onsdag 20 april 2011

Embracing the Emperor: the Pericardium channel and points

In Chinese medicine, the heart is the center of consciousness. Not of thought; they have many different levels of mind and thought. The heart would be the center for a specific kind of thought, but more related to consciousness itself. In Daoist practices there are clear distinctions made between the heart, the xin, the heart of the mind and being, the middle dantian, and the shen. They all interweave, but are technically speaking slightly separate things.

In chinese medicine, each organ has three levels. The first would be the physical organ itself – what Western medicine currently sees as the organ. The second is the qi of it, the energy of it that moves through it and is linked to it. The third is specific emotions and mind-states linked to the organ. So, the physical heart, but the chinese medical organ the Heart, which covers all levels. Then all this is taught in organic relationships of change with everything else in the person. Later, this is in turn taught in how these organic changes in the system are specifically affected by seasons, times in your life, changes in the year, and changes in weather.

The Heart is called the emperor of the body, since the Chinese saw the energy of it as ruling everything else. Chinese doctors around BC had small bamboo models of how the heart pumped blood, but this never really interested them as much as it does in Western medicine: to them, the interesting part with the heart was the consciousness of the person it held and how well this worked with the rest of the person´s health and life.

In old China, the Emperor was sacrosanct. There are schools of chinese medicine for all the other elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Earth), all except Fire, which is linked to the heart. No-one dared have a school linked to the emperor. And partially due to this, one rarely treated – nor treats – the heart directly, nor the Heart channel directly. This is also more common sensically due to the possible risk of directly interfering with the function of the heart.

The way to treat the heart is instead often indirectly, through other points and organs. Primary of these would be the Pericardium and the channels and points linking to it. The pericardium cradles the heart and protects the heart. In Chinese, it is called xinbao, ”heart embracing”. Many treatments to nourish or balance someone´s shen is done through using points on the Pericardium channel.

All channels have several different levels, but the primary part of the Pericardium channel goes from just a finger´s-width above and to the right of the nipple, and then continues out into the arm via the biceps, down on the inside crook of the elbow, and on the midline of the lower arm out to the wrist. From there, the last two points are the laogong and the tip of the middle finger. It goes like this on both arms.

The laogong is often talked about in qigong and Taiji-practices, but most of the time also misplaced as being in the middle of the palm. The real laogong – the acupuncture-point laogong – is found if you curl the middle finger. At the point of the tip touching the palm, inside there is the laogong.

The Pericardium channel is clearly seen worked on together with the Heart channel if someone does Paoquan, Cannon Fist, in Xingyi, which nourishes, balances, and cleans up the Fire Element in the practitioner. A similar movement in Taiji would be Fair Lady Works the Shuttle, but it doesn`t work therapeutically in quite the same way as does Paoquan.

Points on this channel focus on treating things like angina and disturbances of the heart, but also all kinds of blockages or problems of this region and the chest. It also treats disturbances and imbalances of the shen, the mind and emotions who is linked to the core of us, the Heart. Symptoms of shen disorders would be unstable emotions, an inability to think clearly, an inability to perceive reality clearly, memory-problems, insomnia, especially with excessive dreams, etc etc etc. Treating the shen is part both of the immediate and latter treatment done on PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, when you treat the it through acupuncture. In best case, this is done directly or soon after the stressful event. It can also be treated after or a long time after, but then the person will have been much more affected, and there is a risk of the problems from the traumatic event making a deeper imprint on the person´s body and mind.

The Emperor – the Heart – is incredibly important. The health of is it felt in the blood coursing through our body, the joy we have in life, and the light of shen – presence and life – that is visible in the eyes as we meet the world.