psychological implications. It is also described as a spiritual process.
The idea of the “portals” – a name used to describe the body’s sensory orifices – is very important in Chinese medicine. The ancient medical classics describe many serious conditions rooted in blockage or dysfunction of the “portals.” Most degenerative conditions are treated in Chinese medicine through first opening the upper and lower portals of the body. Many mental-emotional disorders such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder and confusion (dementia, feeble mindedness) are all partially due to blockage in the portals. Phlegm is a common factor that commonly blocks the portals. By opening the upper and lower portals, phlegm trapping wind and heat can begin to detox out of the body, restoring proper body function.
The upper portals in the body include the eyes, ears, nose and throat. The lower portals are the anus and urethra. Portals are openings for information and substance to pass in and out of the body. There are gross substantive things that come in and out like food and waste, less substantive like air (oxygen and carbon dioxide) and even subtle things like color, smell and even psychic awareness.
Important in Chinese culture, philosophy and medicine is the notion of a person’s “Ming” or destiny. Our lives are not solely guided by free will. Programmed inside each of us is a “spirit path”: something our spirit wants to experience in life. Combined with the spirit path is that of the terrestrial Earthly path. The body is made up of “Spirit” aspects that relate to both the celestial and terrestrial. Earthly influences include both our animal nature as well our ancestral inheritance. We are said to inherit from our parents both physical characteristics as well as “unfinished business.” It is common in Chinese culture to say that whatever our ancestors were unable to resolve gets passed onto us. We inherit the unfinished business of our parents, and some say also that of our entire ancestral line.
Chinese culture believes in reincarnation. We also carry with us into our present lives unfinished spiritual business. That which leaves our body at death, called the “Hun” or non-corporeal soul, returns with each life carrying with it a record of all the lives we’ve led. Included within the Hun’s records is the unfinished business of our past lives.
The combination of the “Ming” -the “mandate” – from Heaven and Earth is what generates our physicality, our personality, where we are born culturally and geographically, as well as the family we are born into. Nothing is seen to be random. We are born into an environment and surrounded by people which allow our destiny to unfold. The challenges and conflicts contained within our culture, families and ourselves are bestowed upon us to help our Ming unfold, ideally so we can successfully complete the unfinished business our celestial and earth spirits carry.
The Gallbladder’s acupuncture channel is a common way to make contact with the celestial and Earthly mandates. The Gallbladder is a bridge between our daily consciousness and that which has been programmed into us. It is a channel where we can access information from past lives, the ancestral family line as well potentials for the future. Working with Gallbladder can be like a psychic reading, past life regression and family constellation all in one. It is a channel that enters into and also exits out of the Brain. It also makes contact with the uterus, prostate, genitals and Liver: all organs with a strong relationship to ancestry.
The first set of acupuncture points are shown to be focused on the celestial mandate. The point GB-9 is called “Tian Chong” which means the celestial blueprint. It is the major point within the first trio of points. Its primary effect is to open our eyes to our spiritual path – what heaven asks of us and also what it has provided us with.
The second trio of points used in this model supporting spiritual cultivation focuses on the Earthly mandate. The major point of this trio is GB-42 “Di Wu Hui”: the Earth’s Five Meetings. This is a powerful point not commonly used in modern acupuncture. It was used classically by martial artists and military doctors to heal internal injury received during combat. The way GB-42 does this is by opening the Liver and diaphragm so stagnant blood (internal bruises) can be exuded. Obviously the portals must already be somewhat open in order for this point to work – there must be a way for stagnant blood to leave the body.
Chinese medicine commonly teaches us that in order to open the bottom part of the body, the upper body must be open and vice versa. By opening the throat, eyes and ears, this encourages the lower portals also to open – the portals of elimination.
GB-42 also treats a type of overwhelm that is not addressed by many other acupuncture channels. The name “Five Meetings” refers to five acupuncture channels becoming heavily involved in a challenging situation at once. To the ancient Chinese every aspect of the body was divided into six divisions or elements. In most situations in life, one or two channels, divisions or elements are involved. The limitation of the body as taught by the ancient Chinese was that no more than 3 channels or elements should be involved in a situation, disease or challenge at once. Once this number is exceeded, the body will begin to be damaged. It’s as if nearly every energetic aspect of the body becomes entangled in the problem, consuming much of the body’s resources. Physically GB-42 treats low back pain, tinnitus, ringing in the ears and headaches: all of which can be symptoms of physical and mental taxation from overwhelm.
