Heel Pain: Acupuncture Treatment to Empower Courage & Adapt to Change
Psychosomatic pain (as well as other symptoms) are common, yet often misdiagnosed. These are some of the most common ailments I treat in my acupuncture clinic.
Last week I myself was suffering from strange fatigue and pain in various parts of my body. My heel hurt when I walked on it, my shoulder ached and my neck was stiff and “locked up.” There was no explanation for these strange symptoms. I tried treating them as if I had an injury, but the pain didn’t respond.
It was only after I treated myself for “spiritual fatigue” and overwhelm regarding adaptation and change that my symptoms dissipated and disappeared. My body pain was being caused by mental stress and emotional anxiety.
The acupuncture channel I used to treat my pain was the Yang Wei Mai: active linking vessel. Yang Wei Mai addresses a person’s ability to adjust to change: the cycles and stages of one’s life. It’s an immune-boosting channel, which also “soothes” and strengthens the muscles, yet also calms the mind and spirit. It is a special “channel,” one of the 8 Extraordinary Vessels which provide a person with a tremendous reservoir of energy when faced with overwhelming life circumstances.
Life has been stressful this year. We are facing a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, as well as our own personal strife in having to adapt and adjust. This year I had a relationship end, my business circumstances challenged, I moved from my home and was unable to visit friends and family. From a higher vantage point, all of these challenges and changes are turning out to be positive, yet change is stressful and it was obviously affecting my body.
The areas of my pain actually followed the trajectory of the Yang Wei Mai channel. My body was being very direct in its request for support from this “Extraordinary” reservoir of energy reserve.
The Yang Wei vessel travels from the foot into the calf, hip, shoulder and head. The acupuncture points along this channel describe in great imagery its power and potential.
The first point on Yang Wei Mai, located on outer foot near the heel is called the “Golden” or “Metal” Gate (BL-63). It’s a special point designated as a place of gathering (Xi Cleft). These types of points are used for emergency situations, where there is acute stagnation (often causing pain) or leakages (such as bleeding, or other loss of fluids or vital energy). The “Golden Gate” soothes the muscles, calms the spirit and opens the sensory orifices of the head. These are all strategies for dealing with pain due to blockage of blood and energy. But the spirit of this point is alchemical. It helps us take something in our lives that feels heavy or challenging and transform it into something precious. The action of “opening the sensory orifices” refers to the capacity for BL-63 to allow us to see that what we are going through, that which we have lost, is beneficial to our spiritual development. It is a point of trust, recognition and transformation. It helps us see how much power we already possess, gathering our strength and energy so we can meet the changes of our lives and find something precious within that change.
The next acupuncture point on Yang Wei Mai is called the “Exchange of Yang” (GB-35), which is another special gathering (Xi Cleft) point. “Yang” refers to the root vitality of our bodies that powers all function and movement. Like the prior point, GB-35 soothes the muscles and calms the spirit, making it very powerful for treating pain. It is also a perception point that helps a person make important decisions in life. It connects us deeply to who we are: our values, helping us to see what’s best for us in life. We can often be living in two different, opposing worlds, causing us to feel torn and conflicted. GB-35 is especially effective in soothing lower back pain, empowering the root of our vitality (located in the lumbar region) to “stand up” and move forward in life.
The next two points I activated on Yang Wei Mai are located on the shoulder: “Upper Arm” (LI-14) and the “Transport Point for the Upper Arm” (SI-10). The acupuncture points on the shoulders empower greater capacity for upholding new responsibilities brought on by changing circumstances. When our lives change, we must also change. Adaptability is the key to health and vitality. Shoulder and neck pain can often be associated with difficulty adapting ourselves to change, feeling burden and overwhelmed by who we need to be. The combination of “Upper Arm” and the “Transport Point” of the upper arm addresses the capacity for the body to strongly uphold new responsibilities and also be able to move and adjust with them. Combining these shoulder points with Gallbladder points (GB-35 and the next point, GB-13) connects strength and adaptability with the capacity for clear decision-making.
The final point used in the Yang Wei Mai treatment was on the head: “Root of the Spirit” (GB-13) is a very powerful point to “extinguish wind” (change) and quiet the spirit. It helps stabilize our overwhelm to change, calming our minds so we can effectively decide what we want to do. When needled, this point exuded a bit of blood from my scalp, which indicated my consciousness (which Chinese medicine believes flows through the blood) was able to “move” and “expel” the “wind,” meaning my mind was able to rid itself of its overwhelm, so I could begin to embrace the change and not fight against it. Therapeutically GB-13 was the release point for the treatment, which allowed the blocked energy residing in my feet, neck and shoulders to come out.
Soon after the treatment, all the pain in my heel and shoulders disappeared.
It became clear my body was asking for a “spiritual” mind-changing treatment, and not just something physical. Only when these points worked powerfully on my courage, strength and reaction to change did the pain in my physical body change and clear.