Freedom From the Past: Working on the Blood
To work with the mental-emotional level within acupuncture means to work with blood chemistry. Altering blood chemistry affects brain chemistry. Practicioners within alternative medical therapies often speak of “blockages” as a simplistic way to describe what’s going on inside the body. What does blockage mean? Blockage of what? Within acupuncture language, mental-emotional disturbances are often due to blockage of blood.
Chinese Medicine acknowledges ageing and degeneration as due to the stagnation of blood. Blood is seen to conduct consciousness: the mind and spirit. Stagnation of blood is stagnation of the mind: rigidity and fixation. My teacher uses the term “psycho-sclerosis” to describe this process: the hardening of one’s attitude. Buddhist spiritual teaching describes enlightenment as becoming like a child once again: regaining the ability to see the wonder of the world anew at each moment. The ageing process occurs when we become stuck: seeing the world through the filters of the past.
When the blood becomes stuck in a particular channel, it fails to nourish the areas of the body the channel travels to. It also blocks the channel’s mental and emotional development.
For example, when the blood becomes stagnant in the Kidney Channel, it can result in paranoia and obsessive compulsive behavior. In health, the Kidney channel governs willpower and faith. When the blood becomes stuck, the Will becomes misguided: acting out compulsively, often in destructive ways. The Will becomes fixated on a particular objective, becoming obsessive. The power of the Will begins to act in ways not socially acceptable, even detrimental to the safety of the self and others. Stagnation of blood creates deficiency of blood within the channel, leading to paranoia. The spiritual attribute of the Kidney fails to be nourished, as the blood is being channeled into the obsession, leading to lack of faith. The person is out of touch with his truth, thinking and acting in ways unnatural to him, often contrary to the well-being of himself and others. The Kidney governs the ears, which in this case are not being nourished by clean blood: the person begins to fear others talking about him. Perhaps he is afraid the world is out to get him: to take away what he is obsessively craving, or punish him for the anti-social behavior being acted out.
Treatment of blood stagnation can be very powerful. I have seen people’s entire demeanor change quite quickly. A woman came to me a couple years ago. Her chief complaint was emotional. She was unable to control her emotions. She felt extremely vulnerable around others, and would cry uncontrollably whenever confronted. The confrontation could be as benign as being given constructive criticism. Any type of tension within a social situation would lead to hysterical crying, which she was unable to control. I diagnosed the patient with blood stagnation in the Pericardium Channel leading to blood deficiency. Her symptom is classic to disruption of blood within this channel. After treating only two points on her arm, the patient had a large emotional release, and left my office feeling very calm. The next week, she returned to report that her emotional symptoms had disappeared. They never returned.
Sometimes resolution of a chronic symptom happens that fast. Other times, it takes longer to process the trauma to the channel. Often a period of strengthening the body must occur to prepare for release of the blockage.
My experience of working on the mind and emotions via the blood is a process of redemption from the traumas of the past. I’ve seen it as a way to become free, like the innocent child the Buddhists describe as the enlightened being.