The fact that the name of GB-42 specifically mentions the world “Earth” (Di) suggests the overwhelm is coming from Earthly factors. GB-42 helps to ease the manifesting symptoms from overwhelm. It also heals internal blood stasis and bruising within the physical and mental bodies. As an acupuncture point GB-42 is amongst the most grounding and stabilizing, often used to stop severe Wind symptoms such as tremors, convulsions and fright.
An aspect of Earthly factors is society. We may feel victimized or alienated by what’s going on around us in our countries, communities and even the world we live in. Family is also part of the Earthly realm. It is common to have conflict between our spiritual or individual selves and our families. The stress from these conflicts can impact the blood flow in the body, creating stasis. To be internally injured can come from physical attack like a battle wound, an assault or accident; it can also come from an attack on our minds and emotions. Whenever we are attacked or assaulted our blood can become stagnated. Blood stasis can also come from extreme emotions – fear, anger, shock or from longterm unresolved emotional states like resentment, worry, grief.
GB-42 like the point GB-24 in the prior trio of points “courses the wind.” These points help bring us from a place of overwhelm to being able to move with the challenges we are encountering. The optimal state is to be able to use challenges to help us find our way forward. Challenges can help us make difficult decisions and see things we may have missed when things were calm. To Course the Wind is like being a kite-runner or a surfer – using the intensity of a situation to our benefit. Points that course the wind exert a calming, opening effect on the liver, nervous system, mind and emotions.
The combination of points in this second trio focuses on bringing things out of the Brain – to change our perception of ourselves in the world. To work with Gallbladder in relation to Wind is learning to embrace change and challenge in our lives. To be a little bit more like a wild bird that delights in flying high in the sky.
The second point in this trio is GB-13 called “Root of the Spirit.” It is a point that “Dispels Wind.” Instead of just learning to flow with the chaotic challenge, this point empowers us to actually resolve the issue so it no longer harasses us. It is a point that helps us embrace change and do something about it. This is a point of total practical acceptance. The name “root of the spirit” suggests we learn to take a wider spiritual view of our life. We accept the things around us and adjust. This is a point that powerfully helps us go beyond denial.
Even though GB-13 is a very direct, action-based point, it is also very calming to the mind and spirit. It’s a point that helps us drop the drama. It helps dispel our illusions and delusions. We begin to take refuge in the reality of things as they are. It is a point much revered by Buddhist practitioners and their focus on dispelling ignorance and neurotic delusions.
Signs of “Wind” in the body can be bubbly urine, bubbly saliva, tremors, shaking, mood swings, and any type of neurological or skin manifestation. Wind symptoms mean some type of change is being asked of us. The body reacts to this, sometimes generating a defensive reaction which brings about symptoms. GB-13 helps calm the nervous system and mind so we can embrace change as a gift from our spirit, leading us into the next phase of our destiny. GB-13 is an important calming point when we feel we are in “the eye of storm.” It takes us right into the center of the issue and empowers us to deal with it from a place of calm strength.
Working with Wind requires focus on the neurological system of the body. This includes the nerves, spine and brain. Inside the brain and spine is the marrow – a very important structure that must be addressed when working with wind. The Gallbladder as an acupuncture channel connects to all of these body structures.
The Brain is called the “sea of marrow” in Chinese medicine. The marrow is where Earthly “essence” and celestial “spirit” energy come together. As the “sea” of marrow the Brain is a depository of both spiritual and earthly experience. It is what “solidifies” into our personality.
The final point of this trio is GB-39 “the Suspended Bell.” It is a point designated as a special influential point for the marrow. Like the prior two points GB-39 treats the ears, which have a strong relationship with the marrow. It is a point that is said to quiet the internal doubtful pessimistic voices we hear when we are trying to heal, telling us we are not strong enough. The marrow is related to internal and external strength and vitality. When the marrow is firm and strong we feel like we can do anything. Our physical strength is at its height when our marrow is firm. When the marrow is soft and weak however we may feel discouraged and weak.
