Summer and Chinese Medicine
Close your eyes and feel a glowing red light and say Hawwwww.
This is the healing sound for the Heart. I remember this by the sound I make when trying to heat my cold hands up in cold weather. This is one of the healing sounds of the Fire element. (If you’d like to hear a wonderful musical interpretation of each of the healing sounds, I recommend Six Healing Sounds by Yuval Ron and Dr. Richard Gold. You can learn more about the healing sounds here.)
The Heart is considered the Emperor in Traditional Chinese Medicine. As such, it has three officials to help out – the Small Intestine, Pericardium and Triple Burner (you can read more about the Triple Burner below). In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Heart is in charge of governing Blood, controlling the blood vessels and sweat. Emotional and spirit issues of the heart include insomnia, palpitations, mania and shock. The Heart helps us connect with others, bringing us joy, compassion, and love. It brings us closer to our true self.
The shen – The Spirit of the Fire element
The Heart opens into the tongue and we can see the state of the Heart in the complexion.1 Each element has a spirit and this one is called shen, as beautifully described by Lorie Eve Dechar:
“During our life, the shen is said to reside in the empty center of the heart from where it guides us along our path through life. Although it is invisible, the shen’s presence is reflected in the light that shines from the eyes of a healthy human being. In the presence of healthy shen, there is a luster and brightness to the disposition, a feeling of connection and awareness. Most of all, the presence of healthy shen results in a life that is uniquely suited to the individual and a person whose actions make sense within the context of the surrounding environment.”2
Acupuncture points for the Heart and its officials
Each acupuncture channel has points with spiritual properties. Here I’ll discuss a few points related to the Fire element. You can do acupressure on the points described in this post alone, or using the essential oils mentioned in the“Acupressure and essential oils for the Heart and its officials” infographic.
Heart 7 “Spirit Gate” is at the wrist crease, on the radial side of the flexor carpi ulnaris. Heart 7 allows the Shen to “travel freely and rest within the heart.” The spiritual function of this point is expressed clearly by Jarrett here, likening it to keeping a metal gate oiled:
“If the spirit gate is rusted closed, the mind can focus excessively on its unfulfilled desires, causing agitation and the accumulation of heat within the heart. In this scenario, oiling the spirit gate can help empower the spirit to feel less constrained and to enjoy a greater freedom of expression.”3
“Treating [Heart 7] can help restore the boundary between self and the world to establish a basis on which a healthier sense of self, grounded in the absolute, can be built.” The elemental association of this point is Earth, so here we have the power of the Earth element within the Fire element (Earth within Fire).
Small Intestine 4 “Wrist Bone” is located on the ulnar side of the wrist between the base of the fifth metacarpal bone and triquetral bone.
“The wrist is how we extend ourselves to make contact with others with a handshake, placing the world at large within our grasp. Similarly, the small intestine must convey the heart’s essence into the world via speech and action, as well as reach out into the world to bring nourishing essence into the inner realm of the heart.”4
Heart 8 or “Lesser Palace” is on the palm where the tip of the pinky rests when you make a fist. It is the Fire point on the Heart channel (fire within fire). It can both quell and reignite Heart fire depending on what is needed, especially from 11am-1pm on the Summer Solstice. This point “diminishes the habituating force and urgency of repressed or unfulfilled desires . . . Excessive heat in the heart can evidence as a red tip to the tongue. Such heat often results from repressed desires that lie in the heart unexpressed.”5
Small Intestine 5 “Yang Valley” is below Small Intestine 4 between the head of the ulna and the triquetral bone. Although this point may be needled or presses at anytime, the peak time is from 1-3pm on Summer Solstice. Small Intestine 5
“empowers the fire of conscious awareness at its peak in life. This fire mediates our ability to perceive reality through the process of sorting and assimilation . . . As the fire point on its channel, “yang valley” excels at reigniting the fires of the small intestine to promote clarity of consciousness and transformation.” 6
Small Instestine 4 and 5 from “A Manual of Acupuncture” by Deadman, Al-Khafaji and Baker (iPhone app version)
Close your eyes again and say the sound:Heeeeeeeee. This is the sound for the Triple Warmer (or San Jiao). Why does the Fire element get two healing sounds when other elements get one? Earlier I mentioned that the Heart has three officials, so that might be one reason. For another reason, we can look at the function of the Triple Burner.
The Triple Burner’s job is to help regulate temperature and water passages. It’s not a specific organ, rather, it’s three sections of the body. The Upper Burner is considered to be the Heart and Lungs. The Middle Burner is the Stomach and Spleen. The Lower Burner is made up of the Kidneys, Bladder, and Intestines. So, the Triple Burner healing sound balances out these parts of the body and helps them communicate with each other better.
Foods for Summertime
Red foods including berries are good for the Heart. It’s ok to eat more cold and raw foods during the hotter weather than in colder weather. Cold cherry soup with creme fraiche, and Hibiscus and schizandra soda from Nishanga Bliss’ Gastronicity blog are beautiful and delicious red recipes that are great for the summertime. Schizandra (also called Wu Wei Zi in Chinese) is an herb you can get from your acupuncturist/herbalist and from some herbs shops. Schizandra is astringing, and can help stop sweating day or night. It’s also calming for palpitations and insomnia. Both of these dishes are a labor of love. (Fair warning: making the cherry soup will get your hands and your kitchen red, red, red.)
The Heart helps us to make connections. Think about that every time you shake someone’s hand, connecting each of the acupuncture points mentioned here with theirs. How can Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine help you find connections with others? How can it help you find and connect with your true self?
1 Maciocia, Giovanni, The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, p. 73
2 Dechar, Lorie Eve, Five Spirits, p. 171
3 Jarrett, Lonny S., The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine, pp. 347-8
4 Jarrett, p. 358
5 Jarrett, pp. 348-9
6 Jarrett, p. 360