acupuncture points

Open or Shut the Gates?


So the pre-Christmas build up and the day itself has been and gone, but we’re still gearing up for the New Year celebrations – for my family there are birthdays too! Everyone in the world wants to meet for a “Christmas drink” – we don’t see these people for most of the year, but somehow as soon as December hits, everyone wants to meet, your diary is chocka-block and you don’t even have a window in which to pick up the Turkey!

Now this isn’t a bad thing in itself, the invitations are offered in the jolliest of spirits, everyone is full of Christmas cheer, overtaken by the excitement of the festivities and the warmth of being with people you love… but the emphasis must be on exactly that, being with people you love. At this time of year, many of us struggle with saying no to acquaintances and well-meaning neighbours, so that our social calendars over the holidays are stretched to bursting point and we don’t have time to do the things we really want to do, or the things that are going to nourish us the most.

This kind of joy, the bubbly, jolly socialising, reaching out to others to make connections and relationships is all associated with the Fire Element in Chinese Medicine. It is to do with the Heart organ (with the Small Intestine), and the Pericardium (Heart Protector) with the Triple Burner (temperature regulator in Chinese Medicine). All the associations we recognise to be aligned with the Heart, are synonymous with the Fire Element – love, happiness, people, parties, laughter, warmth and closeness with others. However, conversely, the opposite is also true, at the other end of the spectrum, i.e. a lack of joy, not wanting to socialise, hating parties, feeling miserable and flat – the key is to keep the Fire Element in a state of balance, so the emotions don’t fluctuate massively from being incredibly up, to plummeting down into the depths. This is the case for all of us, as we all have all five of the Elements within us, but it is particularly important for Fire CFs (those people who have Fire as their Element or Constitutional Factor, which is like their energetic default setting)…

This was particularly evident in the last couple of weeks before Christmas, as in clinic, I noticed I was treating nearly all of my Fire Element (or Fire CF) patients with what we call the luo-junction points, Pc 6 and TB 5 – my quota totally sky rocketed as we got nearer and nearer to Christmas!

These points, called Pc 6 (Pericardium 6, Nei Guan, Inner Gate) and TB 5 (Triple Burner 5, Wai Guan, Outer Gate), can provide us with a valuable lesson during the festive period, as it is about maintaining a healthy balance between reaching out and opening our hearts to others, or retreating inwards and “closing the gate” to people around us.

I have used this point combination a lot during December, to allow patients’ spirits to feel more balanced, to get emotionally prepared or “fired-up” for the upcoming onslaught of celebrations, and to feel like they are actually allowed to say no to some social engagements if they so wish – however hard it feels! The Inner Gate (Pc 6) reaches the inner aspect of the person, regulating the opening and closing of the gates of the Pericardium, which protects the Heart. When this inner part feels weary, fearful or overwhelmed by social engagements, the point can stimulate the Heart Protector’s compassion, connection and warmth, allowing us to go “out” whilst still feeling protected.

The Outer Gate (TB 5) has the function of actively discerning who may enter and leave through our gates. It regulates our external boundary, helping us to reach out (physically and emotionally – hence its location on the arm, towards the wrist) to make contact with positive people… when it is not functioning correctly, we may reach out to too much (showing too much of ourselves to others), to too many people, or the wrong people, creating a negative affect.

So remember, think carefully about your own inner and outer gates as you gear up for the New Year parties – are you seeing the people you really want to see? Are you reaching out and making connections with loved ones who are important to you? Or have you succumbed to “accidentally accepting” an invitation that came in whilst your inner gate was too open? Were you unable to protect your heart when someone asked you to celebrate with them? Do you need to do something quieter at home, instead of a drunken night on the town?

Choose to welcome in 2012 with something that will nurture yourself – you can open the gate, or close the gate, whatever suits your own energy, just listen to your intuition as this will be very different for different people. Wishing you all very happy New Year celebrations, whatever they may look like!


© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

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