We have a choice. Our memories can help us feel strong by reminding us of times when we faced challenges and triumphed. They can also make us feel discouraged, weak and hopeless – especially if we have been traumatized or abused. GB-39 helps strengthen our ability to choose our thoughts. It gives us the power and focus to choose what to remember and what to forget. By clearing and solidifying the marrow GB-39 helps us choose thoughts and memories that empower us.
The name “suspended” suggest thoughts and experiences that are stuck in time, not moving forward. The blessing of wind is it gives us the locomotive energy to move forward. But first we must be strong enough to be able to ride the wind without become disoriented. The idea of the Bell has religious connotations. In Taoist and Buddhist ritual, bells are used to awaken consciousness. Even in the Catholic tradition the ringing of the bells is a call to awareness – to focus on the sacred. Within the Taoist and Buddhist traditions however we do not pray to some deity or savior outside ourselves. We pray to the wisdom within – through meditation and chanting. The bell is a call to come back to the “original mind” which is pristine, open and profoundly wise.
The use of GB-39 is like ringing the bell in our brain to get the suspended thoughts and experiences moving.
GB-39, like GB-37 in the prior trio of points treats a condition called “Wei Atrophy” – neuropathy, paralysis: weakness of the nerves and physical anatomy that prevents movement. The psycho-neurological component of Wei Atrophy is often rooted in a weakness of the marrow which prevents us from gathering our willpower to move forward and engage in life. GB-37 works through opening the eyes so we can begin to see our way forward in life. GB-39 opens the ears so we can hear our own deep inner voice, remember our strength and what we came into this life to do.
Once again, I advise these cultivation treatments to either be done with an acupuncturist or self-administered with Essential Oils upon the acu-points.
There are two Essential Oils I suggest for Stage Two of the Gallbladder Dragon Treatment: Rose and Tangerine.
Rose Essential Oil resonates with the organs of the Heart, Liver and Kidneys. It is an anti-depressant and hormone balancer, treating insomnia, restlessness and irritability by nourishing the “Yin” aspect of the body (the blood and hormonal fluids) and clearing deficiency heat that agitates the spirit and mind. Rose also clears “heat in the blood” causing blood deficiency through bleeding or hyper-emotionality. It also regulates the Liver’s circulatory energy (qi) and clears Liver heat, treating headaches, red eyes, angry outbursts, nervous tension, constipation. Rose also promotes bile flow, which improves digestion as well as our ability to cope with sticky, heavy situations in our lives. Most importantly for our uses, Rose oil opens the sensory portals and helps establish communication between the Heart (Spirit-Mind) and Kidneys (Essence-Will). Rose is a creativity oil: it treats infertility and raises sperm count.
Tangerine Essential oil also resonates with the Liver organ, as well as the Stomach and Spleen-Pancreas. Tangerine promotes adaptability by helping our instinctive, reactive surface energy (Wei qi) to not be fixated and stubborn. It is a calming oil, treating insomnia, restlessness and hyperactivity. Most importantly for our purposes, Tangerine subdues “internal wind” – reactivity to internal change, potentially manifesting as tremors, seizures, convulsions and even epilepsy. Tangerine “harmonizes” the Stomach, treating the tendency for digestive upset, especially involving energy rebelliously moving upwards: burp, colic. Finally, Tangerine “Strengthens the Spleen,” making it a good oil for rebuilding the body and mind during a time of convalescence. Lymph decongestant.
Choose which of these two oils applies best to you and your particular situation. Apply the oil first to the point GB-42 on the foot, followed by GB-13 on the forehead. Finish the treatment with GB-39 on the outer lower leg. Let yourself smell the fragrance of the oil as you massage each point. Meditate for a short while on each of the points, smelling the oil. Repeat this each day.
With any Taoist cultivation practice, it is usually a three part process. We discussed the initiation stage in the prior article. This stage is a deeper level of cultivation: reaching into the level of the essence and the marrow where the Spirit and Will communicate.