Bodymind Treasures

We are the Map



How Do They Know It’s Spring? (3/31/13)

 How Do They Know It’s Spring?


“Wood gives us the ability to see beyond the obstacles with our “mind’s eye,” and the strength and flexibility to keep moving past them towards the goal.” 
I always marvel as daffodils and crocuses push up through the snow and bloom, just when the weather is changing enough to give them a chance to survive. What exquisite responsiveness to the smallest hint of light and warmth! We are just like the daffodils, when we pay attention. It’s the gift of the Wood element that allows us to sense the guidance of Shen, and like the plants sense the change in the light, we can notice those small stirrings that pull us to our highest vision, even before we can see it clearly. Wood grants the ability to move relentlessly through or around obstacles toward the sun and the light. We have all known and worked with people whose life experience should have them curled in a ball in the darkest corner, yet who keep moving, growing and spreading the power of their determination to all around them. They are the daffodils in the snow.
The movement associated with the balanced Wood Element is both strong and supple. The Liver and Gall Bladder meridians govern the tendons and ligaments, which stabilize the joints by holding them in place, and create movement of the bones by connecting them to the muscles. When there is too much Wood energy, the joints are tight and stiff; when there is too little, the joints and muscles are weak. The balance of strength and suppleness produces flow, like the movement of a gifted dancer or gymnast or our friend the house cat. The flow of the Water Element is different. Water flows because it doesn’t resist gravity. Without that outside force, it is still. The movement granted by the Wood Element has an inner direction and a purpose. Wood brings this gift of directed, smooth flow to the fluids in the body – the blood and lymph – and to everything that moves, including the voice, the feelings, the transmission of nerve impulses and the muscles.

Wood is also responsive to conditions. Watch children move seamlessly from one emotion to the other as they interact with the present moment. That beautiful responsiveness to life right now,  without reactions from the past is what we call “innocence.” This responsiveness to the present also allows us to make appropriate decisions in the moment. The Gall Bladder influences all the other organs of the digestive system by a simple decision:”yes” or “no.” If there are fats to be emulsified, it releases bile to combine with the digestive juices from the pancreas in the small intestine. If not, it doesn’t. The same function influences our mental and emotional decision-making. General Gall Bladder responds to the conditions on the field while keeping sight of the vision embedded in the plans made behind the lines by its partner, the Liver. The plans are based on the vision toward which we move, be it the taking of a country or the accomplishment of our highest goals. Wood gives us the ability to see beyond the obstacles with our “mind’s eye,” and the strength and flexibility to keep moving past them towards the goal.

We can remind ourselves of our innate daffodil-ness by asking:

  • “What moves me?
  • What is my vision for my life?
  • What makes things flow for me?
  • What motivates me?
  • If I could look around the obstacles in my path, what would I see?

May we embody the balanced Wood Element this spring by clarifying our highest vision. May we unfold, grow and flow purposefully toward that light with the suppleness and strength of the body, the emotions and the spirit.

Patience (8/9/15)


The Old Sage, Chapter 15joannawatermexico5

Can you wait until the mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you wait to move until the right action arises?

Yesterday, I saw a client who complained of acid reflux, and being in pretty good shape, not much else.  I did the assessment; the pulses that got my attention were the Earth element pair,  the Stomach (St)and Spleen (Sp) meridians, along with the Bladder (Bl) meridian.  All were very strong.  The Stomach/Spleen Shu (Associated) points in the back were quite tight as well.

My treatment plan seemed straightforward. I envisioned a good, thorough neck release using distal points with any tight local points, ending with Stomach (St) and segueing* from there to further locals and distals on the St. This would include Stomach 19 (Food Not Descend), which is a great self-help point for acid reflux. Then I would hold St 19 with the St Shu on the back, transitioning to hold the St Shu with Bladder (Bl) distals. (The Shu points are on the Bladder meridian.) Then I would hold more Bl local/distal combinations.  Great. I could give this protocol to someone else to do and the client would get a good session.

However, when I got to the Large Intestine (LI) points in the neck, one distal point was not enough to release the tension – reminding me that St and LI are often in cahoots, winding around each other like vines in a grape arbor. For instance:

  • The Qi leaves the LI and moves into the St in the 24 hour cycle of Qi
  • The LI TendinoMuscular meridian travels alongside the St through the jaw – often involved in the “holding on” feeling that creates tooth grinding and can be addressed with St 6 – the jaw point. Holding, grasping, are associations of the LI.
  • The Mu (alarm) point for the LI is St 25.
  • The Lower Combining (He-Sea) Point of the LI is St 37

So I needed to add some work on the LI to my perfect plan. But that’s what I love about doing bodywork. If I am thinking that I have all the answers, the responses of the body and mind of the client will often disabuse me of that illusion. When I am alert – and invite the client to be alert as well – they will reveal the intricate and wondrous layers of the issue at hand  in an order that  is appropriate for this client at this time.

This is why I am so grateful for the training in simple bodymind counseling processes that is part of Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure®. When the practitioner listens, the metaphors the client uses can be astoundingly accurate clues to the issues to be addressed. A few examples:

  • the client who initially neglects to mention that she is dealing with multiple deaths in the family, describes a “metal breastplate” that keeps her from joy. In Five Element theory, the “Metal Element”  includes the Lung meridian, and the emotion associated with it is grief; Metal is the grandchild of the Fire element, associated with joy; when Metal is too strong (grief), it “insults” its grandparent – Fire (joy).
  • the client with jaw problems who describes herself as “hanging on my the skin of my teeth,” and envisions the circus performer spinning from a leather strap clenched in her jaw. Many meridians converge around the temperomandibular joint (the jaw), but the “holding on” points to issues with the LI.
  • the client with fertility issues who describes a “wooden child’s choo choo train” traveling across her body in the exact trajectory of the Belt Channel (Dai Mai) – one of the extraordinary vessels.  The Belt is associated with these issues, as well as with  the Wood element.

Of course, the body isn’t really speaking just to me. It continues speaking to the client when I am not there.  My main job is to remind the client to listen. She really does have all the answers.

*(“seg- way”: In music and film: move without interruption from one song, melody or scene to another)

©2015 Deborah Valentine Smith

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